Halifax – Finally, someone said it out loud.
New Brunswick Liberal candidate and Justin Trudeau’s Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Wednesday that his party’s leader has yet to admit: that his party is still hoping to win a majority in next week’s election.
More than four weeks into the campaign, polls show Conservatives and Liberals in a virtual dead heat in many regions across the country, suggesting a minority government is the most likely outcome of the September 20 vote.
But with elections so close, LeBlanc believes it is still possible – with swings in some major rides – for Liberals to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons.
“I have great confidence in our chances of forming a majority government,” LeBlanc told the Star, the first time a senior party official has said so publicly during the campaign.
Asked if that means he doesn’t believe liberals can work with the New Democrats while leading a minority government, LeBlanc evaded. “The good news is we will have all those answers next week,” he said. “We don’t have to guess.”
While Trudeau held off on Wednesday’s attack against conservative leader Erin O’Toole, he also criticized his opponent for progressive-left votes, accusing NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and his party of “what they do.” Likes to say nice things but don’t really have a plan.
Trudeau appealed directly to those who can vote strategically to help him stop conservatives from forming the next government.
“After the year we have gone through, the Canadians deserve a team with not only a vision and ambition, but a solid plan to deliver,” he said. “That’s what we have – especially because we are the ones positioned to stop Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives from taking Canada back.”
Trudeau also criticized Singh for claiming that liberals have done nothing to fulfill any of their promises, citing his government’s record on climate change, housing, child care and reconciliation. “It’s nothing,” he said.
“I think it is cynical of Mr. Singh to continue to pretend that there is no difference between a conservative government and a liberal government. I understand that he is prepared to work with a conservative minority government. Maybe it is. Highlights and underlines the fact that he has no real plan to fight climate change and would be perfectly happy with Mr. O’Toole’s plan, but we are not.
LeBlanc later told reporters that a liberal majority would be a better outcome because “Canadians will focus hard on the things that are important to them: the fight against climate change, issues of affordability.
“I hear about affordability challenges around child care in my constituency all the time, and interestingly, grandparents ask me to provide affordable, accessible child care for their sons or their daughters and their grandchildren. Talking about the challenge.”
LeBlanc also dismissed suggestions that the country was facing growing divisions and a national unity challenge. “This is not what I have seen in the last 14 months,” he said.
He said the Liberal government worked closely with both Quebec Premier François Legault and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney on issues related to the pandemic.