10/09/2015 07:31 EDT | Updated 10/09/2015 09:59 EDT

Conservative Platform 2015: 5 Interesting Takeaways

Time to touch-up on your political knowledge before Thanksgiving dinner.


After running six consecutive deficits, the Conservative Party released its platform on Friday with a promise to ring in surpluses in the next four years.

Much of the platform recycled promises already made in the federal budget released back in April and mashed commitments heard from leader Stephen Harper on the campaign trail.

But inside its 159 pages, there are a handful of interesting takeaways:

1. Extension of Nutrition North

The controversial food subsidy program intended to buck the high cost of groceries in Canada’s north drew the ire of the auditor general last year after a report found the $60-million a year program unaccountable.

The Conservative party revealed Friday they would fund Nutrition North with a new $32-million promise over four years ($8 million annually). The platform also included a pledge to roll out the program to 40 additional communities.

It’s a funding promise that mirrors the one made by Thomas Mulcair when the NDP leader visited Nunavut at the end of September. A group of NDP MPs had earlier asked Ottawa to extend the subsidies to 46 remote, fly-in communities in May.

Harper visited Nunavut on Aug. 14, but did not make any public promises to expand or increase support to Nutrition North at the time.

2. No face coverings at citizenship ceremonies

On the same day Zunera Ishaq took the oath of citizenship while wearing the niqab, the Conservatives reiterated their position on the contentious issue.

In the “Strengthening Canadian citizenship” section, the platform reiterates what Harper has been saying for months: that it's “critically important” for someone to not hide their identity when they “join the Canadian family.”

From the platform:

A re-elected Conservative Government will reintroduce and pass the Oath of Citizenship Act requiring citizenship candidates to be seen and heard when reciting the Oath in community with others, to confirm their commitment as new citizens to Canada's laws and values.

Ishaq, whose federal court challenge helped overturn a ban on wearing the niqab during citizenship ceremonies, was sworn in as a Canadian citizen in a ceremony inside a government building in Mississauga, Ont.

Prior to taking the oath, she identified herself and removed her veil to a female officer in a separate room. Ishaq’s lawyer called the ceremony “very emotional.”

3. Adult Fitness Tax Credit ghost reappears

A broken promise from Harper’s last campaign was resurrected in the party’s platform with a promise to “study the potential scope” of the Adult Fitness Tax Credit.

During the last election, Harper promised to introduce the tax credit, worth up to $75, pending a balanced budget. But when the federal government tabled a balanced budget earlier this year, the tax credit wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

The Huffington Post Canada previously reported design problems associated with the program were handed off to an expert panel — one with zero appointees.

4. Tories keen on removal of ‘tampon tax’

NDP MP Irene Mathyssen sponsored a private member’s bill to do away with the GST on feminine hygiene products — and the government dropped the tax on July 1. And it’s a decision a re-elected Conservative government may keep.

The Conservatives used the motion in its platform to give credence to its “past record of standing up for consumers.”

5. CSC-Habitat for Humanity program extension

The party pledged $3 million annually to a Correctional Service Canada-Habitat for Humanity program that will get inmates involved with helping to build homes.

It’s a funding announcement that extends an existing partnership that serves as a “key rehabilitation program” for federal inmates to acquire job training and skills.

With files from The Canadian Press and Althia Raj

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