OTTAWA — Canadians will be asked this fall to choose between moving forward with the Liberals or getting ahead with the Conservatives.
But while they both seem to be urging voters to go in the same direction — onward — the messages underlying the two main parties’ campaign slogans are very different.
The ruling Liberals have settled on “Choose Forward” as their official campaign theme, part of their bid to cast the election as a choice between building on Justin Trudeau’s record of accomplishments or rolling back the clock to the era of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
The Conservatives, meanwhile, have settled on “It’s time for you to get ahead,” with emphasis on the “you” — as opposed to the wealthy corporations and high-priced lobbyists whom Leader Andrew Scheer maintains have gotten ahead under the Trudeau government.
Both parties have also released new national television and online ads that expound on their campaign themes.
The Liberal ad shows a smiling Trudeau engaging with constituents in his working class Montreal riding of Papineau and delivering his campaign message while riding a transit bus.
He talks about things he says the Liberals have done to help average Canadians, such as cutting taxes for the middle class, creating the Canada Child Benefit and tackling climate change — all things he notes the Conservatives have opposed.
“The Conservatives like to say they’re for the people, but then they cut taxes for the wealthy and cut services for everybody else,” Trudeau says — a sly reference to the slogan employed by unpopular Ontario Premier Doug Ford, whom the Liberals are doing their level best to turn into an albatross for the federal Conservatives.
The ad concludes with the prime minister facing the camera and saying that “in October we’ve got a choice to make — keep moving forward and build on the progress we’ve made, or go back to the politics of the Harper years. I’m for moving forward for everyone.”
The ad is buttressed by a series of “stories” from individual Canadians talking about how they’ve benefited from various Liberal policies or why, in general, they support the ruling party.
The Conservative ad features Scheer alone, talking into the camera about his plan for Canadians: “Lower the cost of living and leave more money in your pockets.”
“I believe that Canadians across this country are so frustrated because they’re working so hard and they’re following all the rules, but they feel like they’re falling further and further behind or they’re barely getting by,” Scheer says.
In a news release announcing the slogan, Scheer says it’s intended to draw a “sharp contrast” between who gets ahead under the Liberals and who will get ahead under a Conservative government.
“We’ve seen who gets ahead under Trudeau. It’s billion-dollar companies and high-priced lobbyists like Loblaws who get generous handouts from hard-working taxpayers,” he says, referring to federal funding of up to $12 million to help the supermarket chain install more energy-efficient refrigerators.
“It’s long-time corporate donors to the Liberal party like SNC-Lavalin, who Trudeau broke the law trying to protect from criminal prosecution.”
Not to be left out of the moving onwards theme, the Green party is campaigning on the slogan: “Not Left. Not Right. Forward Together.”
Signs for the fledgling People’s Party of Canada, meanwhile, are plastered with the phrase “Strong and Free.”
The New Democratic Party, which has been using the lines “on your side” and “a new deal for people” in the run-up to the campaign, is set to reveal its official campaign slogan and its first ad next week.
Trudeau has until Sept. 15 to call the election, which is scheduled for Oct. 21.
Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press