Monday, August 31st15.0°C
27214
27019

Pardon sought for Fahmy

Ottawa has formally asked Egypt's president to pardon imprisoned journalist Mohamed Fahmy or allow his deportation to Canada, his wife said Monday as she implored Prime Minister Stephen Harper to secure her husband's release.

The development comes after an Egyptian court sentenced Fahmy to three years in prison on Saturday — a verdict which shocked his family and led many international observers to call for his release.

"Nobody understands how this happened," his wife Marwa Omara told The Canadian Press from Cairo. "I just hope the Canadian government gets Mohamed out from here."

It's the second time Fahmy has landed behind bars in the same case. He was originally arrested in December 2013 with two colleagues while working for satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English and faced widely denounced terror charges.

The trio spent more than a year in prison before an appeal of their convictions resulted in a second trial, although one of them, Australian Peter Greste, was abruptly deported.

Fahmy and his other colleague, Egyptian Baher Mohamed, were granted bail after the start of their retrial, which resulted in Saturday's verdict.

Fahmy was sentenced for failing to register with the country's journalist syndicate, bringing in equipment without security approval, and broadcasting "false news" on Al-Jazeera.

Omara said while the applications for Fahmy's pardon or deportation have been filed by the Canadian Embassy with Egyptian officials, sustained pressure from Ottawa is needed.

"This is an opportunity for Mr. Harper to prove to us that he's not accepting his Canadian citizens to be in prisons unjustly," she said. "We're totally drained from this experience. It's very hard for us to go through all of this again."

The Department of Foreign Affairs would not detail what specific efforts Canada was making in Fahmy's case.

A spokeswoman with the Department of Foreign Affairs would only say that Canadian government officials have raised the case with Egyptian officials "at the highest level" and would continue to do so.

Both the New Democrats and the Liberals have criticized the prime minister for not intervening earlier in the case and have called on him to phone his Egyptian counterpart to personally demand Fahmy's release.

Defence Minister Jason Kenny, however, has defended the government's efforts, saying a "degree of forceful discretion" is sometimes required in complex cases like Fahmy's.

Fahmy, meanwhile, hasn't been allowed to see his family or his lawyers since he was escorted out of court on Saturday.

"I didn't even manage to say goodbye to him," said Omara. "It's very hard for us, what we're going through right now, but we're trying to be strong."

Fahmy's family is also concerned about the 41-year-old's physical health behind bars — he needs medication for Hepatitis C and a shoulder injury.

"I hope the Canadian government understands our situation and tries to act as fast as possible," Omara said. "We don't understand the basis behind this verdict...are they incriminating Al Jazeera and Mohamed and his colleagues are paying the price?"

Fahmy and his family have said his case was fraught with political undertones because Al Jazeera is owned by Qatar, which has had a tense relationship with Egypt ever since the Egyptian military ousted the country's former president Mohamed Morsi amid massive protests.

Qatar is a strong backer of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and Cairo accuses Al Jazeera of being a mouthpiece for Morsi's supporters — charges denied by the broadcaster.

Fahmy also expressed concerns before his verdict about evidence that surfaced in the case showing Al Jazeera didn’t have the necessary licences for its journalists in Egypt — something he said he hadn't been aware of at the time.

The Canadian Press




Harper dodges the R word

Stephen Harper is dodging questions about a possible recession a day before the release of new economic numbers that are expected to show a second quarter of negative growth.

Technically, two consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP signal a recession, but the prime minister isn't talking about that.

He is running on his party's economic stewardship and says he won't get into a discussion of economic technicalities.

He says the economic contraction is focused almost entirely in the oil and gas sector and much of the rest of the economy is still growing.

Harper adds that the real economic threat comes from his political opponents and their spending plans, which he says mean deficits and tax increases.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has no campaign events planned for today, while NDP Leader Tom Mulcair begins the day in Saskatchewan before moving on to British Columbia.

The Canadian Press


Toronto boy dies in Jamaica

A 14-year-old Toronto boy has been shot to death in Jamaica, according to local police.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force said Ricardo Williams was shot several times around 2 a.m. Sunday morning near Kingston.

The teen was attending a wake when the shooting began, police said in a statement.

Williams was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police issued a statement saying they are looking for a person of interest they believe can assist them in their investigations into the shooting death.

A spokeswoman with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada said their thoughts are with the boy's family.

"Canadian consular officials in Kingston are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information and are providing consular assistance to the family as required," said Diana Khaddaj.

The Canadian Press




Canada's Mrs. Universe

An aboriginal woman from Alberta has won an international pageant for married women.

Ashley Burnham, 25, was crowned Mrs. Universe 2015 in Minsk, Belarus, on Saturday.

Burnham is from the Enoch Cree Nation west of Edmonton and is an actress, model and motivational speaker.

As a former finalist in the 2013 Miss Universe Canada contest, when she was then Ashley Callingbull, she noted that she grew up in poor conditions and faced difficulties in childhood that she finds difficult to talk about.

Her Facebook bio says by the time she reached the age of 10, she had consecutively won all Enoch's princess crowns.

Burnham appears in Blackstone, a television show that airs on APTN, Showcase and on Maori Television in New Zealand.

"I'm really overwhelmed right now," Callingbull told the CBC in an interview. "My phone is blowing up. Everything is blowing up. I love it."

The Mrs. Universe 2015 Facebook page says the topic for this year's event was "Domestic Violence and Reflection Over Children."

Burnham said in her bio for the 2013 Miss Universe Canada contest that she never had the perfect childhood everyone dreams of.

"I had an incredibly difficult childhood and was raised mainly by my mother and grandparents," she said in the bio. "My mother as strong as she is, raised me to be grateful for what I have and showed me all the love in the world."

"Things that occurred in my childhood were incredibly painful and it is very hard to discuss. It was difficult to grow up the way I did, but it made me appreciate everything I have and most importantly made me the strong woman I am today."

Burnham was also chosen as Miss Canada for the Miss Friendship International Pageant held in Hubei, China in September, 2010, and represented Canada at the Queen of the World Final held in Germany 2010.

She also represented Canada at Miss Humanity International in Barbados in October 2011.

Burnham graduated from the television program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree focusing on drama and acting/television.

The Canadian Press


Somebody won $7 million

There is one winning ticket for the $7-million jackpot in Saturday night's Lotto 6-49 draw.

The ticket was purchased somewhere in Ontario.

The grand prize for the next 6-49 draw on Sept. 2 will be approximately $5 million.

The lottery's jackpot was last won Aug. 5, when a couple in La Ronge, Sask. held a ticket worth $14.2 million.

The Canadian Press


Journalists sentenced

An Egyptian court sentenced Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and two other Al-Jazeera English journalists to three years in prison on Saturday, prompting a torrent of criticism from governments, human rights advocates and press freedom activists.

In his ruling Judge Hassan Farid said he sentenced the men to prison because they had not registered with the country's journalist syndicate. He also said the men brought in equipment without security officials' approval, had broadcast "false news" on Al-Jazeera and used a hotel as a broadcasting point without permission.

Immediately after the ruling, Fahmy's wife, Marwa, wept in the court.

"I'm extremely sad, and I'm extremely disappointed from this verdict, it is so unfair," she told The Canadian Press.

"I'm asking Prime Minister Harper, that it's time for him to interfere, that it's time to get Mohammed out from here."

"This sentence has shown that it's a political case and they just want to get Al Jazeera," she said, adding "All I'm asking now is for justice and fairness — the same for what applied for Peter."

She was referring to Peter Greste, her husband's Al Jazeera colleague who was deported to his native Australia in February.

Lynne Yelich, minister of state for foreign affairs, said in a statement that Canada is "disappointed" and called on the Egyptian government to do everything possible to allow Fahmy to return to Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted similar sentiments.

The US government also issued a statement expressing disappointment over the verdict saying it "undermines the very freedom of expression necessary for stability and development" in Egypt.

It wasn't immediately clear how the sentence would affect Fahmy and his co-convicted. Greste, however, spoke to Al-Jazeera from Sydney and said he believed an Egyptian appeals court would overturn the verdict.

Outside the court Fahmy's high profile human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, told reporters the verdict had sent an ominous message.

"It sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news. And it sends a dangerous message that there are judges in Egypt who will allow their courts to become instruments of political repression and propaganda," she said.

Clooney added that she hoped Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi would pardon the three journalists.

Al-Jazeera English acting director-general said the verdict "defies logic and common sense."

A slew of others condemned the conviction including the federal Liberals and New Democrats, Amnesty International and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

Both the Liberals and NDP called for Harper to contact Egypt's president directly and take up Fahmy's cause.

The 41-year-old Fahmy's troubles began in December 2013 when he was working as the Cairo bureau chief for Qatar-based satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English.

He, Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed were abruptly arrested and charged with a slew of offences, including supporting the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, a banned organization affiliated with ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, and with fabricating footage to undermine the country's national security.

The trio maintained their innocence throughout, saying they were just doing their jobs, but after a trial which was internationally decried as a sham, they were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms.

Greste was suddenly allowed to leave Egypt before their retrial began, under a law which allows for the deportation of foreign nationals convicted of crimes.

Fahmy gave up his dual Egyptian citizenship while behind bars in the hopes that he could follow the same path, but that didn't happen. He was, however, granted bail in February shortly after his second trial got underway.

Angered by Al-Jazeera's handling of the case, Fahmy has filed a lawsuit in Canada seeking $100 million from the broadcaster, saying that it put the story ahead of employee safety and used its Arabic-language channels to advocate for the Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera has said Fahmy should seek compensation from Egypt.

Fahmy moved to Canada with his family in 1991, living in Montreal and Vancouver for years before eventually moving abroad for work, which included covering stories for the New York Times and CNN.

 

The Canadian Press


Quiet campaign day

A quiet day on the federal election campaign saw the Conservatives promise to continue funding an agency devoted to combating cancer while the Liberals and New Democrats talked about repealing Conservative citizenship and terrorism laws.

The Conservatives announced Saturday that the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer would be given a renewed five-year mandate and $50 million a year beginning in 2017 if they form government.

The organization was set up by the Conservative government in 2006 to implement a Canadian strategy for cancer control.

Its funding and mandate have been renewed twice already, with the current term and cash set to run out in 2017.

The group focuses on improving access to cancer screening and detection, especially in vulnerable populations like First Nations communities, as well as on improving patient care and on data collection.

Saturday's pledge is the first foray into health care policy the Conservatives have made since the campaign began in August.

It came as Harper was spending the weekend out of the public eye, and the low key nature of the pledge perhaps underscores an issue raised by the Canadian Cancer Society ahead of the election — that health care is no longer seen as a top priority on the national agenda.

The society says the Conservative government had taken some positives steps, like the partnership, but there were a lot of missed opportunities.

"What's left is check book federalism: Ottawa takes in and ships out billions of tax dollars for health care but without setting clear national objectives for its investments or effectively measuring their impact," the society said in a report laying out recommendations for the federal party platforms.

The cancer society welcomed the Conservative announcement, issuing a statement saying cancer is a "national health challenge that demands national solutions."

The year the partnership will have its funding renewed is the same year as a Conservative government would start using a new formula to determine how much money it will transfer to the provinces for health care, tying the increases to economic and population growth but promising it would never fall below three per cent a year.

The transfers have become a political hot button this campaign.

The Liberals have said their infrastructure program would require taking the country into deficit and the Conservatives' political rebuttal is to seek to remind people the last Liberal government slashed its a deficit by cutting those health payments.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was the only major party leader on the campaign trail on Saturday, spending his time in the Greater Toronto Area.

Trudeau says a Liberal administration would repeal the Conservative government's citizenship law so all citizens are treated equally.

Trudeau told an Islamic conference in Mississauga that "Liberals believe in a Canada that is united — strong not in spite of its differences, but precisely because of them."

Mulcair has also promised to repeal the Conservative citizenship legislation, which would allow the government to revoke citizenship for anyone convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage offences inside or outside of Canada. The rules also apply to dual citizens who take up arms against Canada by fighting in a foreign army or joining an international terrorist organization.

The Conservatives have maintained the law is needed to combat terrorism.

Mulcair was also off the campaign trail, but the New Democrats put up two of their Toronto candidates to assail the Conservatives' anti-terrorism law and attack the Liberals for supporting it.

The New Democrats say if elected they'll repeal the legislation, which gives intelligence and security agencies greater powers.

The Canadian Press


Explosion rocks oil sands

An explosion at a Syncrude oilsands processing site near Fort McMurray has interrupted operations at the facility.

Ryan Bartlett with the Alberta Energy Regulator says the blast happened early Saturday morning at Syncrude's Mildred Lake site.

Bartlett says in an email that the company reports that all workers are safe, no product has been released and no offsite odours have been detected.

Syncrude spokesman Will Gibson says a fire broke out at the Mildred Lake Base Plant's upgrading complex and was extinguished by Syncrude firefighters.

Gibson says there's no word on what caused the incident, nor is there an estimate on how much damage has been done.

He says only Syncrude employees are being allowed onto the base plant site on Saturday, and the company is asking its contractors to be patient while it responds to the incident.

"Part of that response will be a thorough investigation and we will release further information when it's available. The safety of the people at our site is our top priority," Gibson said.

Bartlett said in his email that there have been no impacts to wildlife or water bodies.

Gibson said air quality at the site is monitored carefully and that there haven't been any concerns.

He said production has been affected but that it's too soon to say how seriously. Such information, he said would come from Syncrude's owners.

"It's too soon to tell how this is going to impact our production," Gibson said. "Other parts of our operation are continuing. It's a very big site up here."

The Canadian Press


Police search for evidence

Police investigating the slaying of a Dalhousie University physics student in Halifax say they are focusing their search efforts on a property in Truro, N.S.

Police say the property off Marshland Drive is part of the same search warrant officers have been acting on since Tuesday.

They say officers will be conducting searches in the Truro area from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. this weekend.

On Thursday evening, searchers found an unspecified number of items of "potential interest" in Lower Truro.

Police wouldn't reveal any information about the objects, but said they were being analyzed.

They said based on preliminary analysis, investigators believe they are connected to the death of 22-year-old Taylor Samson, whose remains have not been found.

William Michael Sandeson, a varsity track athlete who was about to start classes at Dalhousie University's medical school, was charged with first-degree murder four days after Samson was reported missing earlier this month.

A profile on Dalhousie University's website lists Sandeson's hometown as Truro.

The Canadian Press


Fahmy sentenced to 3 years

An Egyptian court has sentenced Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and two other Al-Jazeera English journalists to three years in prison, the last twist in a long-running trial criticized worldwide by press freedom and human rights activists.

Fahmy faced widely denounced terror charges and had spent more than a year in prison before a successful appeal of an earlier conviction resulted in the re-trial which culminated in Saturday's verdict.

In his ruling Judge Hassan Farid said he sentenced the men to prison because they had not registered with the country's journalist syndicate. He also said the men brought in equipment without security officials' approval, had broadcast "false news" on Al-Jazeera and used a hotel as a broadcasting point without permission.

Immediately after the ruling, Fahmy's wife, Marwa, wept in the court.

"I'm extremely sad, and I'm extremely disappointed from this verdict, it is so unfair," she told The Canadian Press.

"I'm asking Prime Minister Harper, that it's time for him to interfere, that it's time to get Mohammed out from here."

"This sentence has shown that it's a political case and they just want to get Al Jazeera," she said, adding "All I'm asking now is for justice and fairness — the same for what applied for Peter."

She was referring to Peter Greste, her husband's Al Jazeera colleague who was deported to his native Australia in February.

Lynne Yelich, minister of state for foreign affairs, said in a statement that Canada is "disappointed" and that Saturday's decision "severely undermines confidence in the rule of law in Egypt."

"The Government of Canada continues to call on the Egyptian government to use all tools at its disposal to resolve Mr. Fahmy's case and allow his immediate return to Canada," Yelich said.

"Senior Canadian officials in Canada and in Cairo are pressing Egyptian authorities on Mr. Fahmy's case. This includes advocating for the same treatment of Mr. Fahmy as other foreign nationals have received."

It wasn't immediately clear how the sentence would affect Fahmy and his co-convicted. Greste, however, spoke to Al-Jazeera from Sydney and said he believed an Egyptian appeals court would overturn the verdict.

Outside the court Fahmy's high profile human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, told reporters the verdict had sent an ominous message.

"It sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth and reporting the news. And it sends a dangerous message that there are judges in Egypt who will allow their courts to become instruments of political repression and propaganda," she said.

Clooney added that she hoped Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi would pardon the three journalists.

Al-Jazeera English acting director-general said the verdict "defies logic and common sense."

"The whole case has been heavily politicized and has not been conducted in a free and fair manner," Mostefa Souag said.

"There is no evidence proving that our colleagues in any way fabricated news or aided and abetted terrorist organizations and at no point during the long drawn out retrial did any of the unfounded allegations stand up to scrutiny."

The 41-year-old Fahmy's troubles began in December 2013 when he was working as the Cairo bureau chief for Qatar-based satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English.

He, Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohammed were abruptly arrested and charged with a slew of offences, including supporting the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, a banned organization affiliated with ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, and with fabricating footage to undermine the country's national security.

The trio maintained their innocence throughout, saying they were just doing their jobs, but after a trial which was internationally decried as a sham, they were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms.

Greste was suddenly allowed to leave Egypt before their retrial began, under a law which allows for the deportation of foreign nationals convicted of crimes.

Fahmy gave up his dual Egyptian citizenship while behind bars in the hopes that he could follow the same path, but that didn't happen. He was, however, granted bail in February shortly after his second trial got underway.

Throughout the proceedings Fahmy has pointed out that his case had been complicated by politics in the Middle East, referring to himself as a "pawn" in a rift between Egypt and Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera.

Egypt and Qatar have had tense relations since 2013, when the Egyptian military ousted Morsi amid massive protests.

Qatar is a strong backer of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and Cairo accuses Al Jazeera of being a mouthpiece for Morsi's supporters — charges denied by the broadcaster.

Angered by Al-Jazeera's handling of the case, Fahmy has filed a lawsuit in Canada seeking $100 million from the broadcaster, saying that it put the story ahead of employee safety and used its Arabic-language channels to advocate for the Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera has said Fahmy should seek compensation from Egypt.

Fahmy moved to Canada with his family in 1991, living in Montreal and Vancouver for years before eventually moving abroad for work, which included covering stories for the New York Times and CNN.

The Canadian Press


Nexen pipelines shut down

Alberta's energy regulator has ordered Nexen Energy to immediately cease operations of 95 pipelines in northeastern Alberta.

It issued the order late Friday due to what it calls non-compliance surrounding pipeline maintenance and monitoring in its Long Lake oilsands project.

Alberta Energy Regulator spokesman Bob Curran says every oil and gas company is required to monitor, inspect and maintain records for all of their pipelines.

He says Nexen couldn't demonstrate that those activities have occurred on those lines.

Curran says the pipelines will stay shut down until Nexen can show the AER that it is complying with the requirements of the Pipeline Act.

On July 15, a pipeline at Nexen's Long Lake project was found to be leaking, spilling about five million litres of a mixture of bitumen, water and sand.

The company, which was taken over by China's CNOOC Ltd. in 2013, said the affected area was about 16,000 square-metres along the pipeline's route.

“Protection of public safety and the environment are the AER’s top priority,” Jim Ellis, president and CEO of the AER said in a news release.

"Given that this company has already had a pipeline failure at this site, the AER will not lift this suspension until Nexen can demonstrate that they can be operated safely and within all regulatory requirements. We will accept no less than concrete evidence.”

The Canadian Press


4 year old to get pot pills

Alberta appears to have stepped back from a fight to stop a four-year-old girl from receiving a marijuana-derived treatment for her seizures.

Brian Fish, lawyer for the girl's mother, says the Crown has withdrawn a request for an order that would have forced his client to stop giving her daughter cannabidiol and submit her to conventional treatment.

The mother says traditional drugs were ineffective against the girl's seizures and doctors were suggesting brain surgery as an alternative.

The Canadian Press is not identifying the girl or her mother because of provisions in Alberta's Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

Cannabidiol is a non-intoxicating part of hemp that the girl was taking in pill form.

The mother says it significantly reduces her daughter's seizures and that forcing her to stop taking it would be cruel.

"Somebody believed that cannabidiol is illegal and that is a basis for apprehending the child. That is not a basis under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act," Fish said outside a courtroom in Leduc, south of Edmonton, after the application was withdrawn.

Fish said it appeared that someone reported the family to child welfare. Workers met with the mother, he said, but she was unwilling to cease her daughter's treatment with cannabidiol, so the province applied for a supervision order.

The mother is seeking a medical marijuana exemption for the girl, something that was already in the works before child welfare became involved, Fish said.

Cannabidiol has been widely touted as a potential therapy for hard-to-treat forms of epilepsy. But many doctors say there's little medical evidence to show if the compound is effective or safe.

In British Columbia, Michelle Arnold and Justin Pierce have been seeking a court order to allow them to continue to use cannabis oil to treat their baby girl, who also has epilepsy and is clinging to life in a Vancouver hospital.

Mary Jane Pierce was born premature at 25 weeks and has been in hospital ever since with serious health problems, including brain bleeding, cerebral palsy and severe seizures.

Pierce said doctors recently stopped administering the oil to Mary Jane, even though he claims the cannabidiol was helping to control her seizures.

A lawyer for B.C. Women's Hospital, however, has said it might have worsened the girl's symptoms.

The Chilliwack couple alleges the Ministry of Children and Family Development pressured them into giving it temporary custody about two weeks ago and moved to remove the baby's ventilator soon after.

A judge granted a temporary injunction last week to keep the child on life support and at a hearing Friday the ministry agreed not to take her off the machine. The parents are set to return to court next month to seek greater control of their daughter's care.

The Canadian Press


Boy dwarfed by fishy catch

A 10-year-old boy from Prince Edward Island who recently reeled in a mammoth 220-kilogram bluefin tuna off the province's northeastern shore says he's not quite satisfied with his potentially record-breaking catch.

Koen Norton set out on his family's charter boat on Sunday in Naufrage Harbour hoping to break the International Game Fish Association's record for the biggest tuna ever caught by a boy aged 10 and under using the stand-up fishing technique.

Norton said it was a thrilling experience landing the monster fish, which weighs more than four times as much as he does.

"Around 1:25 p.m., we hooked up and I fought him for about an hour and then he got tired and I got him up to the boat," Norton, who has been fishing for half his life, said in a phone interview from his family's boat in Naufrage, P.E.I.

"I pulled the rod up and I felt him and I could feel that he was big... and I was thinking that I was going to have the record."

His father Greg Norton said the previous record was set earlier this month by two brothers from Tasmania, who landed two tunas weighing in at 112 kilograms and 122 kilograms. He said before that, the record was only 27 kilograms.

Although his son's potential record blows the previous ones out of the water, Norton said the family is not sending in the application papers just yet.

He said Koen was back out on the water Thursday trying to land an even bigger tuna.

"He did really well fighting that fish," said Greg Norton, adding that a handful of family members were on the boat cheering him on. "That's why he wants to try for an even bigger one."

Norton said his son reeled in the fish without any help, one of the requirements of the association's record.

Koen said the stand-up fishing technique involves squatting and reeling in when standing up from the squat. He said when the tuna tries to rest, he keeps reeling.

His father said catching large tuna of up to 400 kilograms is not uncommon in the Maritimes, but a 45 kilogram 10-year-old boy catching one of this size is unusual.

The Canadian Press


Leaders spar on spending

Justin Trudeau is out to build some campaign momentum with a big-ticket, multibillion-dollar infrastructure plan — and Stephen Harper is wasting no time in trying to tear him down.

Trudeau's campaign event Thursday in Oakville, Ont., complete with a crane and supporters wearing red hard hats, was framed as a major plank in the Liberal platform — one aimed at both stimulating a faltering economy and shoring up the country's crumbling roads, bridges and public facilities.

He billed it as a necessary investment in future generations — one that would require a Liberal government to run modest, short-term deficits until 2019 in order to kickstart the economy.

That willingness to leave the budget out of balance has separated Trudeau from Harper and — in a surprising role-reversal — NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, who both say they would bring in balanced budgets immediately.

"I will be open and transparent and tell the truth about our plans, and I certainly hope Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair will begin to be open and transparent about their plans," Trudeau said.

While doubling current federal infrastructure funding, any shortfalls in the federal treasury over the next two years would be capped at $10 billion per year, he added.

The prospect of a deficit-friendly Liberal government was a sledgehammer Harper needed no invitation to pick up and swing.

"Mr. Trudeau has made tens of billions of dollars of spending promises ... he has no idea what he's talking about when it comes to these things," the Conservative leader said.

"That's why you could be sure that his small deficits will become large deficits and would get Canada into the same pickle of high taxes and program cuts that we had under the last Liberal government."

The Conservative government's own infrastructure program was three times higher than that of its Liberal predecessor, he added.

Harper promised some modest new spending of his own, pledging $40 million to a loan program to help new Canadians while they complete the foreign credential recognition process. The funding would be over five years, on top of the $35 million already allotted for it in this year's budget.

Mulcair was campaigning in Toronto with former Saskatchewan finance minister Andrew Thompson.

The New Democrats are touting Thompson's record of balancing his province's budget in 2006 and 2007 after Mulcair said unequivocally this week that an NDP government would balance its first budget.

It's all made for a dizzying U-turn on the Canadian political spectrum: the Liberals openly acknowledging a plan to spend billions and run deficits, and the NDP insisting they have found religion when it comes to the merits of balanced books.

A pivot of a different sort also appeared to be taking shape on the New Democrat campaign Thursday.

Mulcair said an NDP government would still seek to reverse cuts to provincial health transfers — one of the party's long-standing promises — but he suggested it wouldn't happen soon, because it appears the Conservatives wouldn't be leaving much of a budget surplus behind.

Last summer, Mulcair said it would be a top priority to put any surplus towards countering Harper's plan to begin slowing the rate of increases in federal health care transfers two years from now.

Over the next 10 years, the current plan means the provinces would receive $36 billion less in health transfers.

The Canadian Press


Read more Canada News

26317


Recent Trending





27431


26951

27170






Member of BC Press Council


24002