While standing in the blazing Ontario sun, Erin O’Toole made one of his final pitches to Canadians before of Monday’s vote — but a notable surge in support for the People’s Party of Canada may also be making the Conservative leader feel the heat.
O’Toole delivered his most vehement message yet to individuals who are considering voting for “minor parties” in response to Justin Trudeau’s Liberal administration.
He didn’t have to say which of the major political parties he was referring to since he didn’t have to.
Political watchers, including Conservatives, have increased their warnings in recent days about splitting the vote on the right with Maxime Bernier’s populist PPC, which could sink the Tories’ chances of defeating the Liberals in a race that has been razor tight.
A Leger poll released earlier this week in collaboration with The Canadian Press indicated the Liberals and Conservatives are tied with the support of 32 per cent of decided voters and that the People’s Party was at five per cent support.
O’Toole noted the anger people feel toward the Liberal leader, which has been illustrated by the crowds of protesters who have followed him across the country during the campaign, swearing and chanting to “lock him up,” channelling their staunch opposition to vaccine mandates and other health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which Trudeau forcefully supports.
Some of those in the crowds have been PPC supporters, seen holding the party’s signs. The party booted one of their Ontario riding association president’s after allegations surfaced he threw gravel at Trudeau while he was there on a campaign stop.
The Conservative leader said Friday that Trudeau has addressed these protesters, “but there’s actually millions of Canadians who are very frustrated with Mr. Trudeau.”
“And if they allow that frustration to do anything other than vote Conservative, they’re voting for Mr. Trudeau,” O’Toole said at a campaign stop in London, Ont., where Bernier recently held a rally.
“There are five parties, there are two choices: More of the same with Mr. Trudeau, or real change and ethical government with a plan, with Canada’s Conservatives.”
Among the candidates who echoed O’Toole’s sentiment was Leslyn Lewis, a former leadership rival of his who was heavily backed by social conservatives and is now running for election in Ontario, where the Tories need to gain seats if they hope to form government.
“A vote for the PPC is a vote for Trudeau,” she tweeted Friday. “Let’s stand united (and) get the job done for the sake of our country and our future.”
Dan Robertson, chief of strategy for O’Toole, also tweeted Friday: “The stakes are too high.”
“There’s no such thing as a wasted vote. Every vote sends a message. If that’s your goal, fine. But if your goal is to show Justin Trudeau the door, only the Conservatives can do that.”
This is the second election for Bernier as leader of the PPC. The former Tory MP from Quebec lost his seat in the 2019 vote, and didn’t come close to electing a single MP in the race, where he campaigned on immigration reform and attacking the Conservatives for faking their political values.
This time around he’s trying to galvanize support by coming out hard against mandatory vaccinations and provinces using a passport-like system for vaccines to allow people to access businesses and events.
O’Toole has also stated that he opposes making vaccination an all-or-nothing proposition, preferring instead to allow individuals who are not inoculated for whatever reason to undergo regular quick testing, since he respects an individual’s freedom to make their own health decisions.
Despite this, candidates have had to explain it to voters who have questioned them at the polls.
In a video shared to Instagram on Thursday, Manitoba incumbent MP Candice Bergen, who is also the party’s deputy leader, stated, “If we want to say goodbye to Justin Trudeau, Conservatives must stay united, and we can achieve just that on Sept. 20.”
Source_ The Canadian Press