OTTAWA — There could be “real consequences” for the Canadian economy if the Liberals form government, Stephen Harper’s finance minister warned Saturday.
Joe Oliver’s message, delivered at a small business in Toronto, comes as the latest public opinion polls suggest the Tories are in a fierce battle as the Liberals appear to be gaining momentum ahead of the Oct. 19 election.
Oliver, who has flown under the radar during the election campaign, held an event to target Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s fiscal plan.
The Grits have pledged to run deficits of up to $10-billion a year for three years to put money into infrastructure projects.
“There is a real scenario in which the Liberals can form the next government and Justin Trudeau can become the next prime minister,” Oliver said. “That would have real consequences for the economy.”
Oliver said the economy remains the number one priority for the Conservatives, especially with the instability in the global markets.
He also took aim at Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberal government.
“We’ve seen the consequences of a Liberal-Wynne government here in Ontario — massive tax-hikes, out of control spending, sky-high hydro bills, business closures, we don’t want that to happen across the country. That, I think, is what is in play in this election.”
Harper was not campaigning Saturday.
Trudeau was in Iqaluit, where he announced a Liberal government will funnel $40 million over four years in to the government’s Nutrition North program designed to bring health food to isolated communities.
The Liberal leader said he will ensure the program, often criticized for operational problems, will be more effective and transparent.
“For ten years, Stephen Harper has been staging his annual photo op in the North, trying to bolster his public image, while ignoring the glaring problems with the Nutrition North program, and failing to help Canadians living in these communities in any real, lasting way,” Trudeau said.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair was in British Columbia Saturday where he campaigned in Victoria and was heartened by word from Elections Canada that the opening day of advance polls saw a 26 per cent increase in voter turnout compared to the opening day of the 2011 campaign.
“For me that’s a harbinger of change, people want real change in Ottawa, the advance polls reflect that,” Mulcair told supporters at an NDP rally.
Mulcair’s campaign team also attacked both the Conservatives and the Liberals on climate change.
The New Democrats put out a news release accusing Trudeau of failing to say what emission reduction targets a Liberal government would bring in.
Trudeau told the CBC on Saturday that a Liberal government would set targets in consultation with the provinces.
“What we need is not ambitious political targets, what we need is an ambitious plan to reduce our emissions in the country,” Trudeau told the CBC radio show “The House.”
The New Democrats also accused Harper of doing nothing to address climate change.
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Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press