A look at key developments Monday on the federal campaign trail:
1. Questions about Mike Duffy
Despite his best efforts to talk about Conservative virtue, Stephen Harper found himself once again fending off ever-more pointed questions about the Mike Duffy trial, his former chief of staff Nigel Wright’s testimony and what his current chief of staff knew in 2013 about the plan to pay the senator’s impugned expenses. Regardless of the questions, the prime minister’s answer didn’t change: the two men responsible are Duffy and Wright, who footed the $90,000 bill from his own pocket.
2. Harper pledges $163M for military reservists
Harper, who was campaigning in Fredericton, N.B., promised to spend $163 million over three years to add 6,000 military reservists to bring the reserves up to 30,000 part-time soldiers _ a figure the prime minister initially promised back in 2008 when the country’s last defence strategy was unveiled. Harper warned that the Tories are the only real friends of the military and that other political parties lack a true appreciation of the Forces.
3. Mulcair promises $30M to boost tourism
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair used a stop in Niagara Falls, Ont., to promise an investment of $30 million over three years to help lure more American visitors to Canada. The money will go to Destination Canada, a Crown corporation charged with boosting tourism. Mulcair said Harper has neglected tourism and is putting jobs at risk, although he was forced to acknowledge that Harper presided over a period of strength for the Canadian dollar, keeping tourists at bay. Mulcair also returned to the Duffy scandal, saying Harper has misled Canadians on the issue. Mulcair hopes his party may be able to pick off Niagara Falls, a riding held in the last Parliament by Rob Nicholson, a prominent member of Harper’s cabinet.
4. Trudeau talks middle-class tax breaks
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was in Ajax, Ont., one of the vote-rich communities on the Toronto outskirts which could play a make-or-break role in the Oct. 19 election. Trudeau rolled out a plan for a tax break for the middle class, those making roughly between $45,000 and $90,000 a year. He said it’s time to boost the middle class after years of neglect by the Conservatives. He also underlined his plan for a new, tax-free child benefit, which he said will be fairer and will go to the families who most need help. Trudeau also returned to the Duffy quagmire, accusing Harper’s office of covering up the sordid details of the senator’s expense problems.