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Promises around foreign aid, gun violence, post-secondary students dominate Toronto-area campaigning

Last Updated Oct 1, 2019 at 8:55 am PDT

Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer makes a campaign stop in Vaughan, Ont., on Monday, September 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Three of Canada's federal party leaders are campaigning in the Toronto-area Tuesday morning

Foreign aid, addressing gun violence, and pledges to help post-secondary students are among campaign promises being made

NDP leader continues to campaign in B.C. while People's Party leader is in southwestern Ontario today

TORONTO – Three of Canada’s federal party leaders are campaigning in Toronto today, with a focus on foreign aid, gun violence, and students.

With the Toronto skyline in the background, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer promised to cut foreign aid by 25 per cent and shift funds away from middle- or upper-income countries to the world’s poorest nations.

Scheer said the savings would be used to pay for his promised tax cuts and credits in this campaign.

“[The savings will] provide much-needed and long-overdue help to Canadian families,” the Tory leader said.

He said he would also redirect $700 million to countries that need it the most, with a focus on support for children in conflict zones.

“There is still an important place for foreign aid, and in fact, we will redirect $700 million in aid to countries with grave humanitarian or refugee challenges, such as much of sub-Saharan Africa, which will receive even more aid than they do now.”

As part of his foreign policy, Scheer promised to provide additional military and non-military support to Ukraine. He took the time to accuse Justin Trudeau of being a weak leader on the world stage, adding the scandals that have plagued his Liberal government have harmed Canada’s international reputation.

The Conservatives have also promised to restore the office of religious freedom, a Harper-era unit of Global Affairs Canada that advocated for threatened religious minorities until it was shuttered by the Liberals in 2016.

Meantime, just north of Toronto, Trudeau sat down with local mayors to discuss his promise to ban assault weapons and let cities ban handguns.

“We are committed to moving forward on the strongest gun control measures in Canadian history, Trudeau said.

However, many of the mayors there said they want to see a full national handgun ban.

The Liberal gun-control plan would outlaw the semi-automatic AR-15 — a military-grade weapon used in many recent U.S. mass shootings — as well as a buy-back program for legally purchased assault rifles, but it stops short of a prohibition on pistols.

On Monday, Trudeau met doctors and other health professionals, some of whom called on him to ban handguns after describing the bloody fallout from rising gun violence in Toronto. Some argued that an assault-rifle ban does not go far enough.

Today marks the second straight day Trudeau has focused on rising gun violence during his campaign.

Green Leader Elizabeth May took the time on Tuesday in Toronto to talk about her party’s plan for post-secondary education. She’s now headed to Montreal for an evening rally.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is in B.C. for his eighth straight day campaigning on the West Coast, while People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier is in southwestern Ontario for several small-scale appearances.