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The ideas behind the Conservative platform have been percolating for years

News

Welcome to The Hub’s Federal Election 2021 Policy Pulse, where we’ll be tracking all the policy announcements from the major parties, with instant analysis from our crew of experts.

With the election scheduled for Sept. 20, we’ll be monitoring 36 days worth of policy ideas, so watch out each morning for the day’s live blog where we’ll be tracking every announcement as it happens.

4:00 p.m. — The ideas behind the Conservative platform have been percolating for years

The Hub’s editor-in-chief Stuart Thomson examines the ideas fueling the Conservative platform:

Last week, the Conservative campaign made a few heads spin with a few unorthodox announcements. Benefits for gig workers, worker representation on corporate boards, and protecting pensions from corporate bankruptcy were among the major announcements made by leader Erin O’Toole, in a week where he could have been easily mistaken for one of his rivals to his left.

It even provoked Maclean’s to, half-jokingly, run a column about the Conservative plan with the headline: “Erin O’Toole, socialist crusader.”

In the pieceJustin Ling called the Conservative proposals “sensible” and “pro-worker” and wondered if the centre-right party could steal the NDP’s image as the go-to option for working-class voters.

“Nobody can doubt the New Democrats working class bona fides, but one can wonder if they suffered from a lack of competition on that front,” wrote Ling.

But are the Conservatives really moving to the left? Alberta MP Garnett Genuis argues that’s not quite the right way to look at it.

Genuis made a speech last year in the House of Commons arguing that yes, going back to former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, some conservatives have shared concerns about social injustice with communists and socialists.

But where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels argued for class war, Disraeli argued for solidarity between the classes.

“Marx and Engels proposed to change who was at the top of the social hierarchy, but Disraeli sought to challenge the moral condition and the lack of understanding, solidarity and community that led to injustice in the first place,” said Genuis.

With this framing, it’s easy to see why O’Toole would be inclined to throw some support behind labour unions, which are the best way to remedy what Ling describes as “the growing imbalance between boss and employee.”

The American political scientist Michael Lind has been pushing centre-right parties to adopt pro-union policies for years, arguing that corporations are so large and dominant that it’s impossible for individual workers to negotiate a fair salary. Lind pegs this as one of the primary causes of recent wage stagnation.

The idea that a single worker could stand a chance in a negotiation with a company like Amazon, which is worth nearly $1.78 trillion, is not realistic, argues Lind.

“In much of the U.S. economy, a free, highly competitive market in labor does not exist and will never exist. Instead, in many industries, wages are set by informal collusive coordination among all of the firms in a sector,” wrote Lind.

These are some of the ideas fueling the Conservative platform and they have been percolating for a few years now.

It’s not so much a shift left or right, but a realignment that is already underway in the U.S. and the U.K. This election campaign is proving to be a litmus test of how this shift will play out in Canada, if at all.

3:00 p.m. — The Liberal platform shows a preference for ‘cooperative federalism’ and centralization

The Hub’s editor-at-large Sean Speer examines the Liberal platform:

Today Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau released his party’s policy platform. It reflects a combination of policy measures from the April 2021 federal budget and new, incremental promises including many which have already been announced thus far in the campaign. The overall package has been described by Liberal spokespeople as the party’s “most progressive platform” ever released.

Early media reporting on the platform has focused on the amount of new spending ($78 billion over five years) and the impact on the federal deficit ($70 billion more over five years relative to the Parliamentary Budget Office’s pre-election estimates).

But while the sticker shock is significant, that’s partly because other parties have yet to release the full costing of their policy platforms. It’s difficult to know at this stage how the Liberals’ overall spending compares to the NDP and Conservative plans. We do know, however, that no major party will project a balanced budget over a four-year mandate and counting.

One distinguishing characteristic of the Liberal platform is its preference for cooperative federalism in which the federal government actively uses the so-called “federal spending power” to influence and shape provincial programs and policies. The Liberals seem increasingly comfortable to participate in provincial and local policy fields even relative to their own previous pronouncements.

Although no party subscribes to a conception of federalism that legal thinker Asher Honickman has described as “watertight compartments,” it’s fair to say that the Liberal plan is, in specific and overall terms, more centralizing than the Conservative policy agenda.

Take health care for instance. The Conservatives have committed to increasing the Canada Health Transfer’s growth rate to “at least 6 percent per year” but have not proposed any conditionality beyond the parameters set out in the Canada Health Act. (We have previously written about this policy promise and its flaws here.)

The Liberals, by contrast, haven’t promised any changes to the Canada Health Transfer but instead have proposed a series of targeted federal transfers for mental health, wait lists, hirings of doctors and nurses, virtual care, and the wages of personal support workers. While the total sum of these various promises exceeds the cost of increasing the main health transfer to 6 percent annually, they’ll each come with their own strings attached which will result in a more active federal role in provincial health-care systems.

One might argue therefore that the Liberals’ cooperative federalism approach is less about addressing a perceived “fiscal imbalance” and more about directing the design and implementation of provincial health-care programs and policies.

The salary increases for personal support workers is a good (or bad) example. While there may be a case that these workers should earn as much as $25 per hour, it seems odd for Ottawa to impose a “guaranteed minimum wage” across the country divorced from local labour market conditions or the design of provincial care systems.

This preference for cooperative federalism is evident across various other policy areas in the Liberals’ platform as well including child-care, education, and housing.

Different conceptions of federalism are rarely top-of-mind issues for Canadian voters. They tend to be primarily the interest of academics and policy wonks. But this campaign has taken on a more provincial and local dimension than previous federal ones. Perhaps we need a refresher on Canadian federalism. Our political parties certainly do.

1:30 p.m. — Infrastructure promises are only as good as our government’s ability to execute its decision

The Hub contributor Chris Spoke examines the Conservative infrastructure proposals:

Conservative leader Erin O’toole announced his infrastructure plan today. It focused on the need for more public transit, roads, and 5g networks to “connect all of Canada to high-speed internet by 2025.”

Specifically, he promised to kill the Canada Infrastructure Bank and direct funding to projects that “strengthen transit and trade, reduce congestion and grid lock, and advance reconciliation with First Nations”, and not just those with explicitly “green” objectives.

That all sounds great. In fact, “strengthen transit and trade, reduce congestion and grid lock” sounds like four different ways of saying the same thing: improved mobility.

So we can maybe reduce this announcement to a plan for improved mobility and expanded broadband coverage. Great things!

Where we generally stumble as a country is not in allocating dollars to worthy projects but in getting those projects completed quickly and affordably.

Two quick examples:

First, we spend about six times more money to build subway infrastructure in Toronto and Vancouver than comparable cities in Europe and south-east Asia. That’s not great for our goal of improved mobility.

Second, the construction of new cell phone towers is regularly opposed by residents who don’t want them in or anywhere near their backyards. That’s not great for our goal of expanded broadband coverage.

These are problems of state capacity, of the government’s ability to actually execute on its decisions. I’d like to see all parties spend a bit more time talking about that.

12:30 p.m. — Party leaders should take AFN recommendations seriously

The Hub contributor Karen Restoule examines the Assembly of First Nations’ recommendations for the party leaders:

Yesterday, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Roseanne Archibald delivered a platform document outlining the commitments that party leaders should support and implement in order to strengthen First Nations, and ultimately, strengthen Canada.

The priorities don’t stretch too far from what has been tabled in the run up to past federal elections and draw attention to longstanding socio-economic, environmental, jurisdictional, and fiscal issues that have limited First Nations’ success and wellbeing for more than 150 years.

The platform invites party leaders to look forward and take action in five areas: truth and reconciliation, climate change, economic growth, respecting First Nations’ jurisdiction, and strengthening First Nations, and reflect a shared vision and expression of First Nations’ collective priorities at the national level.

Recent polling from Abacus Data shows us that voters in every age demographic are keen to have a government move the dial on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Of note, 32 percent of younger millennials have noted Indigenous reconciliation to be one of the top five issues that will influence their vote, ahead of government spending and deficits, cost and availability of medicines, and other issues.

All federal parties should see themselves in these priorities and consider National Chief Archibald’s invitation to respond and share with First Nations and Canadians broadly where each party stands and how they intend to address the priorities outlined.

After all, we are on Day 18 and have yet to hear from any leader on their plans for the Indigenous-Crown relationship.

11:15 a.m. — O’Toole promises more flexibility for cities on infrastructure funding

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was in Ottawa to highlight is party’s plan for infrastructure, which he says will provide more flexibility to municipalities and First Nations and remove “onerous” requirements to receive funding.

O’Toole also plans to scrap the Canada Infrastructure Bank and get all of Canada connected to high-speed internet by 2025.

10:30 a.m. — Liberals release platform with $78 billion in new spending over five years

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was in Toronto this morning to announce the release of the party’s platform, which includes $78 billion in new spending over the next five years.

Federal deficits would be about $14 billion larger than the pre-election estimates provided by the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

We’ll have instant analysis of the platform today and we’ll be digging deeper, with full comparisons of the three major platforms, as the campaign goes on.

9:30 a.m. — NDP turns the focus back to housing

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was in Montreal today to announce a plan to build affordable rental housing on federal lands in the Peel Basin area.

Singh also highlighted his previously announced housing plan, which includes a plan to build 500,000 affordable housing units, a crackdown on house flipping and a tax on vacant home.

8:30 a.m. — We’re still waiting for a convincing plan for economic growth from the party leaders

Aaron Wudrick, the director of domestic policy program at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, on how to stimulate economic growth:

There’s a mistaken assumption that the government must choose between stimulating growth or working towards balancing the budget. In reality, even in the wake of the significant hit the economy took as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible to do both.

While GDP contracted in Q2 of 2021, this was largely a direct (and predictable) consequence of re-introduced lockdown measures. With vaccination rates now high and key economic measures pointing to growth through the remainder of 2021, the economy will do just fine without the continued fiscal stimulus that all major parties appear committed to entrenching for the foreseeable future.

In fact, there is compelling evidence that growing the size of the public sector through sustained structural deficits and spending can actually constrain economic growth, and does nothing to boost GDP in the long run.

So if continued spending binges are not the answer, what is the antidote to Canada’s moribund growth and large deficits? First, eliminate pandemic spending that is no longer needed, contributes little to growth, and is exacerbating inflation. This alone would go a long way toward reducing the deficit and putting a budget balancing back within reach. No party has gotten this step right.

Second, commit to long term fiscal targets – such as doubling GDP by 2050 and integrate federal decision-making in support of this goal. Third, Canada should emulate policies of more successful jurisdictions, including the investment policies of Ireland and the innovation policies of countries with strong intellectual property protections, such as Switzerland.

Finally, Canada must resolve its unique impediments; namely, it must develop a strategy to build linear infrastructure in a timely manner and get energy products to international markets. Additionally, Ottawa should pursue interprovincial free trade, which itself could lead to a boost of 1.5 percent annually to Canada’s GDP.

By growing the economy more aggressively, we can also climb out of the deficit hole more quickly. Though no party has successfully articulated a comprehensive vision to accomplish it, this should be among the most important goals of the next government in Ottawa. 

7:00 a.m. — Where the leaders are today

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau will be in Toronto to make an announcement at 10 a.m.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole will be in Ottawa to make an announcement at 11:00 a.m.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh will make an announcement on housing at 9:30 a.m. in Montreal.

1,250 Canadians, permanent residents and others still in Afghanistan

News

Welcome to The Hub’s Federal Election 2021 Policy Pulse, where we’ll be tracking all the policy announcements from the major parties, with instant analysis from our crew of experts.

With the election scheduled for Sept. 20, we’ll be monitoring 36 days worth of policy ideas, so watch out each morning for the day’s live blog where we’ll be tracking every announcement as it happens.

4:15 p.m. — 1,250 Canadians, permanent residents and others still in Afghanistan

The Hub’s associate editor Amal Attar-Guzman updates the situation in Afghanistan:

This morning, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said that about 1,250 Canadians, permanent residents and others with Canadian ties are still stuck in Afghanistan. The government will continue to negotiate with the Taliban to attempt to ensure their safe passage out of the country.

The last military flight flew out of Afghanistan yesterday at 11:59 PM Kabul time, meeting the 31st deadline.

Below are the updated final approximate totals of evacuees per country:

  1. US: 116,700
  2. UK: 15,000+
  3. Germany: 5,347
  4. Italy: 5,011
  5. Australia: 4,100
  6. Canada: 3,700+
  7. France: 3,000+
  8. Netherlands: 2,500+
  9. Spain: 2,206
  10. Turkey: 1,400

Many of the evacuees have arrived in Doha, Qatar, a country that has helped evacuate more than 43,000 people. Qatar has declared that it will work with international partners to settle people in coming days.

The security situation in Afghanistan has been unstable. In retaliation of the two bombings, the Pentagon unleashed an airstrike resulting in the killing of two ISIS-K members. Yesterday, a day before the official deadline, the U.S. intercepted rockets targeted at Kabul airport.

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution tabled by the U.S., U.K., and France, calling the Taliban to facilitate safe passage for those who want to leave Afghanistan. The resolution also call for the security of Kabul airport and the allowance of foreign aid into the country.

Thirteen of the fifteen members have voted in favour of the resolution. Russia and China have abstained. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared that he supports the UNSC resolution.

The Taliban pledged that foreign nationals and Afghans with the correct documents can leave Afghanistan. Over the past few days, thousands of Afghans have left Afghanistan on land to neighbouring countries, especially in Pakistan.

In this morning’s press conference, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino says Canada will accept 5,000 Afghan refugees evacuated from the United States. Garneau also added that Canada will work with Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to facilitate the entry of Afghan refugees if they arrive at their borders.

3:30 p.m. — A proper review of the tax system could draw multi-partisan support

The Hub’s editor-at-large Sean Speer examines the NDP plan to close ‘tax loopholes’:

Yesterday NDP leader Jagmeet Singh profiled his party’s promise to close “tax loopholes” in the name of improving the progressivity of the federal tax system, increasing revenues to defray the costs of some of his spending promises, and ending the so-called “free ride for the rich.”

The details of the party’s policy are somewhat vague. The NDP policy platform refers to tax loopholes that “benefit billionaires” and the “ultra-rich.” It singles out the stock options deduction in particular but otherwise doesn’t specify any other policies that ought to be eliminated.

The use of “tax loopholes” is common in our political discourse. It aims to convey a sense that individuals and businesses are taking advantage of flaws or gaps in the federal tax code in order to avoid paying “their fair share.”

But the truth is most “loopholes” aren’t inadvertent. They come in the form of tax expenditures – including credits, deductions, and other preferences – that have been deliberately created by federal policymakers.

The federal tax code is chock full of these tax expenditures. They’re a huge (and oft-ignored) part of federal policy. Just consider the following:

  • As I observed in a 2020 article for the Canadian Tax Journal, federal tax expenditures represent as much as $118 billion in forgone revenues or more than half of the total revenues collected from income taxes and the GST.
  • This amount of forgone revenues is the equivalent of about two-thirds of direct program spending.
  • A 2014 study by former Statistics Canada chief statistician Munir Sheikh estimated that the size of government in Canada when accounting for tax expenditures increased from 44 percent to 54 percent of GDP.

Many of these tax expenditures are justified. They prevent double taxation, honour international tax conventions, or incentivize socially-useful behaviour such as work, education, buying a home, or saving for retirement.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for reform. The NDP is right that these tax expenditures are rarely subjected to close scrutiny and generally tilt the overall federal tax system in a more regressive direction.

There’s a good case therefore that they should be reviewed with the goal to eliminate superfluous or regressive tax expenditures. (I’ve previously written, for instance, in favour of eliminating the Age Credit which has been superseded by other seniors programming and costs about $3 billion per year). The net effect could be to enhance the efficiency, equity, and simplicity of the federal tax code.

One wonders if such a process of review and reform could be the subject of multi-partisan support. The Conservative Party, for instance, has committed to “launch a comprehensive review of Canada’s tax system to improve competitiveness, bring down rates and simplify the rules.” The Liberal Party made a similar promise in 2019.

The design and scope of such a comprehensive tax review is beyond the scope of this post. I’ve previously argued in favour of a model that reviewed the tax system using a public check-list to evaluate the efficacy and equity of individual tax expenditures. But others may have different views on how best to carry out such a review process.

The point is that this type of exercise would be far more constructive than railing against the “ultra-rich” who are merely claiming credits, deductions, and other tax preferences that have been put there by federal policymakers. Maybe it can be a source of commonality in the event that we end up with a minority parliament following the election.

2:10 p.m. — O’Toole bucks convention, with one-third of his major announcements coming from an Ottawa hotel

The Hub’s editor-in-chief Stuart Thomson looks at the new campaigning strategy employed by the Conservatives:

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau campaigned today in a western suburb of Ottawa where the party’s candidate is fighting desperately to hold a Liberal seat. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh jetted out to British Columbia where his party is contesting a seat they lost by the slimmest of margins two years ago.

The parties hope, with a little bit of luck, the leader will provide the extra boost they need to win these vital battleground ridings.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, on the other hand, spent the morning holed up in an Ottawa hotel and spoke to reporters from an air-conditioned conference room with a blue background behind him.

Even on short clips on the six o’clock news, the different approaches are hard to miss.

In the first 17 days of the campaign, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole made more than one-third of his major daily announcements in the party’s Ottawa studio, forgoing the conventional campaign trail, according to The Hub’s analysis of the travel habits of the major party leaders.

The studio was built because the party feared that a resurgence of COVID-19 cases could shut down in-person campaigning, forcing the leaders to hit the hustings virtually. But even with the other leaders still criss-crossing the country, the Conservatives have enjoyed the benefits of their temporary home.

By the end of last week, the party had reached nearly 200,000 voters with the virtual townhalls that O’Toole conducts from the studio. The outreach also gives the party names and contact information for likely supporters, which will fuel a sprawling get-out-the-vote effort on election day and during the early voting period.

Tamara Small, a professor of political science at the University of Guelph, said the strategy will come with some obvious trade-offs. The benefits are the cost savings from avoiding expensive air travel, which can be funnelled into advertising, and a greater ability to control the message at events.

In any political parties, there have always been mixed feelings about these high-profile visits from the leader. Local campaigns have to devote resources to the major announcement and rallies often pull the most enthusiastic volunteers away from door-knocking duties, where their time may be better spent.

And in a campaign where Trudeau has been dogged by loud and angry protests during his events, the prospect of a serene, air-conditioned television studio is surely appealing.

The visuals, which are important for television news and social media, will likely suffer, though.

A major announcement being confined to a hotel conference room runs the danger of looking “sterile,” said Small.

“Backdrops are important,” said Small. “(In a studio), there’s a lack of a visual message that comes when you do these things in person.”

Small also worried that politicians conducting campaigns virtually might be confined to their own supporters, leading the events to be more partisan than a rally in a local community centre.

In a grueling campaign, some leaders also thrive on the energy they get from working a rope-line of enthusiastic supporters, which is a stark contrast from a quiet room full of sceptical reporters.

Based on their experience so far, the Conservatives think all future campaigns will be fought this way. In a recent interview, Fred Delorey, the party’s national campaign director, told the CBC that he expects this will be the “new standard” for national campaigns.

12:05 p.m. — O’Toole promises balanced budgets in a decade

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was in Ottawa today to highlight his party’s plan to balance the budget in the next decade.

O’Toole also promised to wind down pandemic supports in a “responsible and compassionate” way, spend on “targeted stimulus measures,” and grow the economy to the extent that the government can eventually balance the budget without spending cuts.

12:00 p.m. — Singh announces plan to raise taxes on house flippers

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was in Vancouver on Tuesday to announce a plan to raise the capital gains tax on real estate speculators.

Singh said the taxable amount of their capital gains profits would rise from 50 percent to 75 percent.

11:40 a.m. — Fiscal policy deserves more attention than it is getting this campaign

Today Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole highlighted his promise to balance the federal budget within a decade. It represents the first time that any party leader has confronted the question of Ottawa’s unprecedented deficit and rising debt.

The Hub’s editor-at-large Sean Speer recently appeared on Yahoo Finance Canada’s Crisis Management podcast to talk about the lack of attention paid to fiscal policy issues during the campaign and the long-term consequences of high federal spending and borrowing.

Listen to the podcast here.

11:10 a.m. — Canada’s economy shrinks in second quarter of 2021

The Hub’s editor-at-large Sean Speer and content editor L. Graeme Smith highlight the numbers in Statistics Canada’s quarterly economic report released this morning.

Today’s campaign events will occur against a backdrop of Statistics Canada’s latest GDP figures released this morning.

The statistical agency’s release, which reported on Canada’s economic activity in Q2 2021, showed that the economy contracted at an annualized rate of 1.1 percent. These results diverge from a number of projections which anticipated growth over the quarter.

Primary contributing factors for the quarterly contraction include a 4 percent decline in exports and a sharp 17.7 percent decline in home ownership transfer costs.

This contraction comes on the heels of three consecutive quarterly increases, as the third and fourth quarters of 2020 recorded 9.1 percent and 2.2 percent increases in Canada’s real GDP, respectively, and the first quarter of 2021 showed a 1.4 percent increase.

For the month of July, Statistics Canada provided an initial estimate of a 0.4 percent contraction.

These new figures raise questions about Canada’s economic performance for the year. The Bank of Canada’s Monetary Policy Report from July 2021 had projected the economy to grow at a pace of around 6 percent overall in 2021, primarily driven by increased consumption.

This does not appear to be bearing out, as household spending, which rose 0.7 percent in the first quarter, edged up a mere 0.1 percent in the second quarter. Spending on goods has likewise dropped, as 32 out of 48 categories of goods saw decreases this last quarter.

Due in part to slowed consumer spending, disposable income has increased by 2.2 percent. Increased net savings were bolstered through rising compensation of employees paired with increasing government transfers (though this was partially offset by the 2.8 percent rise in personal income taxes).

Canada’s saving rate reached 14.2 percent, which makes this the fifth consecutive quarter that there has been a double-digit savings rate. Whether due to pandemic-related restrictions still limiting the availability of certain goods, or continued uncertainty amongst a fourth wave of COVID-19, Canadian households are blunting their spending and increasing their savings at a higher rate than was projected.

10:30 a.m. — Trudeau promises new Canada Mental Health Transfer

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was in the western suburbs of Ottawa today to promise $4.5 billion over five years for a new “Canada Mental Health Transfer” to the provinces and territories.

Trudeau also earmarked $500 million over four years for a student-focused mental health fund that would go toward hiring 1,200 mental health care counsellors at post-secondary institutions.

8:30 a.m. — Conservative drug policy signals a new direction for the party

Jeremy Eckert Devine, a resident physician specializing in psychiatry at McMaster University, examines the Conservative drug strategy:

Last week, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole announced plans to invest $325 million over three years to build 50 treatment centers and 1,000 new treatment beds in communities across Canada. O’Toole, characterizing his party’s approach to the opioid epidemic, said: “We want recovery and treatment to be at the core of a national program that recognizes harm reduction.”

The announcement signals the CPC’s vision for a new direction to Canada’s drug policy: one which affirms the value of harm reduction interventions, but ultimately places the drug user’s recovery front and centre.

The party’s platform is surprisingly progressive. O’Toole has emphasized that opioid addiction is a health issue and that the criminal justice system should be reserved for dealers, not users. By affirming the important role harm reduction plays in combatting the opioid epidemic, O’Toole distinguishes himself from his predecessors Stephen Harper and Andrew Scheer, both of whom actively opposed harm reduction interventions.

The CPC’s emphasis on funding recovery options for drug users is a much-needed corrective to a Canadian drug policy pendulum which has swung much too far in the direction of harm reduction.

Since coming to power in 2015, the Liberals have allowed their drug policy to be dictated by vocal drug users and drug decriminalization activist groups all of whom uncritically present harm reduction and drug decriminalization as the solution to the opioid epidemic. The result has been the funding of increasingly extreme, untested, and potentially dangerous harm reduction experiments.

In this vein, the Liberals have spent over $60 million on implementing “safe supply” interventions: the controversial practice of providing highly potent medical grade opioids with minimal oversight directly to those who struggle with an opioid addiction with the tenuous hope that the user will decrease their reliance on dangerous illicit street fentanyl. In August 2020, Health Minister Patty Hadju wrote an open letter urging practitioner to offer a safe supply wherever possible.

Of this $60 million, $5 million has been used to establish several opioid vending machines which directly dispense medical grade opioids. Elsewhere, the highly potent heroin clone hydromorphone is freely distributed to severely dependent drug users.

That these interventions are effective in combatting the opioid epidemic is highly questionable; indeed, the opioid epidemic shows little signs of slowing down. Aside from a small dip in deaths in 2019, opioid overdose deaths have steadily risen each year since 2016. From 2016 to 2020, over 21,000 Canadians have died from an opioid overdose death.

The CPC’s commitment to recovery is a necessary and positive change in direction.

7:00 a.m. — Where the leaders are today

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau will be in Ottawa to make an announcement at 10 a.m.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole will be in Ottawa at 12 p.m. to make an announcement.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh will be in Coquitlam, British Columbia at 9 a.m. local time (12 p.m. ET) to make an announcement.