As three leaders prepare to debate, Trudeau accused of ducking record

Liberal leader to be absent from first debate, hosted by the Maclean’s and CityTV, in Toronto

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau greets the crowd during a campaign stop in Vancouver on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Justin Trudeau is afraid to run on his record, his rivals charged Thursday — but with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer again fielding questions about abortion and the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh deep in Liberal territory in Ontario, all three found themselves wading through the muck of past political messes on Day 2 of the federal election campaign.

The Conservative, NDP and Green leaders largely spent the day hunkered down in preparation for the Maclean’s/CITY TV debate, scheduled to take place later Thursday in Toronto, but Scheer and Singh both emerged briefly to pitch their priorities on taxes and health care.

Trudeau, under fire for opting to skip the first debate, said he’ll stick to the official debates next month and a third in French hosted by TVA. And he suggested he’d prefer to be on the campaign trail in B.C. and Alberta anyway.

“The opportunity to get out across this country, speak with Canadians, listen to them, and talk about how we are going to build a better future for everyone and how we’re going to choose a better future for everyone is at the core of what this election is all about for me,” he said in Victoria, where he announced an expansion of a program to help first-time homebuyers.

“I’m going to keep doing that.”

Scheer said he wasn’t surprised Trudeau would be a no-show, given the recent Globe and Mail reports that have thrust the SNC-Lavalin affair back into the headlines. But the Liberal leader is also gun-shy when it comes to talking about Canada’s place in the world, he added.

“I note that this evening, a part of the debate will be focused on foreign affairs,” said Scheer, who was in Toronto to highlight a promised tax credit on maternity and paternity benefits.

“And if there’s one area where Justin Trudeau’s failures have been so visible to Canadians, so evident that Canadians can immediately understand, it’s on the subject of foreign affairs.”

Singh said he’s disappointed Trudeau has decided to skip the event, as Canadians expect him to show up and defend his record.

“His record is pretty abysmal but that doesn’t mean he should give up on the debate,” he said after an event in Brampton, Ont.

READ MORE: Federal party leaders set to dive into Day 2 of the election campaign

Singh launched his first federal campaign from the Brampton area in 2011, losing to a Conservative. In 2015, the area’s five ridings were all scooped up by the Liberals. On Thursday, he fielded questions — including one in Punjabi, which he speaks fluently — about why Liberal supporters should pivot his way this time around.

He promised to be a prime minister who responds directly to the area’s concerns, highlighted by his promise of the day: funds to build and expand hospitals to serve the booming population of the area.

The Greens were dealing with their own candidate issues, moving swiftly to remove a candidate in an Ontario riding. A social media post had shown Erik Schomann helping roast a pig, with the caption suggesting the leftovers would be mailed to Muslims. Members of white supremacist groups often suggest mailing pigs as a way to threaten Muslims. Pork is forbidden in Islam.

While Green party Leader Elizabeth May was set to participate in Thursday night’s debate, People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was excluded from the lineup.

He took his campaign to his home riding of Beauce, in Quebec, the lone seat his party currently holds. He said it was funny that the satirical Rhinoceros Party has found someone with the same name to run against him in his hometown, but feels voters are smart enough to make the right choice.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta reports 257 new cases of COVID-19

Central zone has 157 active cases

Samson Cree Nation reeling after 10 year-old-boy-shot, 13-year-old charged with manslaughter

‘Don’t give up, keep praying, we will get through this’

Update: Possible drowning at Pigeon Lake involved man and woman from Edmonton

Bodies recovered from Pigeon Lake’s northeastern shores.

RCMP investigate possible drowning at Pigeon Lake; Man and woman found dead on shore

Bodies recovered from Pigeon Lake’s northeastern shores.

134 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday

First day over 100 cases since July 31

Canada to match donations to Lebanon relief

Canada is directing all of its aid for this crisis directly to humanitarian organizations, not the Lebanese government

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

Oilers 50/50 raffle delayed as team resolves errors, offers refunds

Alberta fans who want to void any ticket purchases will have until noon Thursday

Sylvan Lake couple donates $850,000 to AACS

The doantion will be put towards a new X-Ray machine for the facility

Who can dismiss the Governor General? A look at protocols and possibilities

The Governor General is appointed by the Queen, on the advice of the prime minister

Second phase of NHL draft lottery set for Monday

Each club eliminated from qualifying round has a 12.5 per cent shot at the No. 1 pick

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

13-year-old charged in death of boy, 10 in Maskwacis

The RCMP Major Crimes Unit have laid a manslaughter charge against a 13-year-old boy from Maskwacis.

Most Read