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Here Are The Highlights Of The Conservative Election Platform

The Tories were the last of the major parties to release their platform.

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The Conservatives released their election platform Friday. Here are the highlights, starting with job training for young people.

Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Conservatives will create a new job program, at a cost of $40 million over four years, to help up to 2,000 young people get work experience in the skilled trades. They’ll also enhance a tax credit for employers who hire apprentices, at a cost of $240 million over four years. In addition, the Tories will introduce a loan program for apprentices, and work with the provinces “to develop a curriculum that better responds to employer and market needs.”

Furthermore, they'll increase contributions to Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs), which they say could mean up to $2,200 more in savings for young people when they head off to school.

The Conservatives will also eliminate in-study income from the national student loan program so students don’t see their loan eligibility affected by any job they might have. The Tories will make Canada Student Grants available to low- to middle-income students completing short-term, vocational programs of study as well.

A major focus on the economy and balancing the budget.

Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Conservatives say they'll balance the budget every year over the next four and maintain the government's operating budget freeze for another year. They'll continue to try to get the ratio between the country's debt and GDP (gross domestic product) to 25% by 2021.

They'll introduce a law against hikes in federal personal and business income taxes, sale tax rates, and discretionary payroll taxes. They'll keep lowering the small business tax rate to 9% by 2019.

The Tories strict fiscal planning means fewer major investments in the short term. The new investments in their platform are therefore very specific: For instance, they've pledged $5 million next year for a project aimed at "promoting the Canada

Lobster Brand both here at home and in export markets around the world."

The most expensive new investment for the next year is the home renovation tax credit, which will cost the government $185 million. According to the platform, new spending next year totals about $590 million — but rises significantly in the following years.

Making more people homeowners.

The Conservatives want to add more than 700,000 new homeowners by 2020. They'll also up the Home Buyer's Plan, from $25,000 to $35,000.

By the same token, the Conservatives will study foreign home ownership, which has been an issue in major urban centres such as Toronto and Vancouver. "If this is contributing to putting the dream of homeownership out of reach of Canadians, we'll work in coordination with provincial governments to take the appropriate action," the platform says.

Growing the ranks of the military.

Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Conservatives want to grow Canada's Special Operations Forces, which are currently deployed in Syria and Iraq, by 35% over the next seven years. They want to expand the reserves by 15%, while making the recruitment process faster and easier. The Conservatives will also open up recruitment to permanent residents, which can "facilitate their path to full Canadian citizenship." Lastly, the Tories will increase the number of Canadian Rangers in the north to 5,000.

The Conservatives' plan for the military includes maintaining its shipbuilding strategy and an $11.8 billion funding increase to the Department of National Defence over ten years.

Meanwhile, the Tories would open new mental health clinics for veterans, hire new case workers, and introduce a "new and better Permanent Impairment Allowance."

Prioritizing refugees who are religious minorities.

Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Conservatives say they'll accept 10,000 more "persecuted Syrian and

Iraqi refugees fleeing the brutality of ISIS." The government has already committed to bringing in 10,000 Syrian refugees by next September, as well as 3,000 Iraqis in 2015. Canada has already accepted 20,000 Iraqis since 2009, the platform says.

"Religious minorities within Iraq are at risk of genocide at the hands of ISIS, and Canada will provide safe haven," the platform says.

The Conservatives would match donations from individual Canadians to the Syria Emergency Relief Fund up to $100 million.

Still not appointing new senators.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not appointed anyone to the scandal-plagued Senate in more than two years — a move the platform says has saved taxpayers $6 million. "We'll do nothing further to entrench an unelected, unaccountable Senate," the Tory platform says. "Instead, we'll impose a moratorium on further Senate appointments until real reform is achieved."

More tough-on-crime laws.

The Conservatives, who've already made numerous changes to the laws governing Canada's criminal justice system, say one of their top priorities will be passing the Life Means Life Act. Currently, a life sentence means a minimum of 25 years in prison. At that point, offenders can apply for parole — but don't necessarily get it. The new law would eliminate an offender's right to apply for parole after their 25-year sentence is up.

To crack down on the spread of gangs, the Conservatives would — among other things — invest $2.5 million each year for the next four years in the Youth Gang Prevention Fund. They'd also increase the penalties for people carrying prohibited guns.

The Tories would change the definition of "high treason" to include fighting against the Canadian military alongside "jihadist terror groups" — which seems to be a nod to the Omar Khadr case. And under the Conservatives, Canadian citizens would be prohibited from visiting countries that the government deems to be terrorist hotspots.

The Tories would establish a tip line as well "to alert the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to suspected cases of female genital mutilation, so-called honour killings, polygamy, and early and forced marriages."

Emma Loop is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Emma Loop at emma.loop@buzzfeed.com.

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