Canada’s Trudeau, main rival exchange attacks as campaign grinds to an end 0

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, facing the loss of his Parliamentary majority in an election next week, traded attacks with his main rival on Saturday as a bad-tempered campaign entered the last few days.

Trudeau came to power in 2015 promising “sunny ways” and a new way of doing politics but saw his popularity drop earlier this year amid an ethics scandal. Images of him in blackface emerged last month, further hurting his Liberal Party ahead of the Oct. 21 election.

The 47-year-old prime minister, his voice increasingly hoarse, said Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer would slash spending and rip up Liberal plans to fight climate change.

Polls show the Liberals and the Conservatives in a dead heat, with neither able to capture a majority of the 338 seats in the House of Commons. This would leave the winner in a vulnerable position, seeking to govern with smaller parties.

“I am very excited and confident about the choice Canadians are making,” Trudeau answered when asked if he was worried about losing. “And the question they’re facing is with that vote do we stop conservative cuts? Do we invest in our families and in our future and make life more affordable for them?” Trudeau said after a rally in a fire station in the Ontario city of Hamilton, to the west of Toronto.

In the absence of an overriding narrative, dirty tactics and awkward moments have characterized the campaign.

A Nanos Research poll for the Globe and Mail and CTV released on Saturday put the Liberals at 32.6% public support and the main official Conservatives at 30.3%. The left-leaning New Democrats, who compete for the same voters as the Liberals, were at 18.4%.

Trudeau sidestepped questions about his plans if he did not win a majority. Minority governments in Canada rarely last more than two and a half years.

Scheer, speaking at a campaign event on Saturday, said Trudeau would spend his first 100 days negotiating a coalition with the New Democrats that would impose tax hikes.

“It’s quite clear that under Justin Trudeau region has been pit against region. Justin Trudeau has divided Canadians. He’s divided provinces. He’s failed to stand up for the types of big ideas, the big projects that can bring this country together,” he said during a pit stop in North York, Ontario.

Trudeau and Scheer made multiple trips to Ontario, which accounts for 108 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons. The Liberals hold 76 of those seats.

Trudeau was scheduled to make four stops in Ontario before flying later on Saturday to the western provinces of Manitoba and Alberta, where anger against the Liberals is rising over government environmental measures that critics complain will hobble the energy industry.

(Source: Reuters)