Trudeau urges progressives in B.C. to stick with the Liberals, and vote

VANCOUVER — Jack Raymond had only just made up his mind.

Standing at the edge of crowd at an atrium in downtown Vancouver on Sunday afternoon, Raymond and a few hundred people were waiting to hear from Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who was making his final pitch to voters on a whirlwind trip through British Columbia.

"I was waiting till the last minute to decide," said Raymond, who was there with his wife, Sarah Robertson, and had their infant daughter, Bria, in a baby carrier.

The New Democrats earned his vote in the 2015 federal election, but this time he is voting for Taleeb Noormohamed, the Liberal candidate in Vancouver Granville, where ex-cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is seeking re-election as an Independent.

"I think the Liberals and the NDP have enough of their platform in common for me to feel comfortable," said Raymond, a scientist who listed evidence-based policy-making and the fight against climate change as important issues for him in this election.

Those voters on the so-called progressive end of the political spectrum — not necessarily die-hard Liberals, but definitely interested in stopping the Conservatives — have been a major target of the messaging from the Liberal campaign.

All the messaging in the world, however, matters little if the people who hear it do not actually head to the polls, so Trudeau spent his final day highlighting the need for local campaigns to get out the vote.

"We've got a great democracy and we need to make sure we are participating in it," Trudeau said as he visited the campaign office of Patrick Weiler, the Liberal candidate for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country.

"We are taking nothing for granted," Trudeau said Sunday.

The riding is one of many battlegrounds in British Columbia.

Liberal Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, the former mayor of West Vancouver, won the riding in 2015. Previously, Conservative MP John Weston held the seat and before that Blair Wilson, a Liberal who switched to the Greens ahead of the 2008 election.

Goldsmith-Jones, who has been supporting Weiler's campaign, said the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and the Greens all have support in the riding. She said her 2015 victory came from a coalition of progressive voters.

She was asked what a loss for the Liberals here would mean.

"It could symbolize what I think we are seeing in this election across the country, which is difficulty choosing one way," Goldsmith-Jones said.

The Liberals have urged progressive voters to rally behind their party as the only way to stop Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer from becoming prime minister.

The increased popularity of the NDP and Greens, as well as disappointment with the Liberals after four years in power, is threatening their hold on progressive voters.

In Quebec, the Liberals are also contending with the rising popularity of the Bloc Quebecois.

Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet delivered a speech in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., on Saturday night, where he focused strongly on sovereignty.

On Sunday morning, Trudeau seized upon the opportunity to slam his rival on the other side of the country, suggesting Blanchet is favouring the fight for sovereignty over the fight against climate change.

"Canadians need to come together," Trudeau said in a speech at a bakery in Port Moody, B.C.

"We just got a very clear reminder of that last night in Quebec, where the Bloc Quebecois came out and said that its number one priority is separation, is dividing the country once again," Trudeau said.

Blanchet responded Sunday by saying that Trudeau was lying, as the Bloc is not calling for a referendum, and being opportunistic on the eve of the vote.

"If Mr. Trudeau wanted to talk about sovereignty, why did not he do it before?"

The Liberals argue that voter intentions do not always translate into ballots cast, which is one reason why their efforts to get out the vote in these final days could be crucial.

The Liberal campaign made several stops in and around Vancouver on Sunday, including in ridings held by New Democrats, before heading to Victoria for Trudeau's last rally before the polls open Monday.

Scheer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and the Greens' Elizabeth May were all spending the day in the province.

Trudeau, unlike his rivals, did not hold a news conference on Sunday.

He did, according to what he told the rally in Vancouver, find time for a jog.

The Liberals have faced criticism from progressive voters in B.C. over their decision to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project for $4.5 billion, but in Alberta, they have been accused of not doing enough for people who work in the oil and gas sector.

On Saturday night in Calgary, the Liberal campaign was greeted by protesters carrying signs accusing Trudeau of treason, as well as about 1,500 supporters who showed up for a late-night rally.

Trudeau told the crowd there are thousands of progressive voters in Alberta, where the Liberals won four seats in 2015 after having not won a single riding in the province since 2004.

"I know that there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of progressive Albertans who do not feel that (Alberta Premier) Jason Kenney speaks for them," Trudeau said.

At the rally in Vancouver, Raymond said he is disappointed with the Liberals for having walked away from their promise to bring in electoral reform in time for this election.

He also noted the current climate change policies are not enough to have Canada meet its target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, but thinks the Liberals took a positive first step.

His wife, Robertson, is also voting for the Liberals — and volunteering for them too.

"I don't want the Conservatives to be in, at all," she said.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Oct. 20.

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press