Justin Trudeau appeared alongside the former leader of British Columbia’s Green Party on Tuesday to make a final attempt at appealing to progressive voters, arguing that the Liberals are the only party that can stop the Conservatives as election day draws near.
Meanwhile, Erin O’Toole sent a letter to Quebec Premier François Legault in an effort to ease concerns about the Conservative Party’s child care plan, as the Tory Leader looks to court Quebec voters.
With six days to go before the Sept. 20 vote, the two front-runners are trying to solidify support. For the Liberals, that means convincing progressives that voting for the NDP or the Greens will split the vote, handing victory to the Conservatives – an argument the Grits have deployed multiple times in the past.
And the Conservatives are hoping to make gains in seat-rich Quebec, while dampening enthusiasm for Mr. Trudeau by criticizing him for calling the election during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a campaign stop in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau appeared alongside former B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver. Mr. Weaver praised the Liberals’ costed climate plan, which includes increased carbon pricing and an emphasis on zero-emission vehicles. “This is a plan I’ve been dreaming of most of my life,” Mr. Weaver said.
Mr. Trudeau said it was “moving” that Mr. Weaver had stepped forward to encourage further action on climate change. At the same time, the Liberal Leader criticized the federal New Democrats for advancing a climate plan that he argued falls short.
Mr. Trudeau made a direct appeal to progressive voters, urging them to support his party.
“Despite what Jagmeet Singh and the NDP say, it does make a difference whether or not there’s a Conservative or a Liberal government,” Mr. Trudeau said.
“We are the ones that can stop the Conservatives from getting elected and taking us back on climate.”
To combat the Liberal strategy of saying that a vote for the NDP is a vote for the Conservatives, the New Democrats are rolling out a new online advertising campaign this week.
“It happens every election,” Mr. Singh says in the ad. “Justin Trudeau says he’ll stop the Conservatives, but when he wins he stops working for you.”
Mélanie Richer, Mr. Singh’s press secretary, said the party hopes to reach people who might only be considering voting Liberal because they think doing so will stop the Tories, and instead convince them to vote their consciences.
“One thing that is kind of working in our favour this year is that Erin O’Toole is not Andrew Scheer,” she said, referring to the previous Tory leader. This election is also different, she said, because Mr. Trudeau has already won two terms. “They gave him a chance in 2015, then gave him another chance in 2019 … we’re out of chances,” she said.
Mr. Singh has used this argument on the campaign trail, reminding voters who may have previously voted Liberal that they have other options.
Mr. O’Toole’s campaign stopped on Tuesday in the township of Russell, Ont., southeast of Ottawa, to promote his party’s child care plan.
The Conservative proposal focuses on tax credits for families, not $10-a-day child care, as the Liberals have proposed. The issue is particularly volatile in Quebec, which had already signed a $6-billion agreement on child care with Mr. Trudeau’s government before the election.
Mr. Legault held a news conference last week in which he praised several elements of the Conservative platform. But he also expressed concern that the Conservatives were not committed to honouring child care agreements between the federal government and the provinces.
Mr. O’Toole wrote a letter to Mr. Legault this week in which he opens the door to offering the province more money for child care than what the Conservative Party has outlined in its platform.
“Within the first 100 days of a Conservative government, I will sit down with you to conclude an agreement that will allow Quebec and Ottawa to attain their respective objectives. This will respect Quebec priorities related to child care, as well as federal obligations to the other provinces in this area,” Mr. O’Toole wrote to the Premier in French on Monday.
Mr. O’Toole’s letter notes that his party’s platform includes $9.7-billion for “fiscal stabilization and provincial agreements,” suggesting that amount is being set aside for additional arrangements with the provinces.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Legault’s spokesperson Ewan Sauves said, no matter which party wins the election, “the federal government must keep its signature and its word.”
Asked by a reporter if other provinces will be offered the option to use money intended for the child care tax credit in different ways, Mr. O’Toole said he has promised a “federalism based on partnership.”
“I will work closely with all provinces on federal transfers for everything from health, to education, to the well being of our country.”
Speaking in French on Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau directed his pitch to yet another group of progressives: left-leaning voters who are preparing to support the Bloc Québécois. He said the Liberal Party is more in line with progressive views on issues like culture, climate change and firearms policy than the Bloc.
“The Bloc can’t stop a Conservative government,” he said. “We need progressive Quebeckers to choose a progressive government, full of Quebeckers, ready to fight for their priorities day in and day out.”
When asked about Mr. O’Toole’s letter to Mr. Legault, Mr. Trudeau said the Conservative Leader is trying to rewrite his own platform. “For weeks and months, he said he would cancel our agreements on child care and would not create any spaces,” Mr. Trudeau said.
Nik Nanos, the founder and chief data scientist of Nanos Research, said Mr. Trudeau’s strategy of playing the “fear card” with progressive voters is part of the standard Liberal playbook that worked in both 2015 and 2019. He said it is too early to tell whether New Democrats will “hold their nose and vote Liberal” on Sept. 20.
“Voters stay loyal to the end, but, faced with an outcome they do not like, vote strategically. The wildcard in this election is that O’Toole has had a solid performance, is pro-choice, and has presented a platform not with cuts to government, but with about as much new spending as the Liberals,” Mr. Nanos said. “He may not be as much of an ideologically problematic leader compared to previous leaders of the Conservative Party.”
Mr. Trudeau was also asked Tuesday about his response to a protester the day before, in Burnaby, B.C.
The protester swore at Mr. Trudeau and made a derogatory remark about his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. In response, the Liberal Leader sarcastically asked: “Isn’t there a hospital you should be going to bother right now?”
“I am able to take all sorts of different abuse, especially if it means that someone is not somewhere else hassling front-line health care workers or vulnerable Canadians,” Mr. Trudeau said. “But he went after my family. He said hateful, misogynistic things about my wife.”
With reports from Menaka Raman-Wilms in Kitchener, Ont., and Bill Curry in Ottawa
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