TORONTO — NDP Leader Tom Mulcair planned to open the post-Labour Day phase of the election campaign Tuesday night by inserting a little more Justin Trudeau into his stump speech.
Mulcair aimed to highlight what he called the Liberal leader's "inexperience'' at a rally in downtown Toronto, according to an advance copy of the address obtained by The Canadian Press.
The New Democrat leader is clearly trying to differentiate himself from his rival on the centre-left. The extra attention paid to Trudeau, confirmed by one campaign insider, comes as polls point to a tight, three-way race that also includes Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.
In the speech, Mulcair criticizes Trudeau for voting for a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage and then campaigning against it.
He also targets Trudeau for announcing a Liberal government would run several years of deficits, and for voting in favour of the Harper government's anti-terrorism legislation — Bill C-51 — after initially opposing it. Trudeau has pledged to amend Bill C-51, if elected.
"Is that the change we need?'' says Mulcair's speech, which also contains its standard criticism of Harper's decade in power.
"How can Canadians trust a person who so easily abandons one principle for another?''
Mulcair's speech was to be delivered on a day the NDP unveiled its campaign plane. All three major parties now have their planes, and the campaign is expected to amp up following the long weekend that marks the unofficial end to summer and vacation season.
Before the planned rally Tuesday in the crucial battleground of Toronto, Mulcair's stopped in another important area for the NDP: Montreal.
At the city's Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport, Mulcair demurred on revealing costing details of his program, which contains several pricey commitments.
He said he reveal all the revenue sources and costs in due course — and only after the NDP announces a few more promises.
"None of the major parties has yet provided their full accounting, but of course the NDP will be doing that,'' said Mulcair, who also pledged Tuesday to invest $160 million over four years to help the Canadian aerospace industry.
"You can be sure that we're going to produce exact accounting on all the numbers in our platform.''
The New Democrats have promised to balance the books next year if they win power in the Oct. 19 election despite several big-ticket spending promises, such as Mulcair's plan to create one million $15-a-day child-care spaces. That program would eventually cost $5 billion annually once fully implemented in eight years.
His balanced-budget pledge has come under attack by his rivals, who argue a weakened economy means he will be forced to pay for his pledges by hiking taxes and cutting services.
Mulcair has said the NDP would pay for its commitments in part by cancelling the Conservatives' $2-billion-a-year income-splitting measure for families with kids, and by raising corporate tax rates — though he has yet to specify by how much. He has also announced he would close a tax loophole on CEO stock options.
On Tuesday, Mulcair promised to help the aerospace industry, a sector that has seen hundreds of layoffs this year.
He said he would set up a $160-million, four-year fund to help small- and medium-sized aerospace companies adopt new technology and increase production. The plan would require firms to show how they would create jobs and provide professional training to workers.
Mulcair also committed to $40 million over four years for the Canadian Space Agency's development program to help companies commercialize new space technologies, and said he would lead trade delegations to help promote the industry.
"Canadian aerospace innovators and manufacturers need a prime minister in Ottawa who will be a champion for the them on the world stage — and I will be that champion,'' Mulcair said in Montreal, a hub for a sector that hosts the headquarters of companies such as Bombardier and CAE.
In May, Bombardier announced it was laying off 1,750 employees in Montreal, Toronto and Ireland, while CAE said last month it was cutting 350.
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