Pubdate: Wed, 12 Aug 2015
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Allison Jones
Page: A3


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 sight 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 the debate, 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.

The NDP offers a big tent to Quebecers, even those who supported 
separatism in the past, Mulcair said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom