Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is set to release his party’s platform roughly six hours after the start of advance polling.
But the decision to drop it on the Friday afternoon right as Canadians head into the Thanksgiving long weekend is already the focus of a political attack by his opponent, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, even before further details of the Conservatives’ policies are clear.
“Now the Conservatives are finally saying that they might release a fully-costed platform later today,” Trudeau told a rally of Liberal supporters in Ottawa on Friday morning.
“The reality is — and I think we all know it — you don’t release your best work at 6 o’clock on a Friday.”
He then tried to link Scheer with Doug Ford, the deeply-unpopular Ontario premier.
“We remember — particularly all of you in Ontario remember well — what Doug Ford did,” Trudeau said. “No platform, and then when he got elected having said he was for the people, what did he do? Cuts, cuts, cuts.”
Trudeau’s remarks are a reference to the common practice of successive governments — including his own — of dropping negative or contentious news on Friday evenings, just as Canadians head into the weekend and when the issue is less likely to receive the kind of prominent news coverage it might get during the week.
His timing was off, though — Scheer will release his platform at 3 p.m. EST on Friday, not 6.
They also referenced the fact that Ford ran his 2018 campaign largely without a traditional party platform. Instead, his team published an online list of promises without a full fiscal plan for how he planned to recoup the promised billions of dollars in budget cuts he pledged to make.
However, Scheer had previously promised to release his platform before advance polls opened.
“We have committed to unveiling our platform with plenty of time for Canadians to make decisions, to go through it,” said Scheer last week.
“It will be in plenty of time for the vote. It will be well ahead of election day and it’ll be before the advance polls.”
Advance polls opened at 9 a.m. on Friday, meaning Canadians will have been voting for at least six hours before Scheer releases the platform he had said they would have before they went to cast their early ballots.
Those early polls are open throughout the weekend and run through until Oct. 14.
Election Day itself is on Oct. 21.
The Liberals released their partially-costed platform on Sept. 29, but only specific planks had been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer rather than the platform as a whole.
The NDP revealed their platform in June, but did not release the costing until Friday at 9:12 a.m., just as advance polls opened.
That costed platform did not include full details of several of the promises the party has made, though, including how they would plan to pay for things like proposed funding for optical care and mental health services.
In contrast, the Green party was the first to release a fully-costed platform on Sept. 25, although the Parliamentary Budget Officer flagged major holes in their proposals. The party ultimately ended up releasing a second version of their costing plans on Oct. 3 that was approved by the office.