Scheer pushes SNC-Lavalin reminders as campaign moves on to Quebec

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TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que. — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer formally launched his election campaign Wednesday, reviving attacks on Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

Scheer went on the offensive after a report in the Globe and Mail that said the RCMP has been examining potential obstruction of justice in the handling of the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, but has been limited by the federal government’s refusal to lift cabinet confidentiality for all witnesses.

Scheer reiterated past criticism of Trudeau on the issue and called on him to waive cabinet secrecy. Cabinet deliberations are ordinarily kept confidential by convention and law, so that ministers can speak to each other freely while they debate government plans.

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“The facts have been established by hours of parliamentary testimony, tape recordings and an ethics commissioner’s guilty verdict,” Scheer told supporters in Trois-Rivieres, Que.

He promised to get rid of the Harmonized Sales Tax on heating bills and to institute a single tax return for Quebec voters.

The Conservative election platform will have other measures to help voters and lower the cost of living, he said.

While emphasizing the Tories’ main campaign slogan of being a party that will help Canadians get ahead, Scheer made clear that attacks on Trudeau’s credibility over his handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair will be central.

“We made the case that he has lost the moral authority to govern. So over the next five weeks or so we’re going to be outlining our vision for the country to put more money back into the pockets of Canadians and let them get ahead,” Scheer said earlier in Ottawa.

Scheer planned to end Day 1 of the campaign with an evening rally in Toronto.

Vote-rich Quebec is a key battleground province, and Scheer was asked earlier Wednesday about Bill 21, the province’s new secularism legislation, which forbids some public-sector workers from wearing religious symbols on the job.

“I’ve made my views of Bill 21 known. It’s not something that our party would ever consider at the federal level. We will always stand up for the rights of Canadians, and the rights for expression and the rights of freedom of religion,” Scheer said before leaving Ottawa.

Scheer begins the 40-day campaign with polls suggesting the Conservatives are essentially tied with the Liberals and the NDP and Greens are fighting for third.

The Canadian Press

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