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 7:00 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

Blaney warns fraudulent CRA tax calls are on the rise

“We are asking people to please be careful.”

Students ‘wow’ at Annual Regional Science Fair

Kids from accross the North Island show off their science projects

Port Hardy Fire Rescue celebrates 50th anniversary

Port Hardy Fire Rescue (PHFR) is gearing up for a big anniversary… Continue reading

Lack of security: why Vancouver Island food production is on the decline

Big Read: agriculture a big, expensive commitment as advocates push to make us more food secure

Port Alice CAO says goodbye for Sayward

“This decision was by no means an easy one to make.”

Toronto van attack suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder

The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others on Monday is a 25-year-old man named Alek Minassian

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

Apirl/May Hot Spots!

Find out what’s going on in the North Island (April 25 - May 2)

Inquest set 10 years after B.C. woman shot, left to die

Lisa Dudley, and her partner, Guthrie McKay were shot in their Mission home in September 2008

B.C. hockey team to retire Humboldt Bronco victim’s number

BCHL’s Surrey Eagles to retire Jaxon Joseph’s No. 10 in light of bus tragedy

B.C. Hells Angels invited to rally by anti-SOGI organizer

The Culture Guard group has helped Hells Angels in the past, said its executive director.

Most Read