Is Erin O’Toole a ‘progressive’? Not when it matters, says Justin Trudeau

OTTAWA —Erin O’Toole is making an aggressive speech to centrist voters, saying he heads a “new party,” but Liberal leader Justin Trudeau disputed that claim on Friday, saying his main political rival is neither a progressive conservative nor a leader, and even if he is, his party will not follow him.

Trudeau launched into O’Toole the day after the election campaign’s only English debate, as federal party leaders move into the crucial last week before voting day and when early voting begins.

Speaking to Star’s editorial board, Trudeau defended his call for snap elections, saying he doubted his minority government would have survived much longer anyway, and scoffed at O’Toole’s suggestion in the election campaign Friday that he is a more trusted leader in the tradition of other progressive conservatives, such as the late Jim Flaherty.

“Maybe he’s a progressive conservative,” said Trudeau de O’Toole. But I wouldn’t call him a progressive conservative leader. A progressive conservative leader who says he is in favor of abortion would get his caucus to be in favor of abortion; a progressive conservative leader who says he is in favor of vaccines could convince 90 percent of his group before he can convince 90 percent of Canadians to get vaccinated.

“So I think that leader can tell what he is like, but if you are not really leading, if you are not leading people somewhere, if you are not willing to uphold those principles and rule on those principles. I wouldn’t give him that nickname. “

Trudeau said that in the race for the leadership of the Conservative party last year, “there was someone who had actually been a progressive conservative in Peter MacKay, who was defeated by Erin O’Toole, working with the right-wing conservative base of the Conservative party. : Derek Sloan, Leslyn Lewis, the gun lobby. All of those people worked together in a very concerted way to defeat the progressive conservative elements of the Conservative Party of Canada, and the people to whom he owes his leadership win to matter. “

O’Toole, speaking in Mississauga on Friday, presented himself as an agent of both change and stability. “We have a new leader. We have a plan. We have incredible candidates. “

He told reporters that he is asking Canadians to take a chance on him and his platform, which projects more than $ 50 billion in new spending and a goal of balancing the budget within a decade.

“We publish it all so that you, the Canadian people, can decide what kind of country you want to live in,” O’Toole said.

“We have shown them that we are a new party. We are a different party and we are here to earn their trust and support. ”

O’Toole, who campaigned as a “true blue” conservative to win the party’s leadership last year, said Flaherty, who served as the progressive conservative’s provincial finance minister and conservative federal finance minister, was a political mentor. .

He had hinted at his new progressive credentials during the federal election debate Thursday night after Trudeau attacked new Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, who has not ruled out supporting a conservative minority government. Singh, accused the liberal leader, “keeps pretending that it doesn’t matter if there is a progressive or a conservative government …”

That’s when O’Toole chimed in, “O progressive conservative.” Trudeau said goodbye to O’Toole and continued: “… or a conservative government. We know it makes a big difference for families. “

Trudeau told the Star that O’Toole’s recovery plan would wipe out the Liberals’ $ 30 billion child care program, which has already led to deals with seven provinces and one territory, and admitted it caught him by surprise. the conservatives’ admission that it would be ruled out entirely.

“In fact, I didn’t think Erin O’Toole would go so far as to reverse the deal. He did not expect him to make deals with more provinces … But he has decided that he is going to break those things. It is not going to create a single child care space in the entire country, it is not going to respond to the business community by saying that, loud and clear, it is time for child care. “

The Liberal leader also challenged O’Toole’s overall recovery plan. “Its supposed strength in the economy is actually based on a vision that is more suited to Canada in 1951 than in 2021,” he said. “Maybe that’s what he means by ‘take back Canada.’

Trudeau continued to defend his early election call on Friday, noting how the pandemic demonstrated that a government can face massive challenges, such as creating emergency benefits, wage subsidies and business supports.

“We were able to do massive things because the urgency required it,” he said. “Well, I want to take that same ability to be urgent about things and apply it even more to climate change, even more to reconciliation, even more to everything. And I think Canadians need to have a say on this. “

Trudeau also defended his decision to demand that all federal sector workers and passengers on airlines and interprovincial railways be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, although he admitted that “Yes, it is creating polarization.

Still, he did not apologize: “I do not apologize because people are angry with me for listening and defending (for) science. I’m not going to apologize for being unequivocal that vaccines are the way through this. And if you make a decision, a personal choice, not to get vaccinated, then I won’t feel sympathy for you when you come to me and say, ‘Oh, but I can’t go to a restaurant with my friends, or I can’t. I am not allowed to go to the gym or my employer tells me that I have to continue working from home ”.

“You have no right to endanger others. You have the right to make decisions about your own condition and your own health decisions, but you cannot impose those decisions (at the risk of) everyone else. “

Trudeau said he was inspired by former astronaut Chris Hadfield, who accepted that there are some people that science will never persuade.

“If someone firmly believes that the Earth is flat, then no amount of scientific proof will bring him down,” he said. “And that’s the problem with this: this anti-knowledge, anti-science, anti-authority, populism, which is going in all the wrong directions.”

Trudeau was also defiant, calling an election just two years after the last one. “It’s not about me,” he said, insisting that his goal was not simply to secure a political legacy.

“No, I have to win, because we have a lot to do and a lot to finish doing, or to get to a place where no future government will not be able to reverse. We are close, but we have not yet arrived. And frankly, those child care deals are iconic. “

He rejected a suggestion that his decision to go to the polls puts his signature child care program at risk, saying he would have been at risk anyway until the provinces used the money to build the system, hire child care workers and expand. physical services. nursery spaces.

“Child care would be at risk for the next five years until Canadians pay $ 10 a day across the country. Hopefully, at that point, no one will be able to reverse it. “

Although O’Toole proposed a carbon tax to be paid by consumers, which would go into an account to spend on green products, Trudeau suggested that “our national price of pollution” would also be at risk “if the Conservatives got elected, either now, or three years from now, or two years from now.

“There is nothing a government can do, or very little a government can do that cannot be reversed by another government,” he said.

“So, when I looked, at this moment, we are in the decisions that we have to make as a country, in the deep and profound disagreements that were visible during the last months in the Chamber, but that are now in full display during this electoral campaign. .. I think it is obvious that this Parliament was not going to last the full two years. ”


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