| 5 March 2024, Tuesday |

Canada leaders kick off final day of campaign, polls suggest Trudeau has edge

On Sunday, the leaders of Canada’s major political parties began the penultimate day of campaigning ahead of Monday’s election, with polls showing that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals had an advantage.

Trudeau, 49, called the election two years early to win popular support for his left-of-center government’s management of the COVID-19 epidemic and reclaim the majority in Parliament he lost in 2019. In 2015, he was elected president for the first time.

His initial comfortable advantage disappeared as a result of voter dissatisfaction with the early call. According to polls, neither the Liberals nor the right-wing Conservatives have the 38 percent popular support required for a majority.

Trudeau, whose government racked up record levels of debt to tackle the pandemic, intends to fly from one end of the country to the other on Sunday, covering some 2,800 miles (4,500 km), in a last-minute bid to rustle up votes.

“We now get to pick the right direction for our country to keep moving forward, or to let Conservatives take us back,” Trudeau told a crowd of around 200 volunteers at his first event of the day in Montreal.

In contrast, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole planned to spend the entire day in parliamentary constituencies near Toronto, Canada’s largest city and pivotal for any party seeking to win power.

O’Toole, 48, initially took a lead after hammering Trudeau over what he called an unnecessary a power grab during the fourth wave of COVID-19. But in recent days he has been on the defensive over his opposition to the idea of vaccine mandates.

“We do not need a Conservative government that won’t be able to show the leadership on vaccinations and on science that we need to end this,” Trudeau told reporters in Montreal.

According to a top Liberal campaign insider, Trudeau gave the party a boost heading into the last weekend. A series of surveys released in the last days of the campaign show the Liberals and Conservatives deadlocked at approximately 32%.

This helps the Liberals, whose support is concentrated in major cities with diverse communities. Conservative voters are concentrated in sparsely populated rural areas and the west of the country.

If Trudeau is re-elected with a minority government, he will most certainly rely on the left-leaning New Democrats of Jagmeet Singh, who want to increase spending.

  • Reuters