Party leaders out on campaign trail Sunday turn focus to Toronto

OTTAWA — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is focusing his attention today on the seat-rich region in and around Canada's biggest city as the country prepares to mix politics with holiday meals.

Trudeau is set to blitz areas around Toronto, including a morning photo-op at a Thanskgiving food drive, before rallying supporters in Etobicoke, in the city's west end.

The area is home to Ontario Premier Doug Ford's base of support, but also Liberal MPs seeking re-election, and Trudeau has used the Progressive Conservative premier as a foil this election, including at a large rally on Saturday night in Mississauga.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is taking a down day in Ottawa after spending time in British Columbia, while Green Leader Elizabeth May is also opting for family time with her husband and Green candidate John Kidder and their children.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is spending his Sunday in B.C., starting in Burnaby where he'll vote in an advanced poll before moving on to Surrey for a rally, and then to Port Moody for a volunteer blitz event. People's Party Leader Maxime Bernier is staying put in his Quebec riding of Beauce.

Polls suggest a tight race at the top between the Conservatives and Liberals with eight days to voting day on Oct. 21, and as advance polls open for the third of four days.

There was a palpable sense of nervousness at the prospects of a Conservative victory among the crowd at Trudeau's rally, which included multiple cabinet ministers and a long list of Toronto-area candidates.

"Am I anxious? Yes, I am," said Ken Dietz, who has been volunteering along with his wife for former Olympic athlete Adam van Koeverden's Liberal campaign in the riding of Milton.

Dietz said his anxiety was grounded in fears a Conservative government would roll back what steps the Liberals have taken on climate change and implement sweeping spending cuts like what happened under Stephen Harper and, more recently, Ontario's Premier Ford.

"My hope is people in Ontario will think about what's happening here," Dietz said in reference to recent cuts implemented by the Ford government.

"They may say it's provincial. No, it's conservative."

Sinead Zalitch, who was at Saturday's rally with her service dog, expressed similar sentiments.

Zalitch has an extremely rare vascular disorder called Parkes Weber Syndrome, and she said she is worried a Conservative government would cut services for the disabled.

While she would prefer a Liberal majority, Zalitch said she would be OK with a minority Liberal government supported by the NDP or Greens.

Recent polls have suggested the Conservatives and Liberals are still close to tied in popular support, but with increasing support for the New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois imperilling the Liberals' chances at re-election.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 13, 2019.

—With files from Lee Berthiaume in Toronto

The Canadian Press