Canadian PM Trudeau makes final push before Monday’s election

The Liberal leader is locked in a tight race with Conservatives leader Erin O’Toole

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hopes a final day of traipsing across Canada will help him to sway voters before Monday’s election.

The Liberal leader started the day in his home city of Montreal, where he urged voters to allow him to finish leading Canada through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Trudeau called the election in August hoping to capitalise on his performance throughout the pandemic and his ability to have Canadians vaccinated.

But despite starting strongly, he stumbled out of the gates, with many Canadians frustrated with his decision to call the election when the threat of a fourth wave of infections loomed.

Mr Trudeau's liberals have been in a virtual dead heat with the Conservative Party throughout the 36-day campaign.

“Where we're standing right now, where all bets are off, the only thing I would say is we'll likely still have a minority government, but the colour of it is anyone's guess,” said Stephanie Chouinard, an associate professor at the Royal Military College and Queen’s University.

Mr Trudeau, who took power in 2015 with a majority government, was re-elected in 2019 with a much reduced minority, winning 155 seats compared to the Conservatives' 119. It takes 170 seats for a majority government.

That appears to be unlikely for either party, but Mr Trudeau and Conservatives leader Erin O’Toole are still vying for votes in key battleground ridings.

Both leaders spent time on Sunday in the suburbs of Toronto. The area, which is known as the 905 after its area code, is considered vital to both parties' successes.

Mr Trudeau, whose Liberals performed well in the 905 in 2019, spent time in the riding of King-Vaughan, just north of Toronto, trying to shore up support for his candidate, Deb Schulte.

At a backyard barbecue, he attacked Mr O’Toole for his inability to convince all Conservative candidates to be vaccinated, and promoted his leadership throughout the pandemic.

“Canada is today at a crossroads at a moment where we have to make a really important choice, not just about what we’re going to do in the coming months to end this pandemic for good, but also how we’re going to stay true to our values and meet the challenges of the future with the same level of ambition and devotion to each other that we showed as Canadians every day through the past 18 months,” Mr Trudeau said.

His message and handling of the pandemic were well received in neighbouring Brampton, where residents gathered to enjoy a late summer day in Chinguacousy Park.

“He gave us confidence and a feeling that things are gonna be OK going through this pandemic,” one woman told The National.

Mr O’Toole, who represents the riding of Durham, which is considered part of the 905, has dragged his party to the centre on social issues and climate change, hoping to erode the Liberals' support.

At the midpoint of the campaign he appeared poised to overtake Mr Trudeau, but his numbers have lagged behind slightly in the waning days of the election, making Monday anyone’s guess.

Updated: September 19th 2021, 10:10 PM
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