Justin Trudeau attacks Blanchet and O’Toole while campaigning in Quebec

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Justin Trudeau attacks Blanchet and O'Toole while campaigning in Quebec
Justin Trudeau attacks Blanchet and O'Toole while campaigning in Quebec

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau went on the offensive against Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet on Sunday as he spent a second straight day targeting Bloc-held ridings on Montreal’s South Shore.

Trudeau said Blanchet has a mixed record of standing up for the environment and “has not been particularly strong or clear” in pushing for COVID-19 vaccination.

“I think Mr. Blanchet is struggling to be relevant on any of those big issues because he can speak for Quebecers, but so do we,” he said. “Except we can deliver for Quebecers.”

Trudeau lost several ridings south of Montreal to the Bloc in 2019, and regaining them is key to his electoral hopes.

he was in the La Prairie riding near Montreal on Sunday, a seat the Liberals lost to the Bloc’s Alain Therrien in the last election. As he spoke at a park in Candiac, Que., he hammered home his commitment to Quebec and the fact that only his party, and not Blanchet’s, can form government.

The Liberal leader’s campaign has been hampered in recent days by criticism from Quebec Premier François Legault, who has said the federal Liberals, NDP and Greens have an overly centralized approach that would weaken Quebec’s powers.

“Mr O’Toole wants to take it back to 1951, apparently,” he said.

But Trudeau also doubled down on another issue in which he and the Quebec premier have been at odds.

He reminded reporters Sunday that he was the only federal leader who has left the door open to participating in an eventual court challenge against Quebec’s secularism law, which bans some public servants from wearing religious symbols on the job.

A ruling on the law is currently being appealed, and Trudeau said any federal intervention would only come after that process is completed.

“We have not taken off the table intervening at a later date because no federal government should take off the table the ability to stand up for people’s fundamental rights,” he said.

Trudeau was greeted by a small crowd of supporters who cheered him warmly at the riverside park. There was also one lone protester, who yelled loudly as the Liberal leader spoke and let out a cheer when the name of People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was mentioned.

Trudeau said Sunday that while he and all Quebecers may not always agree on a vision of federalism, he believes their values align on issues such as the environment, gun control and COVID-19 vaccination.

He also stressed his party’s promise to get daycare costs to an average of $10-a-day nationally within five years, as well as a $6 billion child-care agreement his party signed with Quebec. He attacked O’Toole for planning to axe the plan in favour of a system of tax credits, which Trudeau said would hurt women’s ability to participate in the workforce.

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