POLITICS

Trudeau Shuns Spotlight As Liberals Unveil Costed Platform

09/25/2015 01:59 EDT | Updated 09/26/2015 02:59 EDT

Liberals are set to unveil a full, costed platform in effort to silence critics who say their numbers don't add up.

Just don't expect Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to talk about it until next week.

Trudeau faced three questions from reporters Friday morning on why he will be unavailable to the media for the next three days, even though a number of his candidates, including former cabinet minister John McCallum, will be revealing the party's figures Saturday.

UPDATE: Liberals revealed their plans Saturday to target tax breaks, tax evaders to return to balance

The short answer, after some prodding, is that he is spending time with his family and preparing for Monday's Munk debate on foreign policy.

"Are you hiding after your platform comes out?" CTV News reporter Laurie Graham asked Trudeau at an event in Brampton, Ont.

Trudeau said he looked forward to getting home to see his family, something he said he needs after an "intense time."

The Liberal leader said his team was the first to put out a fiscal framework showing they intend to run three years of "modest," $10-billion deficits, in contrast to the balanced budgets promised by the NDP and Conservatives.

"The other parties have been attacking… us day in and day out," he said, adding that he looked forward to Canadians seeing a detailed, "responsible" plan and answering questions from the media.

Another reporter said in French he needed to repeat the question because Trudeau didn't really provide an answer.

"Why aren't you available this weekend?" he asked.

Again, Trudeau said he looked forward to spending "quality time" with his family and preparing for the foreign policy debate.

CBC News' Margo McDiarmid took a third crack a few minutes later.

"I understand preparation time and family time, but is it not important for you to put your face on your costed platform that's coming out on Saturday?" she asked.

The Liberal leader said that his face has been at the heart of their campaign, and looked forward to taking "plenty of questions" in the weeks ahead on their promises.

Mulcair's reaction? 'Oh darn'

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, campaigning in Sainte-Catherine-de-Jacques-Cartier, Quebec, couldn't resist a jab when asked about the upcoming Liberal platform.

"You mean the one that he said he's already published?" Muclair responded with a chuckle.

The NDP leader followed up with a sarcastic "oh darn" when told Trudeau would not be speaking about his numbers. When asked why he thought the Liberal leader wasn't making himself available, Mulcair said such questions should be directed to Trudeau.

But the NDP leader also brought up that on July 19, Trudeau said Liberals were committed to running balanced budgets.

"Then when (Trudeau's) advisers told him that he was going to be running massive deficits of tens of billions of dollars, he said that that's what he was going to do," Mulcair said. "Now when your advisers tell you two completely different things, you usually have to pick one. You can't say them both."

Mulcair said Trudeau "broke the record" for flip-flopping in an interview with CTV Atlantic last weekend "when in one second he was able to say one thing and its total opposite."

The NDP leader was presumably referring to a Vine released by an NDP staffer that showed Trudeau telling CTV's Steve Murphy that Liberals had a full costing coming out but were the first party to put out a "fully costed framework."

"If he has numbers, let him publish them. We'll look at them," Mulcair said. "But I don't know why he'd be hiding from giving answers for… several days after."

New Democrats released their fiscal plan before last Thursday's economic debate and called on Liberals to do the same. Former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page told The Huffington Post Canada that the NDP exposed their leader with a thin, "Swiss-cheese fiscal costing platform."

The Green Party of Canada was the first party to release a full platform earlier this month.

New Democrats and Tories have accused Liberals of wildly underestimating the costs of their spending promises. Mulcair said last week that Trudeau had "already spent" $10 billion with his commitments. Top Tory Jason Kenney said the plans would lead to a $25-billion shortfall in year one – numbers McCallum called "completely stupid and ridiculous."

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