Harper Government Accused Of Bribing Voters With Child Care Benefit Cheques Just Before Election

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OTTAWA – PM Stephen Harper’s already much maligned government is being accused of bribing voters with child care benefit cheques just before an election slated to take place on October 19.

A $3-billion payout began this week that will see parents receive $160 per month for each child under six, and a new benefit of $60 per month for kids aged six to 17.

The payments are being backdated to the beginning of the year, which means parents will get a big cheque from the government, just three months before voting day.

Surrey Liberal candidate Sukh Dhaliwal said Harper’s unfair system gives money to those who need it least, and only the Liberal party and only Justin Trudeau is offering new leadership and a new plan that will benefit the people of Surrey.

“Harper’s Conservatives are touting the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) payout – which residents of Surrey helped pay for – that unfairly benefits the wealthiest few,” said Dhaliwal, Liberal candidate for Surrey-Newton. “ Harper’s economic plan has failed the middle class residents of this community: they continue to work longer and harder just to make ends meet.”

A Liberal government will replace the UCCB with the new Canada Child Benefit: one bigger, automatic, tax-free monthly cheque that gives up to $533 a month per child directly to Canadian families. With the Liberal plan, 9 out of 10 families will receive more in monthly child benefit payments than under Harper’s system. The Liberal plan will give families more money to help with the high costs of raising their kids, and will also provide more help to lower income Canadians.

Proof that Conservatives are trying to put a wool over voters, Minister of Employment and Social Development Pierre Poilievre denied this is a move to gain votes while wearing a blue golf shirt with a Conservative party logo.

NDP Treasury Board critic Mathieu Ravignat — whose party is arguing the money would be better spent on a national child care program — says it’s not appropriate for Poilievre to wear party logos while announcing funding approved by Parliament.

“He was speaking about the policy while wearing the shirt. There was a clear attempt to brand the Conservative Party by wearing this shirt and that’s ethically unacceptable,” Ravignat said in a telephone interview.

Liberal MP Adam Vaughan, the party critic for the Treasury Board, cited a 2010 ruling by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner that criticized the use of Conservative party logos on cheques and other props during federal announcements.

“Government announcements aren’t supposed to be made with party logos, that’s why they got in trouble with the novelty cheques,” he said, referring to a series of government announcements when Conservative candidates were criticized for handing out cheques with the party brand on them.

Despite the big handout to voters,  a common refrain from many voters was thanks, but …

“Tx I’ll take it but Harper will NEVER buy my vote,” wrote the McLean family from Sydney, N.S. on Transport Canada Minister Lisa Raitt’s Facebook page.

“Got it,” wrote Edmonton father Rick Watson on Twitter in response to a message from Tory MP Tim Uppal.

“Still won’t buy my vote though!”