Pubdate: Wed, 12 Aug 2015
Source: Guelph Mercury (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Allison Jones
Page: A5


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

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

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

"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 in the Munk debate, and while the Liberals have
said they would be there on Sept. 28, they have yet to confirm their

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 longstanding
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
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt