Leaders scramble to cover ground in final days of campaigning

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KITCHNER – Monday’s election may not be a battle of hearts and minds as Liberal and Conservative Party leaders flocked around southwestern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area over the weekend to make last-ditch appeals for support.

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The star’s poll tracker, Vox Pop Labs, said Liberals and Conservatives are now tied at 31.9 percent of popular support, but give a broader lead in seats to the Liberals, who take 155 — the exact same number they had. The election was called – for the Conservatives’ projected seat of 122. The NDP could increase its seat tally to 35 and the Greens could get 2. The BQ would become the fourth party with 23 seats, and the People’s Party could take one.

As the race gets down to the wire, the attacks intensified.

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Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said it was “un-Canadian” for Liberal leader Justin Trudeau to call the election amid a public health crisis, and vowed he would “never call an election in a health crisis.” He went on to say that if the next government is a Liberal minority he would not trigger one in less than four years.

The Conservative leader’s visit stopped at candidate offices in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area, where he hammered out his five-week message about the “unnecessary” pandemic election, calling it a scathing attack on Trudeau’s “arrogance” and an election o did. The tool simply said “Vanity Project”.

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As polls suggested the Conservative campaign is headed for Monday’s federal vote, the Conservative leader’s visit appears to be on auto-pilot. There were no immediate efforts in public places such as St. Jacob’s farmers’ market, the largest in Canada. O’Toole said he “ran by it” on Saturday morning, but was focused on pumping up his troops, many of whom came under the limelight that the race could turn away from him after the election, the first suggestion. Given that a conservative minority was within reach.

Although O’Toole hardly deviated from his message, now proceeds with a more personal critique of Trudeau.

“This pandemic election is pointless, risky and selfish. In fact, it is non-Canadian,” O’Toole said in prepared remarks at an expedition stop in southern Ontario riding the Flamborough-Glanbrook.

“Yet, despite how it’s called, there’s a lot at stake in this election… In this environment, it’s understandable that people are looking for alternatives, shaking things up, this To show that they are tired of all this.”

“Make no mistake, voting for other parties that can’t win, no matter how sad or angry you are, won’t kick Trudeau out.”

That point – that voters are angry and looking for alternatives – was a more or less clear appeal to voters who have left the Conservative fold and parked their vote with Maxim Bernier’s rebel People’s Party of Canada.

Purple PPC markings dot the grass in public places throughout this area. A Conservative supporter said Friday night at a rally for O’Toole in St. Catharines he was surprised to see the reach of Bernier’s party and the anger of voters at the door.

But on O’Toole’s campaign, his senior staff insist that the mood is good, and he is confident he can get his vote out.

They have to.

According to The Signal, Vox Pop Labs’ poll tracker for Star, PPC is pulling 6.5 percent nationwide. Senior sources in the O’Toole campaign are adamant that it is not just conservative voters who are coming to Bernier’s movement – ​​but it is clear that there are many of them.

PPC support may not be enough to win the Bernier seat. But it may be enough to deny Conservative seats in tight riding competitions.

After the occasional vitriolic campaign, O’Toole acknowledged that a significant number of voters were angry, and called that anger “justified.”

“But there’s only one way to send a message to Justin Trudeau, and there’s only one way. There’s only one way to show him the door, and that’s to vote for Conservatives on Monday,” O’Toole said.

Trudeau lashed out at the GTA on Saturday to inspire party workers and supporters and made a point of going in a Conservative-organized ride where Leona Ellesev – a lifelong Liberal MP who is crossing the floor – walks. has been

The Liberals are bent on reclaiming this seat, and have used money and campaign resources to do so.

Trudeau stayed at the headquarters of Liberal candidate Leah Taylor Roy – his third event in 24 hours where he attended. There, about 100 volunteers crowded the backyard to listen to the Liberal leader and pose for photographs. Across the street were four small purple and white PPC signs and three large “re-elected” Leona Ellesev.

One man showed up to protest, shouting: “This country is going to do shit because of you Justin Trudeau… you’re going down on Monday.”

Trudeau then went to the Newmarket Farmers Market to greet generous supporters and eager spectators.

An old man named Richard, who declined to give his last name, stood at the edge of a large circle, holding conservative signs in his hand and trying to get into the media’s shot.

“This time more than anything else, it’s someone other than Justin,” Richard told Granthshala. “Scam, expense, arrogance, come on.”

For the final three days of the campaign, O’Toole left the country on criss-crossing in his campaign aircraft, instead choosing to bus around the Golden Horseshoe and GTA, before traveling to Durham and the results on Monday. came back to see. .

Trudeau and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, however, will be out west for one last sprint. Trudeau returns to Montreal on Election Day and Singh will land in British Columbia where he is running.

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter who covers federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @tondamacc
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