OTTAWA—Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will take the initiative Wednesday and officially launch his bid to become Canada’s next prime minister.
Sources tell the Star the Conservatives will kickoff their election campaign Wednesday, rather than wait for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to head to Rideau Hall and officially call the general election.
The Conservative move would end weeks of pre-election posturing by political parties and start what is expected to be a fractious federal campaign. Scheer will launch his campaign Wednesday in Québec and finish the day in the GTA — two crucial battlegrounds the party needs to pick up seats if they hope to form government after the vote, expected on Oct. 21.
“No party wins government without seats in (Toronto’s) 905 (region),” said Jenni Byrne, a longtime Conservative insider who managed the party’s 2015 campaign, in an interview with the Star.
“Initially out of the gate their first stops are going to be, or should be, in ridings that they hope to pick up and areas where they can hit a large amount of ridings that are in play.”
A spokesperson for the Conservative campaign said the party doesn’t want to play into the “Liberals’ game” of guessing when Trudeau will formally launch the campaign.
“We’ve watched for months as the Liberals have campaigned on the taxpayers’ dime, reannouncing old commitments in key Liberal target ridings and fanning out Liberal minister’s across Canada,” said Cory Hann, the party’s director of communications, in a statement.
“The campaign has effectively started for the Liberals, only the taxpayer is picking up the bill as opposed to the Liberal party.”
Hann said the Conservatives have candidates in place in all 338 federal ridings, and Scheer’s team is “eager” to talk about how the party would govern.
“That work begins on Wednesday.”
The New Democrats planned to kickoff their campaign Sunday, but held back the official launch due to Hurricane Dorian hitting the east coast. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh still held a campaign-style rally in Toronto Sunday, with hundreds of supporters and the party’s campaign bus.
Speculation in official Ottawa about when the election campaign will officially start has been rampant for weeks. Most recently, Trudeau was expected to call it on Sunday — but Hurricane Dorian’s arrival nixed that idea. Now, smart money is on Thursday after Manitoba’s provincial election is in the books, or next Sunday.
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