Party leaders make final push as campaigns wind down

·4 min read
Party leaders make final push as campaigns wind down
Composite illustration featuring Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O'Toole, centre, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.  (Andrej Ivanov/AFP/Getty Images, Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press, Patrick Doyle/Reuters - image credit)
Composite illustration featuring Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O'Toole, centre, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. (Andrej Ivanov/AFP/Getty Images, Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press, Patrick Doyle/Reuters - image credit)

The main party leaders spent Saturday morning touting their plans for the country and attacking one another as the federal election campaign approaches its conclusion.

In Aurora, Ont., Liberal leader Justin Trudeau focused on touting his government's pandemic response and housing plan.

"We looked at the housing crisis and we said, okay, what kind of measures can we apply to the housing crisis with the same intensity and urgency we did on the pandemic?" he said.

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, his main competitor in the polls, was the one in his crosshairs Saturday morning. Trudeau criticized O'Toole on mandatory vaccinations — including for Conservative Party candidates who may not have been vaccinated.

WATCH | Asked why he is limiting questions, O'Toole defends his campaign

"Mr. O'Toole won't respect the science, won't respect people who want to get back to normal, and take even the simplest step of demanding that all his candidates be vaccinated to lead by example," Trudeau said.

"He's defending the freedoms and the choice of anti-vaxxers who are putting us all at risk."

O'Toole fires back

At a news conference in Dundas, Ont., O'Toole made his own pitch to voters, with a focus on the state of the economy and his economic plan.

"Prices are out of control, spending is out of control, secure jobs are harder to come by," O'Toole said.

O'Toole also took the opportunity to paint Trudeau as vain, and criticized Trudeau for the election call.

"People simply can't understand why the prime minister would call a $600 million unnecessary election in the middle of a pandemic," he said. "Justin Trudeau has no vision for Canada, other than him being at the head of it. His strategy is to divide and conquer, wedge issue after wedge issue, division, and countless broken promises."

But Trudeau wasn't the only subject of O'Toole's denunciation, as the Conservative leader also asked Canadians to choose his party over smaller parties. The right-wing People's Party of Canada, led by former Conservative Maxime Bernier, has seen a significant jump in its polling numbers this campaign.

WATCH | Trudeau asked if this is his last election

"Voting for other parties that cannot win, no matter how aggrieved or angry you may feel, will not get Trudeau out," he said. "Your frustration will be double if we wake up Tuesday morning to another Justin Trudeau government."

Singh focuses on healthcare

In Saskatoon, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh opened his news conference by speaking about the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on health-care workers.

He also took shots at Liberal and Conservative governments, saying that they have not adequately funded health care. He said an NDP government would offer more supports for the sector.

"We're going to fight to make sure you get the funds, the resources, the work conditions and the staffing levels necessary to deliver the care that you know that you can and want to deliver," he said, later attacking the Liberals and Conservatives for voting against an NDP motion that sought to abolish for-profit long-term-care homes.

WATCH | Singh asked why voters should choose him over Conservatives

He also addressed the controversy over former Fort York–Spadina Liberal candidate Kevin Vuong, whom the party dropped because of a past dropped charge relating to sexual misconduct.

"The Liberals took two days to decide to release or to get rid of this candidate. … It shouldn't have even taken 20 minutes," Singh said.

Meanwhile, in Quebec, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said he intends to make the most of the little time left in the campaign.

"We're still in the campaign for two days, and each second of those two days will be given to getting the best possible result for Quebecers," he said.

WATCH | Blanchet believes next parliament will last longer

He also acknowledged a controversial question in the English debate on Quebec Bills 21 and 96 — the laws to promote secularism and the French language in the province. Moderator Shachi Kurl called the bills "discriminatory," to which Blanchet took exception. It's a moment that appears to have given the Bloc a boost late in the campaign.

"It's not a question that was a surprise," he said. "It's only a revelation of what many very institutional people think of us, Quebecers."

Green Party leader Annamie Paul left her usual campaign spot in Toronto and was in Victoria today. Paul held events on Vancouver Island with local Green MPs Elizabeth May and Paul Manly.

Paul took the opportunity to make a pitch to voters in British Columbia, the province where the Greens have seen the most success.

"Certainly, given what British Columbia has meant to the Green Party and continues to mean to the Green Party, it was very important to us to do all we could, even in these last days of the campaign, to come out here and support our fantastic candidates," Paul said.

WATCH | 'I'm disappointed,' said Green Party leader on not enough candidates

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