Reuters / Montreal
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, crisscrossing the country making a last pitch to voters before today’s election, said yesterday only his Liberals could end the Covid-19 pandemic and accused his main rival of taking the wrong approach.
Opinion polls indicate the political advantage moving to Trudeau, who is stepping up attacks on Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole over the pandemic.
Trudeau favours vaccine mandates opposed by O’Toole, who prefers testing to control the public health crisis.
If Trudeau does win, it would most likely be another minority government, leaving him dependent again upon other parties to govern. Trudeau, 49, took power in 2015.
O’Toole, 48, has been on the defensive since ally Jason Kenney, the conservative premier of Alberta, apologised on Wednesday for relaxing Covid-19 controls too early and mishandling the pandemic.
Cases in the western province have soared. “We do not need a Conservative government that won’t be able to show the leadership on vaccinations and on science that we need to end this,” Trudeau told reporters in Montreal. Trudeau added that Canadians “have a really important choice to make, whether they want Erin O’Toole to continue working with Jason Kenney on not ending this pandemic, or do they want a Liberal government.”
O’Toole has sidestepped questions about his earlier support for Kenney’s approach.
Yesterday offered the last chance to sway voters. Parties are not allowed to campaign on election day.
O’Toole instead focused on parliamentary constituencies near Toronto, Canada’s largest city.
Trudeau called the vote two years early to seek approval for his left-of-centre government’s handling of the pandemic and regain the Parliamentary majority he lost in 2019.
His initial healthy lead in the race vanished amid unhappiness with the early call.
Polls show neither the Liberals nor the right-leaning Conservatives having the 38% public support needed for a majority.
Trudeau’s government racked up record debt to tackle the pandemic.
O’Toole, who has said Trudeau will amass unsustainable levels of debt if re-elected, initially took a lead after hammering the prime minister over what he called an unnecessary power grab during the fourth wave of Covid-19.
Aiming to broaden his appeal, O’Toole has tried to move his party toward the centre, taking more progressive stances on gay rights and climate change than his predecessor.
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