trudeau was the target
Leaders’ debate featured cross-talk, after-the-bell jabs
OTTAWA — As Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer battled in Monday night’s leaders’ debate over who has the better climate-change policy, the NDP’S Jagmeet Singh told viewers they don’t have to choose between “Mr. Delay and Mr. Deny.”
Elizabeth May, whose Green party is fighting with the NDP for third place, framed the choice differently.
“At this point, Mr. Scheer, with all due respect, you’re not going to be prime minister,” she said bluntly at one point. She predicted that Trudeau’s Liberals will win at least a minority government so “voting for Green MPS is your very best guarantee, Canada, that you don’t get the government you least want.”
Regardless of the question, Singh took every opportunity to repeat his favourite theme: that Liberals and Conservatives alike pander to wealthy corporations whereas the NDP will fight for ordinary Canadians with investments in child care, pharmacare and dental care.
In a debate that very often featured cross-talk from leaders who wouldn’t give each other an inch, and after-the-bell jabs right before a tumbling roster of moderators moved on to new topics, Singh cracked the most jokes.
More than once, someone called him “Mr. Scheer” by mistake; after the second time, Singh said he’d even worn a bright orange turban so they’d be easy to tell apart.
But in the main, like the other leaders, Singh was deadly serious about his targets.
“Mr. Trudeau does not have the courage to take on the insurance and the pharmaceutical lobbyists who don’t want this to happen,” Singh said. “You vote New Democrats, we’re going to make sure we’re going to make these things happen because we don’t work for the powerful and wealthy ... We work for you.”
May prayed publicly that Trudeau would not be re-elected, with a plan to fight climate change that in her view doesn’t move quickly enough.
His government has done more on climate change than any Canadian government ever has, Trudeau shot back, and has made major policy changes, such as introducing a new child benefit, that have lifted thousands of families out of poverty.
Scheer called Trudeau a phoney and a fraud.
“Justin Trudeau only pretends to stand up for Canada,” Scheer said. “You know, he’s very good at pretending things. He can’t even remember how many times he put blackface on because the fact of the matter is he’s always wearing a mask.”
Scheer accused Trudeau of wearing masks on Indigenous reconciliation, feminism and on his concern for middle-class Canadians.
“Mr. Trudeau, you’re a phoney and you’re a fraud and you do not deserve to govern this country.”
The format of the debate gave Trudeau no immediate opportunity to respond to Scheer’s attack, but he repeatedly went after Scheer at other times for his personal anti-abortion views and for promoting tax cuts for the rich.
Scheer rounded on Trudeau again later, raising the Snc-lavalin affair. He accused Trudeau of breaking ethics law, shutting down parliamentary inquiries and firing two senior female cabinet ministers who objected to his trying to pressure his former attorney general to halt a criminal prosecution of the Montreal engineering giant.
“Tell me, when did you decide that the rules don’t apply to you?” he said.
“Mr. Scheer, the role of a prime minister is stand up for Canadians’ jobs, to stand up for the public interest and that’s what I’ve done,” Trudeau responded.
Party leaders stand for the obligatory smiley photo before the debate last night in Gatineau, Que.