With only two days left before Canadians head to the polls, party leaders focused on issues ranging from trust and security to personal freedoms and health care.
During a campaign stop in Aurora, Ont., on Sept. 18, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was asked why Canadians should trust him given he had previously promised not to call an election during the pandemic.
Trudeau didn’t answer directly, but stressed that Canadians should focus on who to trust to get through the pandemic, given “almost 80 percent of eligible Canadians have been vaccinated” thanks to the Liberals and “everyone across this country wants to see this pandemic end.”
He also used the question to attack Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole, accusing him of being “untrustworthy” in matters relating to “assault weapons,” women’s right to choose, and telling his candidates to “hide” their vaccination status.
When the reporter said her question wasn’t about O’Toole, but him, and why Canadians should trust him since “there are instances where you have not kept your word,” Trudeau replied that any leader should be able to fall back on the “core values that Canadians can trust.”
Trudeau was also asked whether he would consider getting rid of the first-past-the-post voting system if elected, and how the rise of the People’s Party of Canada would factor into his decision.
“I have always been a fan of ranked ballots where people get to choose first choice, second choice, third choice,” he said. “I am not a fan of proportional representation because it gives more weight to smaller parties that are perhaps fringe parties, as we’ve seen right now.”
He added that it would be interesting to follow up but that is not his priority right now.
In a campaign stop in Dundas, Ont., on Sept 18, O’Toole urged Canadians to vote for his party to “secure their future.”
“Too many Canadians are scared. Prices are out of control. Spending is out of control. Secure jobs are harder to come by,” he said.
“When they look to the future, they’re not filled with hope. When they look to the future, they don’t see an affordable home, they don’t see a pension, they don’t see security—they see only endless struggle.”
When pressed by a reporter to explain why he made vaccination a matter of personal health choice “given the fear that’s out there,” O’Toole said his approach is to encourage as many Canadians as possible to get vaccinated.
“We’re not going to be doing that by wedging people like Mr. Trudeau, always dividing people, using even a health crisis for his own benefit,” he said.
He added that he would never have partnered with China, which the Trudeau government did in their effort to strike a vaccine deal with Chinese company CanSino that fell through.
Retired Vice-Admiral Mark Norman endorsed O’Toole and the Conservatives on Sept. 18, saying in a video posted on Twitter that Canada needs “a leader of substance” with a “solid plan in the best long-term interest of this country.”
“I believe Erin O’Toole is the leader that Canada needs now,” he said.
A failed prosecution of Norman on breach-of-trust charges by the Liberals resulted in the House of Commons issuing an apology to Norman in May 2019.
Speaking in Saskatoon on Sept. 18, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pledged to hire more health care-workers if elected.
He said health-care workers are burned out due to understaffing as a result of cuts in health-care transfers from the federal government to the provinces over the years, with the situation exacerbated by the pandemic.
“We’re going to fight to make sure you get the funds, the resources, the work conditions, and the staffing levels necessary to do the care that delivers, the care that you know, you can, and want to deliver,” he said.
While campaigning in Strathmore, Alberta, on Sept. 17, PPC Leader Maxime Bernier pledged that if elected, he would adopt “common-sense policies.”
“Common sense will be with us. Common sense is with us because we believe in you. We don’t believe in a big fat government that will tell you what to do with your life, that you must have a vaccine passport,” Bernier told the crowd.
He urged those present to vote for his party so that “we will have a freedom voice, a common-sense voice in Parliament.”
He promised to balance the federal budget in four years, defund the CBC, and protect the Canadian sovereignty by cutting foreign aid to the United Nations.
“When tyranny becomes law, revolution becomes our duty,” he said.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul travelled to B.C. on Sept. 18 to support the party’s candidates in the final few days of the election.