The leaders of the Liberals and New Democrats on Friday categorically rejected the Conservative party’s claim that the Liberals would hike the GST to secure NDP support in a coalition government and pay for their combined campaign promises.
“It is unfortunate that the Conservatives keep having to make up attacks against us, but all they’re offering is cuts,” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said during a campaign event in Whitby, Ont. on Friday morning.
“Perhaps that’s all they can do, is make things up.”
When asked about the Tories’ claim about the GST, Singh said Scheer “lied.”
“We absolutely will not raise the GST — no, not whatsoever because it’s not a progressive tax. What we’re going to do is make sure the rich pay their fair share.”
Trudeau’s and Singh’s comments followed demands by Tory Leader Andrew Scheer that the Liberals “have the guts” to explain what taxes will be raised if they want the NDP to have their back in a coalition government.
Scheer has been raising concerns about a hypothetical Liberal-NDP coalition for days, arguing such a thing is possible if no party wins a majority of seats in Monday’s vote.
“A coalition of the two would run a deficit of $40 billion next year alone,” Scheer said at a campaign event in Fredericton. “To pay for even half of these never-ending deficits, the Trudeau-NDP coalition would have to raise the GST from five per cent to 7.5 per cent, or cut completely the Canada social transfer to the provinces.”
Neither the Liberals nor the NDP have ever talked about raising the GST, eliminating transfer payments or running a deficit of $40 billion.
In an interview with The John Oakley Show on Global News 640 Toronto later on Friday, Scheer said the Liberals’ and NDP’s promises combined would “represent” a 2.5 per cent hike to the GST. He acknowledged the idea of a GST increase was a possibility rather than a proven proposal.
“If Justin Trudeau explains exactly which taxes he’ll raise to pay for these NDP promises, then, you know, we’ll stop speculating,” Scheer told host John Oakley.
Asked if he had a single document that could prove that either the Liberals or New Democrats intended to raise the sales tax, Scheer pointed to the parties’ platforms.
“We have their campaign spending promises and we know what that would do to the deficit would increase it by $40 billion,” Scheer said. “And what we said today was in order to pay for that, one option would be to raise the GST by two and a half percent.”
Neither of the two parties’ platforms propose a GST hike of that nature. On GST specifically, the Liberals and NDP have promised to waive the tax on the construction of new “affordable” rental units to spur their construction.
The Green party’s platform contains a few infrastructure- and housing-related GST proposals. Scheer, for his part, has promised to remove GST from home energy bills.
Earlier on Friday, Singh suggested that Scheer is “making things up to scare people.”
In a press release about the hypothetical Liberal-NDP coalition, the Conservatives also falsely claimed that partnership would cut the Canada Health Transfer by 41 per cent and cut the Canada Social Transfer by 100 per cent.
Last weekend, Singh said his party would “absolutely” consider forming a coalition with other parties to ensure Scheer does not become prime minister, but appeared to walk back that statement the next day. Trudeau, for his part, has sidestepped questions about forming a coalition, saying that he remains focused on winning a majority.
The Conservative leader on Friday was also challenged about other claims he has made about Liberal plans, including introducing a tax on capital gains from the sale of a principal residence and decriminalizing all hard drugs — neither of which is on the table.
Scheer defended the home-tax attack by insisting it was floated as a possibility by Adam Vaughan, a Liberal candidate seeking re-election in Toronto, when the party was soliciting policy ideas back in 2018. The idea was never adopted and has been explicitly disavowed by the party.
“It’s not misinformation at all,” Scheer insisted. “We know that the Liberals are contemplating these types of things.”
Accusations of misinformation between the main parties have escalated this week as the election campaign enters its final days.
On Wednesday, Trudeau accused the Conservative party of “running one of the dirtiest, nastiest campaigns based on disinformation that we’ve ever seen in this country.”
Meanwhile, the Liberals have run ads about Scheer’s gun control plan on Facebook, written in Chinese, that claim assault rifles “will spread to the streets” once the Tories are in power.
Asked about those ads by a Global News reporter on Thursday, Trudeau defended them and argued they don’t feature misleading information.
“We have made the commitment to ban military-style assault weapons across this country. Andrew Scheer has clearly said that he will not,” Trudeau told reporters at a campaign stop in Trois-Rivières, Que., on Thursday. “I pass the ball to him and give him the floor.
“Will he ban assault weapons? If he does, we are happy to withdraw any ads to point out that he doesn’t want to ban assault weapons.”
—With files from the Canadian Press, Andrew Russell and Hannah Jackson