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Four things Erin O’Toole has promised to do

Canada

August 25th, 2020

New Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole addresses his party after winning the leadership on the third ballot. Technical glitches with the mail-in ballots delayed results into the early hours of Monday.

New leader of Conservative party of Canada O’Toole released a policy document with some ideas designed to appeal to the party’s true believers and others to appeal to suburban parents he hopes to win over

Erin O’Toole’s successful campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party was full of ideas designed to appeal to the party’s base.

Chief among them was a plan to defund the CBC’s digital operations and halve funding to CBC English television operations by the end of his first mandate. It’s a promise that polls solidly with Conservatives, but less so with the general public.

The issue is just one example of the tricky pivot O’Toole will have to complete as he transitions from winning over his party’s membership to voters in a general election.

Earlier in the year, O’Toole released a 50-page policy document with a wide range of ideas, some designed to appeal to the party’s true believers and others designed to appeal to the suburban parents the party hopes to win over in the next election.

Here are four big promises O’Toole made in his successful campaign for the Conservative Party leadership.

Defund the CBC

On Valentine’s Day this year, O’Toole posted a video on Twitter accusing the CBC of being “out of control” and promising to slash its funding.

O’Toole says he wants to maintain funding for Radio-Canada in Quebec and CBC Radio which “maintains the original public interest mandate” of the public broadcaster.

“Taxpayer dollars should not pay for things like a Canadian version of Family Feud. Nor should they fund CBC News Network, a channel no different from its private sector competitors,” O’Toole’s platform reads.

The issue could be a tricky one for O’Toole.

In 2011, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government promised to keep the CBC’s funding stable, even during a government-wide cost-cutting program. At the time, a poll conducted by the Canadian Press found that 46 per cent of Canadian’s want the public broadcaster’s funding to remain the same, while 23 per cent wanted a funding boost. Twenty-two per cent said funding should be cut, while 12 per cent said it should be eliminated altogether.

Make it rain for parents

During the campaign, O’Toole spoke about the need for the Conservative Party to win back suburban voters, especially in the highly-populated areas surrounding Toronto, that had drifted to the Liberals in 2015.

That’s why O’Toole has tried to present softer edges to the country on highly-charged social issues, like abortion and LGBTQ rights. O’Toole says he is personally pro-choice and has expressed a willingness to march in Pride parades, although he declined to march in Toronto because the parade excludes uniformed police officers.

The other side of the coin for winning back the suburbs is actual coins. A lot of them.

O’Toole’s “family action plan” calls for a $12 billion proposal to double-down on the Liberal government’s boost to the Canada Child Benefit.

While most of the country was locked down in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government sent out an extra $300 payment to help Canadian families with lockdown-related expenses. O’Toole wants to offer the same extra payments on a quarterly basis until the end of 2021.

The plan also promises to turn the existing child care deduction into a refundable tax credit that will cover up to 75 per cent of expenses during the recovery period of the pandemic. The plan will also boost the limits of the tax credit, up to $16,000 for kids six and under and $10,000 for kids seven years old and up.

These proposals likely won’t be controversial themselves, but they may make it hard to get government spending under control, another key O’Toole promise.

Reduce taxes and balance the budget

With untold billions being spent on a weekly basis, the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered the idea of a balanced budget almost quaint.

Without putting a timeframe on it, O’Toole offers some small steps toward getting the books back in shape once the health crisis is behind us. He promises to wind down the spending “in a responsible way,” in a similar fashion to the Harper government’s program after the 2009 financial crisis.

The other side of the coin for winning back the suburbs is actual coins. A lot of them.

O’Toole’s “family action plan” calls for a $12 billion proposal to double-down on the Liberal government’s boost to the Canada Child Benefit.

While most of the country was locked down in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government sent out an extra $300 payment to help Canadian families with lockdown-related expenses. O’Toole wants to offer the same extra payments on a quarterly basis until the end of 2021.

The plan also promises to turn the existing child care deduction into a refundable tax credit that will cover up to 75 per cent of expenses during the recovery period of the pandemic. The plan will also boost the limits of the tax credit, up to $16,000 for kids six and under and $10,000 for kids seven years old and up.

These proposals likely won’t be controversial themselves, but they may make it hard to get government spending under control, another key O’Toole promise.

Reduce taxes and balance the budget

With untold billions being spent on a weekly basis, the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered the idea of a balanced budget almost quaint.

Without putting a timeframe on it, O’Toole offers some small steps toward getting the books back in shape once the health crisis is behind us. He promises to wind down the spending “in a responsible way,” in a similar fashion to the Harper government’s program after the 2009 financial crisis.