VOTE 2019:

Fran­tic fi­nal push for votes marks fi­nal day of di­vi­sive cam­paign

The Peterborough Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - JOR­DAN PRESS

OT­TAWA — The con­tenders in Mon­day’s fed­eral elec­tion spent the last day of the cam­paign launch­ing one fi­nal, fran­tic bar­rage of sales pitches.

Party lead­ers on Sun­day can­vassed in and around Van­cou­ver, where a host of seats are up for grabs.

It was the cli­max of weeks of claims and coun­ter­claims and ac­cu­sa­tions of dirty pol­i­tick­ing and out­right ly­ing.

Lib­eral Leader Justin Trudeau called on vot­ers to swing be­hind the Lib­er­als, warn­ing of cuts to ser­vices if the Con­ser­va­tives take power.

Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer warned of fed­eral spend­ing that leads to crip­pling na­tional debt if the Lib­er­als win a mi­nor­ity and are propped up by the New Democrats.

Jag­meet Singh called on vot­ers to give his NDP a chance.

And Green Leader El­iz­a­beth May made a prom­ise of elec­toral re­form along­side a vow to man­date hon­esty from par­ties dur­ing fu­ture cam­paigns.

“I didn’t think that this elec­tion would be so marred by dis­hon­esty,” May said.

“Now all the me­dia is cov­er­ing this now, that this was a dirty elec­tion and that peo­ple lied — the Con­ser­va­tives lied about the Lib­er­als, the Lib­er­als lied about the Con­ser­va­tives, the NDP con­tinue to lie about the Greens.

“It’s one of the hard­est things I’ve ever had to en­dure.”

Polls head­ing into Mon­day’s vote sug­gest a deeply di­vided elec­torate as Cana­di­ans look back on a cam­paign marked by:

Reve­la­tions that Trudeau re­peat­edly wore black­face more than a decade ago.

Ques­tions about Scheer’s dual cit­i­zen­ship with the United States and iffy cre­den­tials as an in­sur­ance bro­ker.

Un­ease about the fed­eral role in a le­gal chal­lenge to Que­bec’s sec­u­lar­ism law, known as Bill 21, that is pop­u­lar in the prov­ince but highly con­tro­ver­sial.

While four lead­ers were on the West Coast, Scheer and Trudeau ap­pealed, too, to vo­terich Que­bec in the hopes of stanch­ing any bleed­ing of sup­port to the Bloc Québé­cois, whose surge in re­cent polls has been one of the key sur­prises of the cam­paign.

On Satur­day night, party leader Yves-François Blanchet ral­lied sup­port­ers by talk­ing about the en­vi­ron­ment, but also talk­ing about his party’s re­vival with a ref­er­ence to sovereignt­y as a pos­si­bil­ity one day.

Trudeau warned Blanchet’s “No. 1 pri­or­ity is sep­a­ra­tion” — not fight­ing cli­mate change or “even to stop Con­ser­va­tive cuts” — and re­turn­ing the coun­tries to de­bates thought dor­mant.

Not long af­ter, Scheer said Blanchet’s “pri­or­ity is to work to­ward an­other ref­er­en­dum,” in mak­ing the case for Que­be­cers to vote Con­ser­va­tive.

Blanchet, in Que­bec, said sep­a­ra­tion is not a pri­or­ity for his party now, nor is a ref­er­en­dum on the mat­ter im­mi­nent.

He said Trudeau was “pur­pose­fully ly­ing” to Que­be­cers — com­ments he made be­fore Scheer spoke in Van­cou­ver’s Stan­ley Park.

“We thought that Mr. Trudeau was of­fer­ing a clean cam­paign. This is over now. Now he is ly­ing,” Blanchet told re­porters.

“If he lis­tened to what I said yes­ter­day, he ob­vi­ously no­ticed that I said even if I do per­son­ally be­lieve — and that’s a sur­prise for no­body — that one day, at a time of their choice and in a man­ner of their own choos­ing, Que­be­cers might con­sider again giv­ing them­selves a coun­try.

“In the mean­time, I un­der­stand that this is not our man­date.”

May was also heav­ily crit­i­cal of what she called “dirty smears” from other par­ties af­ter a heated war of words with NDP Leader Singh over abor­tion.

She said she be­lieved she had a good re­la­tion­ship with Singh — May de­cided not to run a Green can­di­date in a by­elec­tion that gave the NDP leader a seat in the House of Com­mons ear­lier this year — but that now ap­pears to be in tat­ters.

Singh, be­fore main­street­ing in Van­cou­ver and Sur­rey, B.C., said he had no re­grets about the cam­paign.

Any di­vi­sions in the coun­try are a re­sult of eco­nomic in­se­cu­rity, ex­ac­er­bated by the poli­cies of suc­ces­sive Con­ser­va­tive and Lib­eral gov­ern­ments, Singh said.

The NDP leader sug­gested his party’s prom­ises would bridge any di­vides.

“I be­lieve we can build a uni­fied coun­try if peo­ple see jus­tice in their lives, if they see af­ford­abil­ity in their lives, if they see child care and a health-care sys­tem and hous­ing that is af­ford­able that is there for them.”

Mean­while, Peo­ple’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier wrapped up his cam­paign in his Que­bec rid­ing of Beauce, de­fend­ing his own seat.

He is to vote mid-morn­ing in his rid­ing — just as mil­lions of Cana­di­ans will do Mon­day.


Lib­eral Leader Justin Trudeau makes a cam­paign stop in West Van­cou­ver, B.C., on Sun­day.

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