Federal party leaders kicked off the Thanksgiving long weekend appealing to Canadians in vote-rich parts of the country, hoping to fire up supporters before launching into the final stretch of the election campaign next week.
An excited crowd grew increasingly impatient at a Liberal rally in Mississauga, Ont. Saturday night, when Mr. Trudeau arrived an hour and a half late with no explanation.
More than 2,000 people showed up to the rally at a convention centre to hear Mr. Trudeau speak alongside more than 30 other Liberal candidates. When Mr. Trudeau finally entered the ballroom around 6:30 p.m., he appeared to be wearing a protective vest under his shirt. He was also accompanied by tactical RCMP officers wearing backpacks stood nearby monitoring the leader’s surroundings as he spoke from the stage. It’s unclear why Mr. Trudeau appeared to have increased security on stage.
Cameron Ahmad, a spokesperson for the Liberals, said the campaign had no comment about the delay.
Mr. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, was also supposed to speak at the rally but didn’t end up attending. Mr. Ahmad declined to comment on the change of plans.
Some attendees said they were frustrated by the delay, waiting more than two hours to see the Mr. Trudeau speak, while others were more understanding.
“He’s the Prime Minister. He’s got a lot on his plate,” said a man named Norman, who came in from Brampton to attend the rally.
High-profile Liberal candidates, including Chrystia Freeland, Navdeep Bains and Omar Alghabra, spoke to the audience in an attempt to keep them engaged as they waited for Mr. Trudeau. When Mr. Bains offered to tell a story to the room, the crowd groaned and shouted for Mr. Trudeau instead.
Mr. Trudeau was greeted with loud cheers when he took the stage, quickly launching into an attack on his main opponents: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.
Mr. Trudeau attacked Mr. Scheer's platform as an echo of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s cuts to government spending. He said the Conservatives' proposed cuts amount to more than double the cost of the Liberal government’s child-care benefit.
“He [Mr. Scheer] looked at what’s happening here in Ontario and decided the biggest problem with Doug Ford’s cuts is that they’re too small,” said Mr. Trudeau.
“He looked at Doug Ford’s cuts and said, ‘Hold my beer.’”
Earlier Saturday, Mr. Scheer announced that as prime minister he would create a commission on the reduction of government subsidy programs to corporations.
Mr. Scheer said a Conservative government would appoint former B.C. minister Kevin Falcon and former VIA rail CEO Yves Desjardin-Siciliano to head the commission, and the pair would be tasked with identifying $1.5 billion dollars worth of cuts to corporations. He made the announcement in Mr. Singh’s riding of Burnaby South, where Mr. Trudeau held a rally Friday night.
“A new Conservative government will then redirect that money to those who actually need it — you and your family,” said Mr. Scheer.
The announcement comes after the Conservatives revealed their platform Friday, promising to balance the budget in five years by reducing spending by more than $53-billion in areas such as infrastructure and government programs.
When asked about his plans to cut billions of dollars’ worth of spending, Mr. Scheer said the Conservative Party has been clear on two issues: “One, we’re going to increase spending to healthcare, education and social programs,” he said, adding “we’re also being clear on where we’re going to find the savings,” he said, citing cuts to corporate welfare, foreign aid and “wasteful spending” in Ottawa.
Mr. Trudeau also took aim at Mr. Singh, who is riding high on the positive attention he received following his debates appearances.
“Remember this: The NDP couldn’t stop [Stephen] Harper. They couldn’t stop Ford. And they can’t stop Scheer,” Mr. Trudeau told the crowd in Mississauga.
"The only way to stop Conservative cuts is to vote Liberal."
Mr. Singh campaigned in Brampton, Ont. Saturday morning, a city he previously represented as a Member of Provincial Parliament before taking over the national party leadership.
Mr. Singh then spent his afternoon in Toronto, where he spoke to an energized crowd gathered at NDP candidate Andrew Cash’s campaign office in Davenport. Mr. Singh said there are nine days left of the campaign and “we feel a ton of momentum growing.”
“We choose the people. We choose a brighter future. We choose the planet. We choose you every one of you and that’s what this campaign is about. It’s about who’s in it for you,” he told the crowd, after taking aim at Mr. Trudeau for breaking his promise on electoral reform.
When asked what his priorities would be in the event that he would be faced with supporting a minority government, Mr. Singh said he has a number of urgent conditions in mind including housing, healthcare and climate justice, but said that electoral reform was not one of them.
“It’s essential, but it’s not urgent,” he said, adding that electoral reform doesn’t have an impact on people’s day-to-day lives.
Mr. Singh left for Burnaby Saturday evening.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was in Prince Edward Island Saturday, where she announced plans to reverse changes to disability pensions for veterans as part of a review of how the government helps former soldiers. She made the announcement just outside Charlottetown, home to headquarters for Veterans Affairs Canada, before travelling to Nova Scotia for more canvassing and a rally.
The latest national numbers from Nanos Research show the Liberals at 33 per cent support among respondents and the Conservatives at 32 per cent – a gap that falls within the margin of error. The NDP is at 18 per cent, followed by the Greens at 9 per cent, the Bloc Québécois at 6 per cent and the People’s Party of Canada at 1 per cent.
The poll was sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CTV, with a total of 1,200 Canadians surveyed from Oct. 9 to Oct. 11. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were asked: “If a federal election were held today, could you please rank your top two current local voting preferences?” A report on the results, questions and methodology for this and all surveys can be found at tgam.ca/election-polls.
With a report from the Canadian Press.