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This article was published 8/3/2019 (318 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
ROSSER — Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer kept the heat turned way up on Justin Trudeau during a visit to Manitoba Friday.
"The role of prime minister is bigger than any one person, and if he truly had respect for the country, he would do the right thing and step aside," Scheer said while making an early campaign stop at a farm just northwest of Winnipeg to talk about home heating costs.
Canadians aren’t scheduled to go to the polls until late October, so it may have seemed a bit early to be outlining election promises.
Scheer used the backdrop of a dairy farm in Rosser to deliver a promise to give taxpayers the same break on home heating and energy costs they now get on groceries and prescription medications. Both are categorized as necessities and aren’t subject to GST.
Home heating is just as much a necessity as food or prescriptions, he said, adding the plan would cost $1.6 billion in lost taxes, which will be accounted for when the Conservatives unveil budget plans during the campaign.
Scheer is also waging a daily war on Trudeau’s government, accused of political interference in a criminal case involving Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, which led to the recent resignations of two key cabinet members.
Scheer said his party has so far rejected the strategy of introducing a non-confidence motion in the House of Commons that could — with support from within the Liberal caucus or the NDP — trigger an immediate election.
"We’re still trying to use the parliamentary tools at our disposal to get to the bottom of this scandal and break through the coverup Justin Trudeau is engaged in," he said.
Scheer made it clear that discussions between the Prime Minister’s Office and then-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould about using a deferred prosecution in the case aren’t the issue.
"It’s not about whether deferred prosecutions are legitimate, it’s about the fact that Justin Trudeau used his position of authority to intervene in a court case," he said Friday.
"That’s completely unacceptable. I can assure you, I would never interfere in a criminal court case. That’s the difference between Justin Trudeau and me."
The Opposition leader said the Conservatives will, instead, pursue other motions in an effort to hear testimony from Wilson-Raybould about her removal as attorney general and her decision to leave the federal cabinet.
"She has indicated she has important information, and Justin Trudeau has refused to lift the gag order on her," Scheer said.
Last week, Wilson-Raybould told the House of Commons justice committee she was pressured last fall by Trudeau, his senior staff, the country’s top civil servant and others to intervene to stop the criminal prosecution.
Trudeau has acknowledged "an erosion of trust" and put the controversy down to a breakdown in communications between his senior staff and the former attorney general. He has maintained his position that his government has done nothing illegal or unethical.
Updated on Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 8:13 AM CST: Final