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Trudeau defends carbon tax, attacks Conservatives while announcing tech investments

Last Updated Apr 16, 2019 at 1:57 pm EDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Waterloo on April 16, 2019, where announced a $50-million investment in Ontario's tech industry. CITYNEWS.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Waterloo on Tuesday morning to announce his government’s $50-million investment in Ontario’s tech industry, but he also used the podium to defend the federal carbon tax and attack the Conservatives ahead of a looming election.

Trudeau announced the federal government’s investment in a new platform that would bring together three top innovation hubs — Communitech, MaRS Discovery District, and Invest Ottawa — so they can pool their resources to create jobs and push innovation.

Trudeau said the investment would help 30 Ontario companies achieve revenues of $100 million or more by 2024, creating 18,000 jobs.

He also stressed that his government’s commitment to investing in growth contrasts markedly with his Conservative rivals.

“Conservative politicians whether it’s (Ontario Premier) Doug Ford or (Conservative Leader) Andrew Scheer … who want to continue to cut as a way of trying to create growth and opportunity are completely wrong-headed,” he said. “The cuts that the Ford government are putting forward is exactly the wrong thing for Ontario (and) exactly the wrong thing for Canada.”

On Tuesday, Legal Aid Ontario said the provincial government was cutting funding, meaning the agency’s lawyers would have to stop accepting most new immigration and refugee clients effective immediately.

The Ford government said those costs should be burdened solely by the federal government.

Trudeau said Ford was following Conservative tradition by cutting at the expense of the vulnerable.

“This is a little bit of déjà vu right here where we see Conservative politicians choosing to cut essential services for the most vulnerable people. We all remember when the (Stephen) Harper Conservative government decided to cut health care for refugees … the idea of making cuts to the most vulnerable to save some money and try to balance the budget at all costs is exactly what failed for 10 years under Stephen Harper.”

Trudeau was also asked about the prospect of United Conservative Jason Kenney possibly defeating the NDP’s Rachel Notley in Tuesday’s election to become Alberta’s next premier — and another staunch adversary.

Much like Ford, Kenney has vocally opposed Trudeau’s environmental initiatives, including the federal carbon tax. Kenney has also threatened to take legal action against the carbon tax — a threat that Trudeau mocked.

“I will work with whoever a province chooses to elect as their premier,” he vowed.

“I will say; however, that when we talk about a plan for jobs and plan for growth … It is impossible in the 21st Century to have a plan for the economy without having a plan for the environment. It just can’t happen.

“We have chosen to put a price on pollution right across the country and there are Conservative politicians who are using taxpayer money to fight a price on pollution in court. They are using your dollars to try and make pollution free again, which makes no sense.”