OTTAWA — If Justin Trudeau is given another four years as prime minister, he'll make life more expensive for you and your family, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer charged Sunday.
In a message directed at Canadians, his MPs and new candidates who will be knocking on doors this coming federal election, Scheer alleged Trudeau is already making life more costly and said Liberal spending will lead to higher taxes.
"If Justin Trudeau is re-elected, your taxes will go up," Scheer said. "If he is given another four years, everything — from the price of the gasoline you put in your car, to the food you put on your table, to the taxes you pay directly to Ottawa — all of that will cost you more money."
Scheer cited a Fraser Institute study to back up his assertion that Trudeau's Liberals are already costing middle-class Canadians more in taxes. That 2017 study reported that eight out of 10 families with kids were paying $800 more a year in taxes owing to the elimination of certain tax credits and of income splitting, in spite of a Trudeau cut to the middle income tax bracket.
The study, however, did not factor in the Liberals' new and more generous $2-billion Canada Child Benefit, which according to experts, outweighs the effect of higher taxes and leaves those with less household income much better off.
Justin Trudeau keeps telling us we've never had it so good. But that's not what I hear.Andrew Scheer
In a message that hearkened back to Trudeau's own criticisms of prime minister Stephen Harper in the lead-up to the 2015 election, Scheer suggested the current PM is out of touch with Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet.
"Justin Trudeau keeps telling us we've never had it so good. But that's not what I hear," he told approximately 190 MPs and candidates in his pre-campaign speech.
"For the first time, perhaps ever in the history of this country, there is a real sense that future generations will not be better off than those who came before them."
Trudeau Liberals boast of their own record
The Liberals do like to trumpet their record, claiming credit for the unemployment rate at a 43-year low and boasting about the creation of 800,000 jobs.
In a speech to his own caucus earlier this month, the prime minister said his government's actions — from the more generous Canada Child Benefit to enhancement to Old Age Security — are making life more affordable for countless Canadians.
Scheer, however, said that his conversations across the country indicated that the mood is changing.
"Canadians have gotten to know Justin Trudeau and his Liberals very well over the last three years. And ... they're tired of his mistakes."
Trudeau failed to stand up to U.S. President Donald Trump on NAFTA and has not been "serious about threats" posed by the Chinese government, Scheer said.
The Liberals destroyed confidence in the immigration system, he contended, "by making those who obey the law and follow the rules have to wait longer behind those who jump the queue and enter into Canada illegally." (The immigration system and the refugee system are actually separate streams, and asylum numbers don't affect economic migrant or family reunification numbers).
Out west, Scheer alleged, the Liberals are "determined to phase out Canada's oil and gas industry," throwing thousands of Canadians jobs into jeopardy.
'Runaway spending': Scheer
But it was Trudeau's "runaway spending" and structural deficits that were the lightning rod for Scheer's criticisms.
Trudeau will continue to hike taxes, he said, contending that a carbon tax that could hit $300 a tonne would leave Canadians with a $1,000 bill for home utilities.
The past three years have shown the Liberals interested in finding new sources of money — from taxing employee discounts, to taxing health and dental benefits, to changing investment rules for private corporations — tax hikes, he said, that were abandoned only in the face of Conservative opposition.
"Make no mistake," Scheer warned. "He'll bring them back if he's re-elected, when he won't need people's votes anymore but will still need their money."
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The Liberals' 2015 pledge to run three years of modest deficits and bring the country back into the black for 2019 is in "tatters," he added, with the Grits having no plan whatsoever to ever balance the budget. This is important, he said, because "today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes."
As Scheer suggested Trudeau's dark plan for Canada was more taxes, the Liberals suggested Scheer's plan to erase the deficit would involve huge cuts to government services.
In a statement to HuffPost, Navdeep Bains, the minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said: "Andrew Scheer's Conservatives will make deep cuts to services that Canadians rely on so [the Tories] can give tax breaks to the wealthy."
Scheer is a "right-wing populist" like Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Bains charged, saying they campaign on being "for the people ... then cut taxes for the wealthy and services the middle class depends on as soon as they're elected."
Sometimes I think we are doing so well fundraising from committed donors that Justin Trudeau is somehow going to find a way to tax it.Andrew Scheer
Scheer did not take questions from the media and did not have a chance to address Bains' criticism. But in wrapping up his speech he pledged that his team would "finally end the deficits" and "balance the budget" while helping people "get ahead."
The Tory leader looked fitter and had a shorter haircut. He was relaxed and looked thrilled as he boasted about the party's recent pre-election successes:
- The most nominated candidates at nearly 200
- Last year's byelection win in Chicoutimi–Le Fjord, a riding the party hadn't held in years
- Liberal floor crosser MP Leona Alleslev, who, he said, was one of many Trudeau voters making the leap to the Tories
- The Conservatives' huge lead in party fundraising — with $24 million raised in 2018.
"Sometimes I think we are doing so well fundraising from committed donors that Justin Trudeau is somehow going to find a way to tax it," he said, a big smile on his face.