Trudeau heads east to Atlantic Canada to start second week of federal campaign

22 Aug 2021 | Politics | 227 |
Trudeau heads east to Atlantic Canada to start second week of federal campaign

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took to the East Coast on Sunday to shore up support for his party and avoid bleeding more seats in the region.

The Liberals swept the 32 seats in Atlantic Canada on their way to a majority government in 2015, only to see a rollback in results in 2019 as they bled four seats to the Conservatives and one each to the New Democrats and the Greens.

The party has since flipped Jenica Atwin in Fredericton, depriving the Greens of a seat outside of British Columbia, but the Liberals have a handful of retiring MPs whose seats could be threatened.

Unlike during the first week of the campaign where he largely hit ridings the Liberals want to win, Trudeau’s schedule on Sunday took him into Liberal-held ridings, including two with departing MPs.

First he looked to rally the faithful, gathered under a hot New Brunswick sun and seated in lawn chairs and picnic tables – a few huddled in the only shade by the only shrubbery in sight – in the New Brunswick riding of Miramichi-Grand Lake.

Lisa Harris, a three-term provincial politician, is looking to keep the riding red as MP Pat Finnigan retires.

Trudeau was also to campaign Sunday in Charlottetown where the Liberals are hoping to keep their electoral stranglehold on the province of Prince Edward Island, including in the riding of Malpeque.

Long-time Liberal MP Wayne Easter has represented the riding since 1993, but the Liberals watched their share of the vote drop in the 2019 election as the Greens saw a surge in their support.

Speaking to reporters, Trudeau said Sunday he was “very optimistic” about his party’s chances in Atlantic Canada, flanked by Harris, long-time New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc, and Anita Anand, the procurement minister who represents a Greater Toronto Area riding but has roots in Atlantic Canada.

But Trudeau faced questions about why voters in the region should back his party, exactly what the Liberals are offering as far as a “big idea,” and the calls Radio-Canada reported Trudeau is making to candidates in search of one.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole released his party’s platform last week. The New Democrats laid out their list of proposals before the official launch of the campaign, and the Bloc Quebecois unveiled theirs on Sunday.

“There is no shortage of ideas,” Trudeau said in French.

“We will be able to deliver a campaign and a platform, and above all a vision of the future, that will contrast greatly to the smallness of Mr. O’Toole’s approach.”

Asked for a timeline about when the full Liberal platform would be out, Trudeau said in French that he is outlining elements of his plan daily, adding a fully costed platform would soon be available.

O’Toole’s party is equally eyeing seats in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador, targeting one east coast Liberal minister with an attack on Sunday.

The Conservatives questioned thousands in spending for furniture and renovations for the office of Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan.

The Liberals say the work included the deputy minister’s office and those of associated staff on the floor and were started during the 2019 federal election before Jordan became minister.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 22, 2021.

by The Canadian Press