‘There could be a Conservative government,’ Justin Trudeau warns

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‘There could be a Conservative government,’ Justin Trudeau warns


Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is trying to head off the prospect of a Conservative government after Monday’s election with warnings of the consequences if Andrew Scheer becomes prime minister.

During a campaign stop in Whitby on Friday morning, Trudeau said a government led by Scheer could be in cards once the ballots are counted.

“There is a chance that there could be a Conservative government,” Trudeau said.

“Between now and Monday, here’s what people in Ontario need to ask themselves — are you ready for even more harmful Conservative cuts, cuts that would four times larger than Doug Ford’s?” Trudeau said, citing $53 billion in spending reductions pledged by the Conservatives that he said would result in “massive cuts to programs and services.”

“Ontario families can’t afford any more Conservatives cuts. You need a government that will invest in you and give you the support you need to succeed,” he said.

With the campaign now its final stages, the majority hopes of both the Conservatives and the Liberals have been put in doubt by the surprise surges in popularity for the Bloc Québécois and the New Democrats, both of which are better than expected.

Trudeau, who now rarely strays from his scripted lines, declined Friday to muse on the reasons for the stronger-than-expected showings of those two parties, saying only that “you can’t take any votes for granted.”

“I think in a campaign Canadians look at all sorts of different paths forward, look at different ways of making a choice,” he said.

But as he has done all week, Trudeau tried to rally progressive voters to the Liberal side with dire warnings about the perils of the Conservative agenda.

“We see that it boils down, just days before the election, between a choice between Conservative cuts and a Liberal government that would continue to make life more affordable for Canadians, fight climate change and get guns off our streets,” he said.

It’s a message that Trudeau will deliver across the Greater Toronto Area over the next two days, signalling how important the seats in the region are to the party’s re-election hopes.

He started Friday in Whitby, where he gave a boost Liberal candidate Ryan Turnbull.

Celina Caesar-Chavannes won the riding for the Liberals in 2015 by defeating a Conservative incumbent. She quit the Liberal caucus earlier this year after what she called a “hostile exchange” with Trudeau when she told him she didn’t intend to seek re-election. Trudeau praised Caesar-Chavannes as an “excellent” MP. “I thank her deeply for her service and wish her the very best in the coming years,” he said.

Trudeau used his stop at a store that sells baby supplies to highlight Liberal promises to enhance the Canada child benefit by 15 per cent for children under the age of one and make maternity benefits tax free.

But in the crowd of supporters gathered outside, climate change was the issue that drew Whitby resident Brian Kelly to back the Liberals.

While not perfect, he says the Liberal strategy to curb climate change is much better than the Conservatives’ plan. He said he’s not worried about the prospect of a minority government.

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“I think minority governments can be very productive. Having the Greens or the NDP in league with the Liberals would move the agenda forward, particularly on climate,” said Kelly, who is retired from his job as manager of sustainability for Durham Region.

“I would like the see the Liberal program strengthened and that could happen significantly in a minority government,” he said.

Bruce Campion-Smith

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