Toronto Star

O’Toole turns up heat on Trudeau

Party leaders go on the offensive for what’s likely to be intense final week of campaign


OTTAWA—Conservati­ve Leader Erin O’Toole launched an aggressive and lengthy broadside against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on Monday as the two set the stage for what’s likely to be a provocativ­e final week on the campaign trail.

With some polls showing Conservati­ve support slipping, O’Toole seized upon the anger his campaign is reporting hearing at voters’ doors, and set aside his tight and upbeat daily pledges in favour of a harsh attack, framing the election as a referendum on Trudeau the man and Trudeau the prime minister. “I’d say he’s all talk and no action,” O’Toole said during a campaign event outside Ottawa.

“But this is worse — a person so blinded by his own ambition that he can’t see the rot in his own party. A man who is not a feminist, not an environmen­talist, not a public servant. A man who’s focused solely and squarely on himself.”

Trudeau is “privileged, entitled and always looking out for number one,” which is what he was doing when he called an election that’s nothing more than a power grab, O’Toole said.

The Liberals have been attacking O’Toole since the start of the campaign, a move O’Toole said Monday was unnecessar­ily divisive at a time when the discussion ought to be about a path forward for the country.

O’Toole appeared to see no contradict­ion when asked by reporters how he could claim to be running a positive campaign focused on the issues while at the same time castigatin­g Trudeau.

For his part, Trudeau said his own attacks aren’t directed at O’Toole personally, but at the choices he’s offering Canadians.

The gun lobby, those who want to restrict abortion and those who opposed mandatory vaccinatio­ns all have O’Toole’s ear in a way that should make Canadians fearful of what a Conservati­ve government could look like, Trudeau said.

“I’m going to let him and his proxies in the anti-vaxxer movement, in the gun lobby, in the anti-choice crowd continue to attack me. Fine,” Trudeau said during a campaign stop in Vancouver.

“I’m going to continue to stay focused on Canadians, on what Canadians are telling me about what they need for their families, what they need for the fight against climate change, what they need to end this pandemic once and for all.”

Trudeau noted that the Conservati­ves won’t embrace the very thing that would stop COVID-19’s fourth wave — mandatory vaccinatio­n — rendering meaningles­s their ideas for post-pandemic recovery.

As protests against mandatory vaccinatio­ns continued outside hospitals on Monday, Trudeau promised a Liberal government would make it a criminal offence to obstruct access to any building providing health services, or to threaten or intimidate health-care workers on their way into work.

O’Toole also condemned the protests, and his campaign told the Star a Conservati­ve government would move to find a way to criminaliz­e them using a pledge already in the platform that would make it an offence to interfere with critical infrastruc­ture.

The NDP promised last week that it would make it a crime to block someone from accessing health care, and to make assault on health-care workers an aggravatin­g circumstan­ce in sentencing.

Ahead of a campaign stop in Neskantaga First Nation — home to the longest-standing boil water advisory in Canada — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said voters must understand that all of Trudeau’s broken promises over the last six years have a cost.

He cited failures such as ending boil water advisories and high cellphone bills as examples.

But there’s also a high price, he said.

“There’s also a price of cynicism. When government­s promise things and don’t deliver, it cracks a bit of people’s hope, in terms of their belief that things can get better,” he said.

“I want to bring that hope back.”

Just as children bounced behind O’Toole during his speech Monday — the policy pitch he opted not to hype was related to parental leave — national polls have been bouncing around for days.

As of Monday, the Signal, Vox Pop Labs’ election forecast for the Star, is showing the Tories and Liberals all but deadlocked in national support, while in key electoral regions like B.C., the New Democrats are mounting a formidable challenge.

With the end of advance voting on Monday, the campaigns move into their final phase of identifyin­g and getting out supporters. With the race so tight, locking down that support means finding a way to cut through the noise.

The parties will increase advertisin­g online and in traditiona­l media, and the campaigns themselves are expected to pick up steam as the leaders move both to hold tight ridings and pick up new ones.

The Conservati­ves rolled out a series of new ads Monday that encourage Canadians to punish Trudeau for calling an election during a pandemic, while the Liberals unveiled one focusing on O’Toole’s firearms policy and his long-standing promises to gun owners that he would loosen restrictio­ns on certain firearms.

Also Monday, Green party Leader Annamie Paul made a foray outside the riding she’s hoping to win personally in Toronto for a swing through the Atlantic provinces. There are strong Green movements in the region and her party elected an MP from Fredericto­n in 2019.

That MP is now running for the Liberals.

Another MP who left his fold — former Conservati­ve cabinet minister Maxime Bernier — is also ramping up his campaign efforts.

His People’s Party of Canada’s right-wing approach has been embraced by those opposed to mandatory vaccinatio­ns, and the Signal suggests it is within striking distance of winning at least one seat.

 ?? THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTOS ?? Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau promises “big changes” are on the way.
THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTOS Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau promises “big changes” are on the way.
 ??  ?? Trudeau is “all talk and no action,” Conservati­ve Leader Erin O’Toole says.
Trudeau is “all talk and no action,” Conservati­ve Leader Erin O’Toole says.
 ?? JONATHAN HAYWARD THE CANADIAN PRESS ?? NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh shares a laugh with his wife, Gurkiran Kaur, on Monday in Sioux Lookout, Ont.
JONATHAN HAYWARD THE CANADIAN PRESS NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh shares a laugh with his wife, Gurkiran Kaur, on Monday in Sioux Lookout, Ont.

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