4 takeaways from the Conservative election platform

WATCH: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer offered the Conservative platform on Friday which included scrapping the carbon tax, introducing a universal tax cut and taking the GST off home heating costs.

Andrew Scheer promised voters who are struggling financially that “better days” would come under a Conservative government.

He unveiled his platform in Tsawwassen, B.C., Friday — less than two weeks before Canadians head to the polls.

“Under (Liberal Leader) Justin Trudeau, Canadians are working harder and harder but they’re just not getting ahead,” he said.

“And I hear it everywhere I go. Everything is getting more and more expensive. There’s less and less money left at the end of the month.”

READ MORE: Conservative platform projects $23B deficit in 2020-2021, return to surplus in 5 years

In a bid to make life more affordable, the party is promising relief from income tax in a number of ways.  Scheer is also pledging to axe the carbon tax and slash billions of dollars from the federal budget in order to eliminate the deficit.
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Here are a few key takeaways from the platform, and a look at how the other parties stack up.
Federal Election: Scheer questioned about timing of Conservative platform
Federal Election: Scheer questioned about timing of Conservative platform

The environment

The Tories want to replace Trudeau’s climate plan with a brand new strategy that doesn’t involve taxes on fossil fuels. The first order of business – a promise that long pre-dates the election – would be to eliminate the federal carbon tax.

Scheer’s climate plan  involves setting emissions caps on heavy polluters and making them invest in green technology and research when they go over those limits.

READ MORE: Here’s what Trudeau, Scheer, May and Singh have promised so far on climate change

The Tories also want to take the battle against climate change beyond Canada’s borders, and introduce a “Canadian Clean” brand for environmentally friendly exports.
Scheer says he would restore a tax credit on public transit, at a cost $227 million in year one, and work with municipalities to prevent raw sewage from flowing into waterways.
And they’d proceed with the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a project the Liberals bought and the NDP and Greens are against.
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Scheer’s competitors have been critical of how much progress a Tory government would make on tackling climate change.

Here’s a look at the pledges each of main federal party leaders have made on global warming throughout the campaign so far.

Tax cuts

The Conservative platform promises a “universal” tax cut on the first $47,630 of income earned, from 15 per cent to 13.75 per cent.

The party says that translates to an $850 tax cut for a couple earning average Canadian salaries. The cut would be introduced gradually, but in year four of a possible Tory mandate, it would come at a cost of $5.9 billion.

The party also wants to scrap sales tax on home heating bills, starting at a cost of $1.3 billion in year one, and make Employment Insurance benefits for new parents tax free. That measure will cost about $616 million to start and rise to $1 billion in five years, according to the party’s estimates.

Some boutique tax credits – a specialty of Trudeau’s Conservative predecessor Stephen Harper – are also on offer in the current Tory platform.

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READ MORE: How the Tories’ ‘universal tax cut’ compares to the Liberals’ ‘middle-class tax cut’

Scheer is proposing tax breaks for green home renovations, children’s fitness and learning, as well as promising to increase the age credit for seniors and expand eligibility for tax credits for volunteer firefighters.
Of course, the Conservatives aren’t alone in focusing on affordability in their pitch to Canadians.
The Liberals, NDP and Green Party are also trying to woo voters through pocket-book issues.

Here’s a look at what the parties are promising parents and what kind of tax breaks and increases are being proposed in general.

Balancing the budget

If elected, the Conservatives, like the Greens, NDP and Liberals, don’t plan to balance the budget within their mandate. Their platform is a five-year plan, and that fifth year is when the party is pledging to restore a surplus.
In order to get there, the party wants to find an additional $6.5 billion through cuts and new revenue measures in the first year, which ramps up to $20 billion in the final year. Scheer has vowed that health care and other provincial transfers are not on his chopping block.
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READ MORE: Andrew Scheer promises premiers more health care money if elected

Part of the cost-cutting strategy is to extend the Liberal government’s massive $187-billion infrastructure commitment over 15 years instead of 12. The Tories say they will follow through on existing infrastructure commitments, however.
The Conservatives say they’d be slashing consultant costs, scaling back travel and hospitality and selling federal real estate, among other measures, but they say they will maintain the number of civil servants at existing levels.
The party also wants to cut foreign aid by 25 per cent, end “corporate welfare” for successful companies and introduce new taxes and levies on tech and social media companies.

READ MORE: The Liberal Party released its campaign platform. Here are a few key takeaways

The NDP is proposing to run a deficit of $32.7 billion next year if they win the federal election, with no plan to return to balance.

In launching his platform, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau refused to say when or if a Liberal government would restore fiscal balance. He boasted about the country’s credit rating and said the party has committed to making progress on his preferred fiscal yardstick, the debt-to-GDP ratio.

The Green Party also promised to balance the books in year five, but one analysis, led by the former parliamentary budget officer, expressed concerns about gaps in fiscal planning.

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And more

There were many other noteworthy promises tucked into the 103-page document — some new, some previously mentioned.

  • End needle exchange programs in prisons over concern for the safety of correctional officers
  • Add a free speech and academic freedom component to eligibility requirements for research grants at post-secondary institutions
  • Ban “values” tests for federal funding, such as that in place for the Canada Summer Jobs Program
  • Give judges the option to impose a “true” life sentence — not just 25 years.
  • Enhance background checks for firearms licensing
  • Extend the maximum mortgage amortization period to 30 years from 25.
  • Re-establish the Office of Religious Freedom — at a cost of $1 million per year
  • Open inquiries into SNC-Lavalin, money laundering and the Canadian military’s use of the controversial anti-malaria drug mefloquine.

—With files from the Canadian Press