Stephen Harper added more fuel to his flame war with Kathleen Wynne on Wednesday by throwing another dig at the Ontario premier.
Speaking to a crowd at a London, Ont. rally, the Conservative leader took aim at the federal and Ontario Liberals over the province’s retirement pension plan, nicknaming it the “Justin-Wynne-Kathleen-Trudeau” tax hike.
Hundreds of party supporters packed the Lamplighter Inn & Conference Centre and applauded Harper as he continued to laud his government’s economic record, taking shots at the Liberals.
“Look at the Liberals’ record of financial management, and they come in and they tell us they want to take money so they can manage your personal finances?” Harper said.
“This is unbelievable.”
Local Conservative candidates including Suzanna Dieleman and Susan Truppe were also in attendance.
The “Justin-Wynne-Kathleen-Trudeau” tax hike quip is a recycled — and slightly messier — variation of language the Conservatives used last week to slam the same provincial pension plan and the federal Liberals’ support of it.
At an Aug. 11 press conference, Harper didn’t wait for reporters’ questions to jump at the opportunity to criticize Wynne’s “payroll tax hike” — he returned to the microphone after his speech to emphasize the joy he gets from complicating the pension plan’s implementation.
“I am delighted to see that our refusal to co-operate with the imposition of this tax is making it more difficult for the Ontario government to proceed,” he said.
Shortly after he made the comment, the party issued a release labelling the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan as a “Justin-Wynne Payroll Tax Hike.”
Harper and Wynne have been taking regular swipes at each other both before and after the election was officially called earlier this month.
The Ontario premier has been actively campaigning for Trudeau, repeatedly calling on voters in her seat-rich province to choose a “new” prime minister.
“In this country, we need a federal government that will work with, and not against, provinces,” she said in an Aug. 2 interview with The Canadian Press.
The Conservative leader responded to the barb a few days later with a thinly-veiled jab of his own. While at a campaign stop in Toronto, Harper shared some advice he was given to him about federal-provincial relationships when he was first elected prime minister in 2006.
“They said you will have your best relations with the premiers who are doing a good job in their own jurisdiction,” he said at the time. The crowd cheered.
Canadian voters head to the polls on Oct. 19.
With files from The Canadian Press
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