By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) - With less than two weeks to go in Canada’s federal election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in the far north capital of Iqaluit on Tuesday to promote the Liberals climate change plan.
Meanwhile, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and New Democrat head Jagmeet Singh are campaigning in events in Canada’s largest city, Toronto.
The latest polls show Liberals and Conservatives in a dead heat as the campaign intensifies.
The three main party leaders are fresh from last night’s debate, which also featured the Green Party’s Elizabeth May, Bloc Quebecois Yves-Francois Blanchet and People’s Party of Canada Maxime Bernier.
The two-hour TV and live-streamed affair was characterized by attacks on Trudeau’s leadership for the past four years, including his wearing blackface makeup almost two decades ago and the SNC Lavalin bribery scandal, which saw two Cabinet minister’s resign for his interference in the decision whether to prosecute the huge Quebec construction company.
“Justin Trudeau only pretends to stand up for Canada,” Scheer said.
“He’s very good at pretending things. He can’t even remember how many times he put blackface on because the fact of the matter is he is always wearing a mask,” said Scheer. “Mr. Trudeau, you’re a phony and you’re a fraud and you do not deserve to govern this country.”
Trudeau said he was the only leader to say that he might intervene in Quebec’s controversial Bill 21, the law that forbids most public employees wearing religious symbols while on the job, including the hijab, turban, Christian cross and kippah.
None of the other leaders chose to get involved in the provincial bill, which has been roundly criticized as discriminating against Muslim women.
The five leaders attacked Trudeau on the Liberals climate change plan, with May calling it a “commitment to failure.”
Trudeau bridled at the remark.
“We have done more [on climate change] over the past four years than any government in the history of Canada,” he responded.
Indigenous affairs was also a topic, with Singh promising to put up the money to finally provide clean drinking water for all native communities. Some have gone decades having to boil water.
All candidates took turns touting their party’s plan to save Canadians money and explained why their oppositions’ plans were flawed.
Election Day is Oct. 21.