Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

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OTTAWA — The Liberals and the Greens each unveiled signature elements of their policy plans Monday as leaders taking part in the federal election campaign fanned out across the country.

Justin Trudeau pledged $535 million per year to increase before and after-school child care spaces and cut fees for parents — a program that would require getting the provinces on side, a detail that didn't stop him from demonizing the conservative governments running several of them.

Trudeau is wading into waters that just weeks ago he said he would avoid: he told the Toronto Star in early September that provinces were best placed to figure our how and what kind of child care services were needed in their jurisdictions.

He reframed the issue Monday, arguing the funds were about families as he blamed conservatives for promising measures, only to cut services.

"I always think that's a role for the federal government, to make sure that we are investing families and supporting them," Trudeau said in Waterloo, Ont., as he kicked off a blitz of southwestern Ontario that included questions from reporters for the first time since Friday.

Further down Ontario's main highway stood Green party Leader Elizabeth May, who was in Toronto to release a campaign platform she wants viewed through the lens of the climate crisis.

As an example, she cited her party's own approach to child care. The Greens, May said, would work with provinces and cities to increase the number of spaces, but also to ensure they are located in convenient places for parents via tax credits to employers, so that parents could take public transit to get there with their kids.

The party is also promising to legislate a requirement to see a 60 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, ban hydraulic fracturing and approve no new pipelines, coal, or oil or gas drilling.

Other pledges in the platform include universal pharmacare, eliminating tuition, and lowering the federally set price on legal cannabis.

To fund it all, the Greens are proposing a number of new taxes or tax increases. May said the costs will be worth it, and the budget will balance in the next five years.

"It is a good deal to save all of humanity in the next five years," she said.

"The existence of poverty is really costly. It costs our society when people are homeless, something like $100,000 a year just to put someone in prison. So this is really a good deal."

In a bit of political tit-for-tat with the Greens, the NDP announced Monday it had recruited the former leader of the Greens in Quebec to run for them in riding of Longueuil-Saint-Hubert near Montreal, where the incumbent is Pierre Nantel, a former NDP MP who defected to the Greens.

Singh said it proves the strength of his party's own climate change plan.

Polls suggest the Greens and NDP are fighting it out for third place in popular support, but May said defeating the NDP is not her goal.

"I have nothing against the NDP, I'm not running against the NDP," she said. "I'm running to elect as many of these wonderful candidates as possible so that a caucus of Green MPs can assist Canadians."

May was to depart on a tour of southern Ontario later Monday.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was continuing his tour of B.C. Monday before flying out to Calgary and friendly terrain for his party.

People's Party Leader Maxime Bernier was also moving on from a couple of days campaigning in his home riding in Quebec, heading to New Brunswick for a series of meet-and-greets with candidates.

The Canadian Press