Scheer makes Toronto transit announcement

Andrew Scheer (Facebook Andrew Scheer)

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the rising protectionism of the Trump administration and elsewhere in the world is hurting the Canadian and global economies.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's high deficits will also make the Canadian economy less resilient to the shock of another recession or downturn, Scheer said Tuesday.

``Obviously, there are a lot of troubling signs around the world. Any time you see a streak of protectionism go through the world, as we saw with the United States and other countries as well, that always has a negative impact on global growth,'' Scheer said in Markham, Ont. during a campaign stop to highlight promised new infrastructure spending.

Scheer said he's troubled by the decrease of foreign direct investment into Canada, especially in the energy sector, during the Trudeau years.

``Which is, once again, a reason for Canadians to be very concerned about the massive deficits that Justin Trudeau has been running. He has taken away the flexibility for Canada to react in the event of a downturn.''

Scheer said if he becomes prime minister, he would try to protect the economy by making ``Canada the type of place that people want to invest in.'' He reiterated his commitment to cancel the Liberal carbon tax, and lower taxes on Canadians.

``It means getting back to balanced budgets so that less and less of your tax dollar goes to banks and bond holders servicing that debt charge, and more and more of it can go into better services and into tax cuts, which will help individual Canadians and also the economy as a whole.''

Scheer was answering questions after he highlighted how a Conservative government would try to unclog commuter traffic in Canada's biggest city by funding a pair of projects to extend Toronto's subway.

Scheer pledged his party's support for the expansion of the Ontario Line and the Yonge Subway Extension, which he said will shorten commute times to the GTA's northern suburbs and across congested east-west routes.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford's $28.5-billion transit expansion plan includes $10.9 billion for the Ontario line upgrade and $5.6 billion for the Yonge extension. Ford wants the federal government, Toronto and York Region to help foot the bill, but has conceded the province will pay the full cost if needed.

Scheer said Tuesday he would work with the provinces on projects to get them done ``at the right price, and on time,'' but had no other details.

Scheer said Trudeau has not delivered on his promised infrastructure spending of $187 billion that would have eased the woes of commuters.

Trudeau's past infrastructure promises have plunged the country into deficits without leading to new transit spending that would help Canadians get home faster, he said.

Trudeau won the federal election in 2015 by campaigning on the need to run deficits in order to invest in new infrastructure to spur growth. He has not backed away from running deficits in this campaign.

Scheer has vowed that a Conservative government would balance the federal budget in five years, but has yet to release a full campaign platform.

The current Liberal platform projects another four years of deficits: $27.4 billion next year, falling to $21 billion by the fourth year of a new mandate.

Scheer was joined at Tuesday announcement by two suburban Toronto mayors: Frank Scarpitti of Markham, and Richmond Hill's David Barrow.

The announcement kicked off a day of campaigning in the Toronto area, a key battleground where the Conservatives need to make gains in the final two weeks of the campaign.

Trudeau spent two days in the Toronto area last week, laying out the Liberals' gun-control plans at events that also included several area mayors.