Canadian leaders square off on final day of campaigning

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Ottawa, Oct 21 (IANS) Contenders for Monday’s Canadian general elections, including incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who is seeking a second term, have staged their final, frantic barrage of sales pitches before voters went to the polls to elect a new leader.

On Sunday, Trudeau was campaigning in the country’s West Coast, where he called on voters to unite behind the ruling Liberals, particularly in his home province of Quebec, reports CBC News.

“Canadians need to come together,” Trudeau added.

Andrew Scheer, the candidate of the main opposition Conservatives and Trudeau’s main rival, kicked off his day in Stanley Park, Vancouver touting what he called his party’s “positive” campaign, before visiting a number of local ridings, culminating in a rally at a hotel near the city airport.

Addressing the public on Sunday, leader of the New Democratic Party (NPD) Jagmeet Singh, who is also the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit as a provincial legislator in Ontario, said that any divisions in the country were a result of economic insecurity, exacerbated by the policies of successive Conservative and Liberal governments.

“All these worries and fears create division, or worries and fears allow others to come in and to divide us based on things that are not the reason for the problems,” he said.

“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.”

A practicing Sikh, Singh is known for donning colourful turbans. His campaign’s main focus is climate action and a government-funded drug programme for all.

Meanwhile, Green Leader Elizabeth May, who was also focusing on her home territory of British Columbia, made a plea to voters with a pledge to reform the voting system – something the Liberals promised in 2015, but ditched after a series of parliamentary and political missteps, CBC News reported.

Monday’s polls which will take place for 338 ridings or seats are the 43rd Canadian general elections to elect members of the House of Commons.

The Liberals under Trudeau are trying to retain the majority (184 seats) they won in the 2015 polls.

But last month Trudeau came under fire where he had to apologize for not just for wearing blackface during a school event nearly two decades ago, but admitting that he had no idea how many times he had chosen to do so.

Two other important contenders in the fray are Yves-Francois Blanchet from the Bloc Quebecois party, who on Sunday called Trudeau a liar for saying that his party’s utmost priority was to separate the country, and the People’s Party of Canada’s candidate Maxime Barnier.

The results are expected by Monday night.

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