Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau speaks to supporters duirng a 2015 federal election campaing stop in the riding of Papineau in Montreal Tuesday

Trudeau on clean Senate, PM tough on drugs

Trudeau campaigns on Senate cleanup as PM talks up tough-on-drugs policy

  • Aug. 11, 2015 6:00 p.m.

By Allison Jones, The Canadian Press, The Canadian Press

With the curtain about to rise on the climactic second act of the Mike Duffy trial, Justin Trudeau promised Tuesday to clean up the scandal-tainted Senate, while Stephen Harper set his sights on neighbourhood drug labs.

The Liberal leader vowed to clean up the prime minister’s “mess,” accusing Harper of leading the “most secretive, divisive and hyper-partisan government in Canada’s history.”

That mess, of course, is the Senate, and in particular Duffy’s trial, which was scheduled to enter its most explosive phase Wednesday with none other than Nigel Wright, Harper’s former chief of staff, as the first witness.

Wright, Harper’s former chief of staff, is the man who provided Duffy with $90,000 of his own money to repay his disallowed housing and travel expenses. The former Conservative senator has pleaded not guilty to 31 charges including fraud, bribery and breach of trust.

Trudeau, determined to keep the Conservative scandal top of mind for Canadians, spoke Tuesday of transparency, saying it would be a fundamental principle in a Liberal government.

He also promised to bring in a merit-based appointment process to the Senate.

Harper, meanwhile, tried to avoid being drawn back into the Duffy fray with yet another policy announcement — his fifth with the 11-week campaign still in its infancy — before travelling to B.C. and later northern Canada.

Harper promised a 20-per-cent increase in funding — to almost $27 million a year — to help the RCMP target marijuana grow-ops and meth labs and another $500,000 a year over four years on a national toll-free hotline for parents to get information about drug use among the country’s youth.

And he took the opportunity to score some points on Trudeau, who has already pledged his support for legalizing marijuana.

In jurisdictions where marijuana is legal, such as parts of the U.S. and Europe, the drug becomes “more readily available to children, more people become addicted,” and there is a decline in health outcomes, Harper said.

“We just think that’s the wrong direction for society and I don’t think that’s the way most Canadians want to deal with this particular problem.”

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, however, was more interested in Harper’s travel itinerary, in particular the fact he was getting as geographically far away from Ottawa as possible.

“I do find it interesting that Mr. Harper has decided to try to hide out in the North Pole during the Mike Duffy trial this week,” Mulcair said.

“On a whole series of subjects, Mr. Harper has said one thing and its opposite in the Mike Duffy affair. You can’t say one thing and then its opposite and have them both be true. A lot of that is going to be catching up with Mr. Harper this week. He can run but he can’t hide.”

Mulcair later confirmed he would participate in a bilingual Munk Debate on foreign affairs, after having said he would only be there if Harper was and if there would be an equal number of debates in both official languages.

Confusion, however, continued to reign Tuesday. The Conservatives have agreed to participate, and while the Liberals have said they would be there on Sept. 28, they have yet to confirm their attendance.

Green party Leader Elizabeth May was not invited.

While campaigning in Quebec, a province the NDP dominated in 2011, Mulcair got some welcome news: one of the province’s largest and sovereigntist-leaning labour federations has dropped its long-standing endorsement of the Bloc Quebecois and some of its member unions are supporting the New Democrats.

Mulcair said he will “work hard to maintain the support” of unions in Quebec in order to “expand our traditional base and rally progressives across Quebec and Canada.”

The Quebec Federation of Labour, also known as the FTQ, covers 37 labour unions and counts 600,000 members.

The NDP offers a big tent to Quebecers, even those who supported separatism in the past, Mulcair said.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Several fires burning in Lower Similkameen

At least one fire near Keremeos was caused by lightening

911 jams causes panic among residents

RDOS chair received several calls and texts from panicked residents unable to get through to 911

Update: Lightning sparks blaze above Summerland

Firefighters are battling the small fire from the area that occurred Tuesday shortly after 7 p.m.

Lightning strikes across B.C. Interior

Residents are being asked to go inside until last rumble of thunder

Firefighters respond to roadside brush fire

Fire next to Highway 97 being brought under control.

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Lightning strikes West Kelowna condo

Fire crews were called to a building on Carrington Road Tuesday night

Lightning sparks wildfires in Vernon

Tuesday night storm causes wildfire in BX and residential fire in East Hill

Crash closes Highway 5A in both directions

A collision has shut down Highway 5A about 22 kilometres south of the junction with Highway 97C

UPDATE: Smoke rising from Okanagan Mountain Park hills

Lightning may have sparked a fire in the hills across from Peachland

UPDATE: Crews battle wildfire near Big White

Joe Rich Fire Department responding alongside Big White Fire Department and provincial crews.

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Pike Mountain fire continues to grow – quadruples in 24 hours

Fire threatens area consumed in 2017 by a 3,500 hectare blaze

Vernon Knights hire Van Horlick

New head coach of Junior B franchise in Armstrong

Most Read