In a dogfight for progressive voters, Trudeau says only the Liberals can beat O'Toole

·3 min read
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, take part in the federal election English-language Leaders debate in Gatineau, Que., on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit)
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, take part in the federal election English-language Leaders debate in Gatineau, Que., on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit)

With his party in a pitched battle with the NDP for progressive voters in the dying days of the election campaign, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said today only his party can keep the Conservatives out of power.

Speaking to reporters at a campaign event in Halifax, Trudeau said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh "likes to say nice things" to woo voters but doesn't have a realistic plan to implement a platform that calls for $200 billion in new spending.

Pointing to a recent platform analysis, Trudeau said Singh has a "terrible" climate policy. Singh has promised major long-term care home reforms, but Trudeau said the NDP leader "doesn't know how to actually deliver for our seniors" in an area of provincial jurisdiction.

"Canadians deserve not just a team with ambition but a concrete plan to deliver. We're the ones positioned to stop Erin O'Toole and the Conservatives from taking Canada back," Trudeau said.

At an event in Essex, Ont., Singh said left-wing voters "shouldn't be afraid" to vote for the party they actually want in power.

"Mr. Trudeau has shown again and again that not only is he not the progressive option but he wants to defend the ultra rich," Singh said, suggesting there isn't much of a difference between Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole.

The CBC Poll Tracker suggests Liberal support is marginally lower than it was after the 2019 election, while NDP support is roughly three points higher than it was following that campaign. This NDP strength could result in Liberal losses, particularly in Ontario and the Lower Mainland of B.C.

In the past, groups looking to stop vote-splitting on the left have called on progressive voters to ignore their party preferences and rally behind the candidates with the best chance of defeating Conservatives.

Singh said that would-be NDP voters should reject calls to vote strategically this time.

"I know that the Liberals have raised this every time. Every election, right near the end, they say, 'OK, now I've got to vote strategically,'" Singh said, adding that the Liberal government has kept cell phone bills high and hasn't delivered on a national pharmacare program.

"There's absolutely a cost to voting for Mr. Trudeau."

WATCH: 'Voting for Mr. Trudeau has a cost': Singh

While Trudeau and Singh slugged it out over progressive voters, O'Toole made a play for more moderate voters at a campaign stop in Saguenay, Que.

O'Toole has made a pitch to disaffected Liberal voters frustrated by Trudeau's record in office. While past party leaders like former prime minister Stephen Harper and Andrew Scheer were more stridently conservative, O'Toole has presented himself as a centrist in this campaign.

O'Toole described himself today as "a new leader with a new approach" and said he's worked hard to bring unionized workers, ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community and pro-choice people into the Tory fold.

"My priority has been to build a Conservative movement where every Canadian can feel at home. Inclusive, diverse, forward-looking, progressive, worker-friendly," O'Toole said. "We're not your dad's Conservative Party anymore.

WATCH: 'We're not your dad's Conservative Party anymore': O'Toole

"I know some of you are hesitant because of things you may have heard or impressions that are a little out of date. I understand that for years you've been let down by the Liberals. But really, if we're being honest, you've been let down by parties of all stripes, mine included, at times.

"I just want to say up front that I know my party has ground to make up, and so I'm here to listen to you."

Asked later how the Conservatives have "let down" some voters in the past, O'Toole said the party all but ignored climate change and ceded working class voters to the other parties. "I've rectified that," he said, pointing to his climate platform and his outreach to labour.

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