Trudeau’s vote-buying schemes extend to provincial politics now

Everybody knows by now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a master at buying votes.

In 2015, he brought in 30,000 Syrian refugees in what he was trying to call an humanitarian mission. But then he quickly changed the Elections Act with Bill C-6 to ensure most of the adults among those refugees could vote when the 2019 federal election rolls around. By 2017, the number of Syrian refugees in Canada had grown to over 40,000.

“Bill C-6 significantly reduces the length of time someone must be physically present in Canada to qualify for Citizenship to three years (from four), eliminates residency requirement for granting of citizenship, and eliminates the requirement for future residency in Canada,” says an analysis of Citizenship Act changes by reddit.com, an American social news organization.

“The amendment will make most Syrian refugees eligible to vote in the next federal elections in 2019.”

From November 2015 to January 2017, over 40,000 Syrian refugees had arrived in Canada. It was clear Trudeau was importing liberal voters. The big changes with Bill C6 can be found in this excerpt from the bill which outlines two important provisions. It says the bill will: “(c) reduce the number of days during which a person must have been physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship and provide that, in the calculation of the length of physical presence, the number of days during which the person was physically present in Canada before becoming a permanent resident may be taken into account; and (d) limit the requirement to demonstrate knowledge of Canada and of one of its official languages to applicants between the ages of 18 and 54…

Well that was only the beginning of these election-rigging exercises. Now, Trudeau’s vote rigging has extended into Quebec. Trudeau called a bye-election in the Quebec riding of Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, only days after pledging $60 million in federal funding for an aluminum-smelting project in the area. Gee, can anybody wonder how the people in this riding will vote?

Trudeau made the announcement three days after visiting the riding with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, where the two offered financial support for a $558-million prototype aluminum smelter.

The project, a joint venture between aluminum giants Alcoa and Rio Tinto, has been billed as the first carbon-free smelter in the world.

Several Liberal cabinet ministers and MPs have also visited the riding in recent weeks to distribute millions of dollars in interest-free loans to local businesses.

“It’s not a coincidence that suddenly the prime minister and the Liberal government are paying a lot of attention to this riding when he did absolutely nothing in the last two and a half years,” Conservative MP Gerard Deltell said Sunday.

No, it’s not a surprise. When the Liberals need votes, they find ways to buy them whether it’s on the provincial level or federal level.

Take Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, for instance. She’s called an Ontario election for June 7.

Take a look at Wynne’s billions of dollars in promises found in this story from Global News:

May 10: The Liberals promised that they would add 3,500 more nurses this year if re-elected. A news release from the party did not state the cost of the new hires, but mentioned the $822-million boost to hospitals announced in the 2018 budget.

May 7: Wynne made an appearance to highlight a $62-million commitment to autism support that was included in the spring budget.

May 3: At a Toronto transit announcement, Wynne said the government would partially fund the Downtown Relief Line, the Yonge North subway extension and the Waterfront light rail transit service. She said the funding was included in her spring budget but the document did not identify specific infrastructure projects the money would be spent on.

May 2: After Doug Ford’s flip-flop on opening up the Greenbelt for development, Wynne said her party would add it to the protected area if elected.

April 30: Wynne announced the Liberals would provide 500 new long term care beds for Francophone seniors.

April 19: The Liberals said they will build 5,000 new beds by 2022 and more than 30,000 new beds over the next decade.

April 11: Wynne made an appearance in Etobicoke and highlighted the party’s $3.3-billion, three-year commit for seniors that was part of party’s latest budget.

April 5: The Liberals announced that in 2019, GO Transit and Union-Pearson Express fares within Toronto will match the TTC at $3 for Presto users.

March 28: The Liberals unveiled the final budget of their term, which came with a $6.7-billion deficit. The $158.5-billion fiscal plan included several previously revealed commitments, including free childcare, the expansion of pharma and dental care, increased funding for hospitals, mental health and long-term care. More highlights can be found here.

March 27: The Liberals announced their budget will include a $2.2-billion commitment for childcare that will provide free childcare for pre-school-aged children starting in 2020.

March 26: The Liberals promised $300 million to expand special needs education. The money would go towards eliminating the waitlist to have children with special needs assessed and to hire 2,000 new teachers and education workers.

March 23: Wynne and the Liberals pledged $2.4 billion to rebuild Toronto’s SickKids Hospital over 10 years.

March 22:  The Ontario Liberals announced a 4.6 per cent, $822-million boost for hospitals for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

March: 21 Wynne promised to overhaul mental health services with a $2.1-billion funding commitment over four years

March 20: Wynne announced a plan to expand free pharmacare (OHIP+) to seniors by 2020-2021 at a cost $575 million when the program is fully operational.

March 19:  A throne speech was delivered ahead of the budget. In it, the government pledged significant spending in health care to tackle hospital wait times and expand home-care and mental-health services, while reducing the overall deficit.

Now, to be fair…all the leaders in the Ontario election campaign are making lavish promises. Conservative Leader Doug Ford, for instance, promised more money for Toronto’s subway system while leaving many communities in Northern Ontario without as much as a transit bus.

And NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has promised full dental coverage to all residents and also to convert student loans to grants.

But the Conservatives and the NDP can’t rely on Prime Minister Trudeau to come through with major announcements to boost their campaigns in Ontario.

With Wynne running way behind Ford’s Conservatives in the election polls, maybe it’s time for Trudeau to come to the rescue in Ontario. Don’t think he won’t. He didn’t let appearances bother him when he dropped in to throw millions of dollars around in Quebec days before a bye-election.

What is clear is there needs to be more stringent election laws to ensure this kind of vote-buying can’t be allowed to continue. Whether it’s a provincial or a federal election, voters shouldn’t be allowed to be swayed by millions of dollars in cash coming from the incumbent senior governments. Elections need to be fairer and freer from tampering.

After seeing what’s happening in the Quebec federal bye-election and the Ontario provincial election, it should be clear this kind of vote buying can’t be allowed to continue.

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Jeff Wilkinson

About the Author: Jeff Wilkinson

Jeff Wilkinson is a retired Canadian journalist who covered a wide range of political stories over a 35-year career in newspapers and radio. He was at Place du Canada in Montreal in 1995 for the Unity rally on the eve of the Quebec referendum. He interviewed former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and numerous cabinet ministers, provincial premiers and many other key political figures both provincially and federally. Most recently he served in the Press Operations Crews at the 2015 Pan Am Games and 2017 Invictus Games.