Liberals unveil their 2021 election platform, promising billions for post-pandemic rebuild

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals outlined their fully-costed plan to steer Canada out of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday, promising new and extended support funding, and committing to tackle affordability and equality issues in their newly-released 2021 election platform.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau unveiled the 82-page document at an event in Toronto, at the midway point of the federal campaign. In it, the party appears to be targeting some key demographics including young Canadians, families and first-time home buyers, as well as businesses still getting back on their feet post-lockdowns.

“In this election, you have a choice about what the next 18 months, and the next 18 years look like,” Trudeau said. “We have a plan to move forward for everyone: On health, on housing, on childcare, on climate.”

The Liberals are the last of the three main federal parties to release a platform, but are the first party to have their entire platform costed. It comes one day before the first televised leaders’ debate in French.

The NDP presented their platform just prior to the election call, and the Conservatives released their plan on one of the first days of this 36-day campaign. Both parties promised to detail how much their promises would cost later on.

In total, the Liberals’ document includes $13 billion in promised new spending this fiscal year, and a total of more than $78 billion over the next five years.

Throughout the document, the Liberals seek to make their case as to why they are best placed to keep governing.

In offering pointed contrasts to positions taken by the other parties, the Liberals are committing to put billions more into the post-pandemic economic and health recovery, increase the number of Afghan refugees they’ll resettle to 40,000 over the next couple of years, and implement a series of new gun control commitments.

The platform is divided into six key categories that echo the main messages Trudeau has been focusing on in his daily election announcements: the pandemic, housing, health care, the economy, climate change, and reconciliation.

A key focus in the platform is new and continued health and pandemic-related initiatives, with Trudeau describing keeping Canadians safe as “job one.” This includes the promise to, if re-elected, follow through on the government’s plan to mandate vaccinations for travellers and federal workers.

The document does not go into further detail about how vaccine mandates would be enforced, but it does include a promise to advance legislation to protect businesses and organizations that decide to require vaccinations from legal challenges.

On Wednesday, Trudeau used new language as he continues to sharpen his message towards the anti-vaccination crowd as the party continues to face aggressive protesters at campaign stops.

“Over the last little while, you’ve probably seen the disturbing anger of anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. You might have seen them marching downtown against local businesses that are following public health rules, or yelling at a grocery store clerk or a server at your local diner, or even threatening people at one of our rallies,” Trudeau said. “Let’s be clear: It’s your freedom I’m focused on, the freedom of the responsible majority of us who are fully vaccinated.”

Pointing to their work over the last six years, the Liberals say they are confident in the path the federal government has been on, citing their desire to make the $10 a day childcare deals and vaccine mandates a living reality. They also want to revive stalled-out bills reforming the Broadcasting Act and banning conversion therapy, while pushing ahead on climate change efforts.

“Our Liberal team has done so much over the past six years. Just think of what we can accomplish if we have even more extraordinary Canadians joining in,” Trudeau said. “Make sure to choose the future you want. Together, we can measure up to the belief you have in this country, in each other… I’m ready, if you are.”

The Liberals are promising to spend $2 billion over the next five years on measures to address the legacy of residential schools with “truth, justice, and healing” initiatives.

For students, the Liberals are promising to permanently eliminate interest on federal student loans, a move first taken temporarily during the pandemic.

For young families and prospective home buyers, the Liberals are pointing to their pre-announced suite of plans aimed at tackling the affordability crisis.

And, for business owners or those out of work due to COVID-19, a re-elected Trudeau-led government is promising extend the Canada Recovery Hiring Program until March 31, 2022.

Taking aim at an idea first pushed by the Conservatives, the Liberals are promising to introduce enhanced employment insurance measures for self-employed and gig workers, while also leaning into well-trodden NDP territory by promising to make sure big banks and corporations pay “their fair share.”

More coming…

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