Trudeau tries to boost re-election campaign
HAMILTON – Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau entered the crucial last stage of his re-election campaign on Friday, after an inconclusive leaders’ debate in which he failed to land many blows on his main rival.
Trudeau, who heads a minority government that depends on the opposition to pass legislation, called the September 20 election two years early to capitalise on his Liberal government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the 49-year-old leader, who has been in power for six years, struggled to make a mark on the campaign trail amid voter fatigue and the public’s unhappiness with the early election call.
Polls show the Conservatives led by Erin O’Toole, 48, have a slight lead and could win enough seats to form a government.
O’Toole, who has had little chance to introduce himself to voters since becoming the leader of the Conservatives last year, said Trudeau was corrupt and would run up unsustainable debts.
Trudeau’s government racked up record levels of debt with programmes to help dull the economic impact of the pandemic, aid which he said helped the economy recover more quickly.
Statistics Canada said 90,200 jobs were added in August and the unemployment rate fell to 7.1 per cent, the lowest since the onset of the pandemic.
Trudeau and O’Toole, along with the leaders of three smaller parties, took part in a two-hour televised debate on Thursday.
The debate can be an important way to attract voters, but its complex format meant leaders often talked over each other and gave Trudeau few chances to score points on O’Toole.
Three senior Liberals with a direct role in running the campaign said the evening had been a disappointment.