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Politics

Trudeau brings campaign to Halifax, criticizes Conservative cuts

Justin Trudeau is holding a rally in Halifax Tuesday. He’s topping off a day full of campaign stops in New Brunswick and rural ridings in Nova Scotia. The Liberal Leader is hoping duplicate some of the party’s success in the region in 2015.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau drummed up support in Halifax on Tuesday, drawing hundreds to a rally with promises to act rapidly on climate change and make life more affordable for the middle class.

Sharing the spotlight with local MPs, including Halifax’s Andy Fillmore and Dartmouth-Cole Harbour’s Darren Fisher, Trudeau criticized the newly-released Conservative platform, which proposes more than $50 billion in spending cuts to help meet balanced budget targets.

“Andrew Scheer will cut the things you and your family rely on,” said Trudeau from a podium at the Halifax Brewery Farmers Market.

“Andrew Scheer’s cuts are more than double the cost of the Canada Child Benefit, almost 20 times what we spend on student aid, and about five times Nova Scotia’s entire annual budget, for everything from roads to hospitals to seniors.”

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

The Conservative Party released its platform on Friday, proposing to run a deficit of $23 billion next year if elected, with a promise a return to balance in five years with a surplus of $667 million by 2024-2025.

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While the platform includes a series of tax breaks, credits and funding for children’s fitness and arts programs, it proposes to cut more than $18 billion in “prioritized infrastructure spending” over five years. The document also outlines $14 billion in cuts over five years to “other operating expense reductions,” without providing any details, and slashes to corporate welfare and foreign aid that would total $15 billion over five years.

“Liberals believe in giving more help to the middle class and those working hard to join it,” said Trudeau. “That’s why our tax cut, coupled with our plan to slash cell phone bills by 25 per cent, will save the average Canadian family $1,500 per year.”

READ MORE: Trudeau promises re-elected Liberal government would stand up for abortion rights in New Brunswick

Trudeau’s campaign stop followed several others in the Maritimes. The Liberal leader appeared in Fredericton, N.B. in the morning and attended events in the Nova Scotia ridings of Cumberland-Colchester, Masstown and New Glasgow in the afternoon.

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According to the most recent Ipsos polls, conducted exclusively for Global News, the Liberals have a double-digit lead in Atlantic Canada, but aren’t likely to see a repeat of the red wave that saw them take all 32 seats in Atlantic Canada in the 2015 election. The party faces increasing competition from Elizabeth May’s Greens, who hold 15 per cent of the decided vote.

Nicole Figueira, who attended the rally in Halifax on Tuesday evening, said she’s confident the prime minister will keep his promises if re-elected on Oct. 21, despite some disappointments during his four years in office.

“It’s about the future, it’s about moving forward, thinking about getting children involved and the cuts to the middle class,” she told Global News. “It’s about just – we’ve made some progress and to continue it going forward.”

John Bignell, who attended with his wife and children, shared her confidence in the incumbent contender, but said the environment was his top election priority.

“For me, when I look at the world I’m leaving my children, it’s important to get out there and understand the decisions we make today are going to affect them,” he said in an interview.

With files from Andrew Russell