OTTAWA — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and his New Democrat opponent Jagmeet Singh traded sharp criticism Tuesday in their fight for the hearts and minds of “progressive” voters — or those Canadians who aren’t committed to Conservatives.
Both blasted Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as their common opponent, but Singh continued to back away from his weekend comment about forming a coalition government with the Liberals after Scheer called that too expensive a proposition for Canadians.
“I want to be your prime minister. But whatever Canadians vote for come the 21st of October, I want Canadians to win. And, so I’m saying to win, if you vote for New Democrats, we will fight in whatever form the government takes, whatever the power the people give us, to make sure we deliver on the things that people need,” Singh said in Toronto.
“I’m proud of the fact that I’m ready to fight Conservatives no matter what, and however I can. I think Canadians want that. The majority of Canadians don’t vote Conservative. The majority of Canadians want a progressive government.”
Singh reiterated his main attack points on Trudeau: that his four years in power have been marked by a series of broken promises, and that only an NDP government will tax the richest Canadians to make life more affordable for working people.
Polls suggest the Liberals and Conservatives are deadlocked in support with the NDP rising nationally and the Bloc Quebecois on the uptick in Quebec following last week’s two televised leaders’ debates.
Trudeau took aim at Scheer and Singh as he began a day of barnstorming through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, a major portion of the region that Singh has been accused of ignoring, and that the Liberals swept in 2015.
“The choice is very clear: are we going to move forward with a government that invests in people and ensure that everyone has access to a family doctor or are we going to go back to a time when Conservatives simply cut services?” Trudeau posited in Fredericton.
Trudeau said his government protected Canadian workers by successfully renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with an unpredictable, protectionist Trump administration that was threatening to rip up the deal.
“We succeeded in renegotiating the most important trade deal we have, despite the fact that in the House of Commons Andrew Scheer was calling for us to simply capitulate because that’s what Stephen Harper had told him to say,” said Trudeau.
“And Jagmeet Singh and the NDP are not supportive of the protections we were able to get for our workers, for steelworkers, for aluminum workers, for autoworkers right across the country.”
Trudeau is spending his time in ridings the Liberal party hopes to keep in the federal election on Oct. 21. His schedule has him in Fredericton and Riverview, N.B., before moving on to Cumberland-Colchester, Masstown, New Glasgow and Halifax, N.S., where he’ll end the day with a rally.
Scheer was in Quebec, hitting areas where the Conservatives hope to make gains.
Despite the apparent deadlock with the Liberals, Scheer refused to entertain any post-election scenario, including a potential Conservative minority by vowing, “we’re going to get a majority government.”
“I’ll leave it to others, and pundits and analysts to speculate. My job in the next six days is to go get that majority government, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Scheer said in Quebec City, where he committed to meet premiers in January 2020 to improve interprovincial free trade if he’s elected.
Scheer also dismissed Singh’s comments on Monday that the New Democrats are “not talking about a coalition government” one day after the NDP leader was unequivocal about his willingness to form an alliance to prevent a minority Conservative government.
“It’s quite clear that the NDP and Liberals will work together to implement high-deficit, high-tax government. And it’s quite clear that Justin Trudeau would pay any price to stay in power,” Scheer said.
Scheer’s schedule has him headed to Trois-Rivieres and the Montreal suburb of La Prairie — two seats held by Liberals and one by a New Democrat.
The Green party’s Elizabeth May is scheduled to talk about her party’s tax plans in Kamloops, B.C.