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Trudeau, O'Toole battle for trust as poll suggests Liberals, Tories tied in support

OTTAWA — The two front-runners in the federal campaign laid out their cases for why their opponent was misleading voters, hoping to win electors' trust as a new poll suggests the Liberals and Conservatives are running neck and neck.

OTTAWA — The two front-runners in the federal campaign laid out their cases for why their opponent was misleading voters, hoping to win electors' trust as a new poll suggests the Liberals and Conservatives are running neck and neck.

The poll conducted by Leger in collaboration with The Canadian Press indicated the parties are tied with the support of 32 per cent of decided voters. A similar poll conducted two weeks ago had the Conservatives ahead with 34 per cent compared with 30 per cent for the Liberals

The polls cannot be given a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

With such a tight race, the parties are trying to woo swing voters who have yet to cast a ballot — 5.8 million votes were cast over four days of advance polls, Elections Canada says — and drive a get-out-the-vote campaign complicated by COVID-19.

During a stop in Richmond, B.C., Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau looked to push progressive voters away from Jagmeet Singh's New Democrats by arguing only his party could prevent the election of a Conservative government.

Trudeau argued that Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole's plan would be detrimental for the country and the issues progressive voters care about, invoking the name of former prime minister Stephen Harper to link O'Toole to his predecessor's track record on climate change.

Trudeau also said the Conservatives were being dishonest with voters when Tories say the Liberals would tax the sale of primary residences if re-elected to govern.

"These are the things that we're seeing from Erin O'Toole. He's not leading. He's misleading," Trudeau said.

O'Toole toned down his attacks from a day earlier when he painted the Liberal leader as privileged and entitled — saying while Trudeau was "partying," he was doing search-and-rescue missions in the military — but nonetheless told reporters in Russell, Ont., that electors shouldn't reward Trudeau for another term.

He argued a vote for anyone but a Conservative is a vote for the status quo.

O'Toole also dismissed Trudeau's rhetoric on the previous Conservative government, saying the prime minister wanted to revive battles of the past with a platform and party that "no longer exists anywhere other than his imagination."

Then he similarly accused his main rival of being dishonest and untrustworthy.

"Canadians deserve an honest government, an ethical government, and one with a plan," O'Toole said. "Mr. Trudeau has let people down time after time after time. We deserve better than that."

If the trajectory of polls bear out on election day, the country could find itself again with a minority government with the NDP or Bloc Québécois potentially holding the balance of power.

The Leger poll suggested New Democrats support was at 20 per cent of decided voters, down from the 24 per cent of respondents from a poll two weeks earlier. 

Campaigning in downtown Toronto, Singh sidestepped a question about whether there was anything he would specifically need to see from either a Conservative or Liberal government to earn his party's support.

Instead, he focused on his party's promises to help with affordability concerns and a desire to make sure the ultrarich and profitable corporations pay more in taxes to help defray the fiscal cost of federal pandemic aid.

"That's what Canadians can expect from us. They can expect from us someone who is going to stand up for them and fight for them," Singh said after outlining plans to lower wireless prices. 

"We're not looking to plunge the country into elections, we are looking to get results and that's what Canadians should know."

In Quebec, the Liberals are holding steady with support of 34 per cent of decided voters polled by Leger, compared with 30 per cent for the Bloc Québécois. Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet said Tuesday that he believes there has been a swing his way in the province after last week's national debates.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul finished a two-day swing in Prince Edward Island, hoping to build on the provincial party's recent electoral success. The Leger poll found support for the Greens among three per cent of decided voters.

"Every Green who has ever been elected provincially or federally has gotten re-elected in this country because they work incredibly hard for their communities," Paul said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2021.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press