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Leaders hit campaign trail, continue political fights over abortion, climate change

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer (left) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right). (Source: Composite image, the Canadian Press)

Federal party leaders are scattered around the country as they resume their campaigns after last night's debate

Justin Trudeau fought back after Conservatives attacked him for using two planes during this campaign

Andrew Scheer offered some clarity around his personal position on abortion after refusing to do so during the debate

MONTREAL – Federal party leaders are back on the campaign trail today, targeting each other over many of the same arguments they went toe-to-toe over in last night’s French-language debate.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is hanging around Montreal, fighting back after the Conservatives attacked him for using two planes during this campaign.

Trudeau said he did the same thing in 2015 and that his campaign buys carbon offsets. He dismissed the issue as Conservative mud slinging.

“It’s a well-established, far-right tactic to try and discredit environmentalists,” Trudeau said. “To distract from the fact that they have zero approach on climate change.”

He attacked Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer for his lack of clarity on his personal position on abortion — something Scheer addressed in New Brunswick.

“My personal position has always been open and consistent. I am personally pro-life, but I’ve also made the commitment that as leader of this party, it is my responsibility to ensure that we do not reopen this debate,” Scheer said. “That we focus on issues that unite our party, and unite Canadians, and that’s exactly what I’ll do. That’s why I will vote against measures that attempt to reopen this debate.”

The Tory leader refused, several times, to reveal his personal views on abortion during the Wednesday night debate, and came under heavy scrutiny for his pushback from his opponents.

Meanwhile, Scheer promised on Thursday that a Conservative government would expand a program giving volunteer search and rescue workers and firefighters tax credits for their supplies.

He said that, if elected, he would lower the number of service hours required to qualify for the program, introduced by a previous Conservative government.

“Right now, search and rescue volunteers and volunteer firefighters have to do 200 hours of service before they qualify for the current tax credits,” he announced. “We will lower that criteria from 200 to 150 hours to ensure that more Canadians are eligible for these benefits.”

Scheer noted volunteers often pay out-of-pocket for equipment, uniforms, transportation, training, and insurance — costs that run into the thousands of dollars.

The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh is in Toronto today where he’ll be holding a media availability downtown ahead of a townhall with undecided voters.

Green Party Elizabeth May is spending some time on Vancouver Island, campaigning in Victoria today.