With just a few days left before Canadians go to the polls, party leaders are doubling down on their efforts to promote their platforms and promises and make some last-minute headway.
Campaigning in Windsor, Ont., on Sept. 17, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau sought to appeal to Ontarians by reaffirming his plan to mandate vaccination for travellers, while promising to support vaccine passports in provinces and territories, and support the hiring of extra nurses and nurse practitioners to clear health-care wait lists, among other promises.
Trudeau was asked by a reporter if Canada’s exclusion from AUKUS was because Canada had become “irrelevant,” as suggested by Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. AUKUS is a new defence pact between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, which was announced by the White House on Sept. 15.
“On the contrary, the work that we’ve been doing, as a strong member of the Five Eyes over the past number of years, has demonstrated the value that Canada has put forward in cybersecurity, in a strong member of NATO, in continuing to be a partner in defence of North America and in projection of our values around the world. Canadian soldiers have stepped up in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in North Africa,” Trudeau replied.
When asked if he is being “weak on China,” Trudeau didn’t answer directly but said Canada has been a strong proponent for multilateralism, including pushing for an international agreement on arbitrary detentions.
“That obviously stems from the arbitrary detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, but that concerns all countries around the world that people will use arbitrary detentions of their citizens for personal gain, for political gain.”
Trudeau received the endorsement of former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton on Sept. 17, having been endorsed by former former president Barack Obama the previous day.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole reaffirmed his commitment to support Canadian workers should he be elected on Sept. 20.
In a letter posted on Twitter on Sept. 17, O’Toole vowed to create one million jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. His party will introduce the Canada Job Surge Plan which pays up to 50 percent of the salary of net new hires for six months after the federal wage subsidy program ends.
He stressed he would treat the energy sector as a key driver of the country’s economy, unlike the Liberals “who want to phase out the sector and the jobs of hundreds of thousands of workers across Canada who depend on it.”
He also noted the shortage of skilled labour in the construction sector and pledged to invest $250 million to create a Canada Job Training Fund to give workers low-interest loans of up to $10,000 to upgrade their skills.
In a campaign stop in London, Ont., on Sept. 17, O’Toole said he would work with all premiers when pressed on what he thinks about Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s approach to COVID-19 measures. On Sept. 15, Kenney announced a vaccine passport system for the province after promising not to, in an attempt to prevent rising COVID-19 cases.
“Let me say to Albertans and families even in southwestern Ontario, where we lost a young child, we will stand and fight COVID-19 alongside you. And if there’s anything the provinces need, including a steady supply of vaccines, including leadership on rapid tests, I will be there as prime minister. I would never put my political interests ahead of the health of Canadians,” O’Toole said.
The People’s Party of Canada (PPC) held a rally outside the headquarters of CBC News in downtown Toronto on Sept. 16, calling for an end to the national broadcaster’s “state-funded propaganda.”
In his speech, PPC Leader Maxime Bernier talked about disappearing personal freedoms and the erosion of democracy since the pandemic.
“The mainstream media tries to describe us as anti-mask, anti-vaccine,” Bernier told the crowd.
“You’re just here today because you know that it’s time to speak about what the people want, and the people in here, they’re ready to fight for their life. They’re ready to fight for our democracy, and we want to have the freedom of choice.”
“We’re not anti-vaccine, we’re not anti-mask. Everyone must be able to decide what to do, if they want to have a vaccine or not,” he added.
Bernier condemned vaccine passports and stressed that “we have science on our side.”
“We know that we must learn to live with that virus. We know what to do to fight that virus, but it’s not with lockdowns and with vaccine passports,” he said.
“We don’t want to live in a socialist country, in a country where you have to show your papers to participate in civil society. We don’t want that.”
While campaigning in Sherbrooke, Quebec on Sept. 17, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh criticized the Liberals’ platform on climate change, accusing Trudeau of “protecting big polluters” over the past six years.
Singh said his party will invest in renewable energy and electric transportation and support provinces and municipalities in addressing climate change.
According to the NDP’s fiscal plan, the party will spend $26 billion on climate change policies and training workers “impacted by these changes” to transit from the oil and gas sector.
On the same day, Independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Singh and the NDP.
Speaking in Toronto on Sept. 17, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul stressed the need for political parties to put aside partisanship and work together to “offer real solutions in real time.”
In her brief press conference, Paul spoke about issues confronting the country such as “inadequate and unsafe” housing, drug addiction and poisoning, deaths of seniors in long-term care during the pandemic, and climate change.