Ahead of the first official leaders' debate on Wednesday, federal leaders took a break from formal policy announcements. Nevertheless, the campaigns continued to push key messages, highlight policy commitments, and make announcements over social media. Here is a rundown of the key policy areas emphasized by the campaigns ahead of yesterday's French-language debate:

Green Party Highlights Universal Child Care Commitment

The Green Party highlighted its universal child care plan on Wednesday. In its platform, released on Tuesday, the Green Party pledges to implement "universal and affordable" child care  by increasing federal child care funding to at least one per cent of GDP and eliminating the GST on "all construction costs related to child care spaces." The Green Party also pledges to expand Employment Insurance parental leave benefits to include leave to care for elderly family members and leave following miscarriages. 

Singh Pushes Affordable Housing Message

On Wednesday, New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh posted a new video on Twitter to continue to promote his affordable housing message. Singh's affordable housing plan has played a central role in his campaign to date, and is often employed as a means of contrasting the NDP with the Liberal government. The NDP leader tweeted, "Justin Trudeau keeps saying he'll fix the housing crisis, but he let prices get out of control. He promised a speculation tax but didn't come through. He won't get big money out of housing so you can afford a home. I will." 

There appears to be a consensus among the federal leaders that action is required to reduce the amount of foreign investment in the Canadian real estate market. While the NDP has pledged to implement a 20% Foreign Buyers' tax on the sale of homes to individuals who aren't Canadian citizens, the Liberals and Conservatives have pledged to ban foreign buyers from purchasing residential property for two years. The Green Party has also pledged to take action by raising the "empty home" tax for foreign and corporate residential property owners who leave buildings and units vacant.

O'Toole Announces New 'Dine and Discover' Program

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole announced over social media on Wednesday that he would introduce a new "Dine and Discover Program" to encourage Canadians to support local restaurants. For a one-month period, on Mondays through Wednesdays, the Conservative plan would see the federal government subsidize 50% of the cost of food and non-alcoholic drinks purchased in restaurants (to a limit of $35 (i.e., a $17.50 rebate) per patron. Under the program, the patron would automatically receive a discount from the restaurant, cafe or bar, and the establishment would then recover the rebate from the Canada Revenue Agency.  According to the Conservatives' estimates, the program will inject nearly $1 billion into Canada's hospitality sector. The Conservative program appears to be based on the U.K.'s "Eat Out to Help Out" scheme, introduced by the Johnson government in 2020. 

Liberal Party Highlights Its Culture and Official Languages Policy

The Liberal Party highlighted its policies on culture and official languages policy -- two central issues for voters in Quebec -- on Wednesday. The Liberal platform pledges to reintroduce legislation that would amend Canada's Broadcasting Act in order to ensure that online, digital video and music platforms contribute to the creation and promotion of Canadian cultural content. The Liberal government sought to make similar changes by introducing Bill C-10 in the last Session of Parliament, but the legislation died in the Senate when the election was called in August. The Liberal platform also pledges to introduce legislation -- based on recent legislative changes in Australia -- that will create a bargaining code to require digital platforms and social media companies that generate revenues from publishing news content online to negotiate with and compensate the Canadian news outlets and broadcasters that produce that content.

Regarding official languages, the Liberals have committed to reintroduce legislation that amends the Official Languages Act (Canada) to "pave the way towards substantive equality between French and English in Canada" and, which according to a Liberal Party media release, would guarantee the right of companies under federal jurisdiction to use French in Quebec. 

Bloc Québécois to Introduce New Legislation Regulating Investments in Fossil Fuels

The Bloc Québécois announced in a media release that it would introduce legislation regulating the ability of financial institutions to invest in fossil fuels. The bill, according to the Bloc Québécois, will force banks to be more transparent about their fossil fuel investments and impose new climate rules, including stopping the financing of new oil projects and requiring banks to submit timetables for the divestment of capital from the fossil fuel industry. The Bloc Québécois is also seeking to implement incentives for banks to shift these investments into green technology. 

Angus Reid and Ipsos Have the Conservatives Ahead

poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute from September 3-6 shows the Conservatives maintaining a slight lead over the Liberals heading into Wednesday night's French-language debate. The survey found that if an election were held at the time of the survey, the Conservatives would win 35% of the vote; the Liberals 32%; the NDP 20%; the Bloc Québécois 6%; the People's Party of Canada 5%; and the Green Party 2%. According to Angus Reid's analysis, while the Conservatives have steadily gained votes since the campaign kicked-off in August, the Liberals have remained below their 33 to 35 percent pre-election range.

new poll by Ipsos also has the Conservatives ahead of the Liberals. The study, conducted from September 3-6, found that if an election were held, the Conservatives would win 35%; the Liberals 32%; the NDP 21%; and the Green Party and People's Party of Canada would each receive 2%. In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals are statistically tied, receiving 34% and 33% of the vote, respectively. 

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