Policies on veterans, climate change emerge as leaders head back to the trail

Campaign discussions shifted back to meat-and-potatoes policy after fallout from blackface scandal

Discussion on the campaign trail shifted back to meat-and-potatoes policy Sunday after a steady diet of fallout from Justin Trudeau’s blackface scandal.

Recently discovered images showing Trudeau in black- or brownface at costume events before he entered politics dominated the last few days of the campaign, throwing Liberal re-election efforts off course.

After a break from the trail Saturday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer visited Prince Edward Island to promise more robust support for veterans after moves by Liberal and Tory governments angered them.

Scheer said as prime minister he would clear a backlog of veterans’ benefit applications within two years and create a reliable pension system.

“To every veteran who has struggled and who has continued to struggle without the support and benefits you have earned through your service, my message is this: You have been betrayed, but you deserve better,” he said.

Scheer is also promising to strengthen post-service transition supports, help more veterans get service dogs, enshrine in legislation a guarantee that every veteran is treated with respect and gets services in a timely manner, and support commemoration projects such as the National Memorial for Canada’s War in Afghanistan.

“As prime minister I will take a personal interest in ensuring the commitments we made today are followed through on,” he said.

READ MORE: Singh campaigns in Toronto, May in Winnipeg, as Liberal and Tory leaders pause

During a stop in Gatineau, Que., NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pledged to add $2.5 billion to the federal government’s disaster mitigation fund.

Singh says the idea is to help people — like those in west Quebec who recently faced severe flooding — avoid disasters and be able to stay in their current homes.

The national Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund has already set aside $2 billion to support large-scale infrastructure programs that help communities better manage such risks.

The federal government says an increasing number of Canadian communities have experienced significant weather-related events and disasters triggered by natural hazards such as floods, wildland fires and droughts — events that are becoming more frequent due to climate change.

Singh said “we can’t just close our eyes” to the prospect of more weather-related calamities.

Trudeau, meanwhile, is promising a new policy announcement later Sunday at a residential subdivision in Brampton, Ont.

Green Leader Elizabeth May doesn’t have big plans Sunday other than a fundraiser in Victoria.

May was in Winnipeg on Saturday to talk up her party’s plans to combat the opioid crisis by decriminalizing drug possession and improving social supports for people who use drugs.

Asked about the proposal Sunday, Scheer said while he would not recriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, the Conservatives think making other drugs legal is a bad idea.

— With files from Kelly Geraldine Malone

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

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