Leaders clash over character and credibility in French-language election debate

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OTTAWA—Political promises were on the menu, but hot dishes on character and credibility were the dishes served at the French-language debate held at Gatineau on Wednesday night.

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There was no clear winner, but what emerged was a five-way battle between a more belligerent liberal leader Justin Trudeau and a more confident conservative leader Erin O’Toole, as the polls show a tight two-way race at the national level. and Quebecois in a weak block Quebec.

The five federal political leaders met face-to-face for the campaign’s second debate, only this time with Green Leader Annie Paul on stage. They avoided questions from journalists and voters and clashed over who could be trusted to lead the country.

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Pandemic response, health care, climate change, child care and public finance were flashpoints hours after the Conservative Party finally released its platform cost, which reduced the liberals in dollar-for-dollar new spending and Trudeau’s on the next. Approximately matched the estimated losses. five years.

For three weeks, Trudeau was challenged to justify his Snap election call and faced angry anti-Vaxer protests. But on Wednesday, Trudeau went on the offensive against O’Toole, portraying him as someone who won’t make a tough decision on mandatory vaccinations to get Canada out of the pandemic, and who “needs vaccines with rapid trials.” equals.” Those decisions need to be made “this fall, not in two or three years”, he said, justifying a mid-term election.

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O’Toole challenged Trudeau in what he said was an unnecessary election, and the Conservative leader suggested that he would not trigger any early elections if the minority Conservative government won. But when asked to confirm his meaning, he said that “we all have to work together.”

The debate began more slowly than it had last week. Trudeau, who stood directly beside O’Toole on stage at the Museum of Canadian History after the party’s straws, accused the Conservative leader of failing to “stand up” for Canada’s universal public health care system, here Even O’Toole insists he supports it. .

O’Toole did not respond directly when moderator Patrice Roy twice pressured him on how much health care he would allow privately and whether people with more money should be able to pay for quicker access to medical services. . O’Toole responded that he would “respect” the provinces, prompting Trudeau to respond that it is the federal government’s job to protect the Canada Health Act.

The format of questions and answers kept the leaders from facing each other directly for important parts of the programme. However, once the moderator allowed an “open debate”, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh projected Trudeau as “selfish” for seeking a new mandate and trying to convert his minority into a majority.

On child care, Trudeau took a run at O’Toole, which would replace the Liberal’s nascent $30-billion child care program with a tax credit that would cover up to $6,000 in child care expenses. Trudeau said the Conservative tax credit would not help low-income families in Quebec who do not already pay child care fees covered by the province. Trudeau said O’Toole’s pledge to kill Quebec’s $6 billion portion of the national plan would eliminate the spaces that families have needed for years, adding that O’Toole would “destroy the whole thing” ”

Singh, who needed to appeal to progressive voters, accused Trudeau at the outset, and repeatedly intervened with attacks on both O’Toole and Trudeau, saying they were “similar”. He accused the Liberal government of allowing the wealthy to “exploit the system” and argued that only the NDP would pay the wealthy their “fair share”, with his party levied on corporations, higher taxes on the wealthy, and tax havens. A promise to take action.

During a debate on climate change, Singh accused Trudeau of failing to take effective action to reduce emissions over six years in the government.

“It makes me sad,” said Singh. “I’m not happy to say that, but you have the worst record in the G-7 after six years.”

Trudeau later retorted that climate experts supported the Liberal plan and also “breaks my heart” that Singh is not serious with the NDP’s emissions reduction policies.

At the same time, significant policy differences over climate action surfaced, with liberals proposing a cap on emissions from the fossil fuel industry and Paul, the green leader, vowing to cancel all new pipelines – including the ongoing Trans Mountain pipeline project. is included.

The Liberals have unveiled new pledges to aggressively move to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent from 2005 levels, and Trudeau has followed the conservative plan to go back to the less ambitious target of 30 percent emissions cuts. Jokingly said that the Paris Agreement requires countries. “More ambitious.”

Meanwhile, Paul’s task in the debate was enormous: projecting Canadians as the Green Leader after months of squabbles within his own party, and the entire campaign in Toronto without a public event since Saturday. after spending.

Paul, Joe posted on twitter Before the debate that she wore sneakers made from recovered marine plastic, she said it was an honor to be involved in the debate and denounced the “hyperpartisan” culture in federal politics. She also described how her father died in a long-term care center during the pandemic, and pledged that she would “never forget” those suffering in such institutions during the crisis.

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