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What did they say? Echoes from Sunday’s campaign kickoffs

Last Updated Aug 15, 2021 at 7:00 pm EDT

OTTAWA (CityNews) ─ Justin Trudeau pulled the plug Sunday on his minority Liberal government, arguing that Canadians deserve a say on how to finish the fight against COVID-19 and build back the shattered economy.

But opposition leaders blasted Trudeau for putting his quest for a majority ahead of the health and safety of Canadians, plunging the country into what they called an unnecessary and reckless election just as a fourth wave of the deadly coronavirus is gathering steam across the country.

Here’s what the party leaders had to say on Sunday.

Speaking outside Rideau Hall, Justin Trudeau said if Canadians are opposed to what he’s doing, we should tell him with our votes.

“There are many things in regards to ending this pandemic, in regards to building back better, that we didn’t talk about two years ago in the 2019 election, that I think Canadians have a right to weigh in on.

“We’ve seen situations where Conservative backbenchers have referred to some of these government’s decisions as tyrannical, in terms of how we’re creating mandates for vaccination for public servants, or vaccination of people on trains and airplanes. Well, the answer to tyranny, is to have an election.”

Across town, Erin O’Toole kicked off his campaign with the promise of one million jobs within a year, deals for Canadian-made medical supplies and a balanced budget. But O’Toole was unable to clearly answer if he’d require Tory candidates to get the vaccine.

“Conservatives for the last year, as you know, have been demanding vaccine supply and access and encouraging Canadians to get vaccinated. I think we can also have an approach that uses a whole suite of health measures, from rapid-testing and screening, mask usage, to have reasonable accommodations.

“Canadians deserve to have a government that will be ready for a crisis.”

The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh launched his campaign with a warning that Liberals and Conservatives alike would either claw back COVID-relief benefits, or hike taxes to pay for them. Singh says the NDP has another way.

“Companies like Amazon, which made record profits in this pandemic, pay virtually no taxes in Canada. We can stop that. We can make sure they pay their fair share and invest that back in people. Every day workers pay their fair share. So should wealthy corporations.

“We are the only party saying very clearly, there’s a third option, which is to make the ultra-rich pay their fair share.”

Pointing to recent wildfires and heatwave-linked deaths in Western Canada, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul says the case for her party is stronger than ever. Paul, recently the target of criticism from within her own party, says Canada needs to join the green economy while it still can.

“It is estimated to generate a trillion USD per year by 2030, and Canada has the chance of a lifetime, not only to definitively bend the curve on greenhouse gas emissions, but also to set ourselves up with the jobs of the future, to set ourselves up with the competitive economy of the future.”

With files from Xiaoli Li and The Canadian Press