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Main party leaders pitch for Quebec votes in dying days of federal election campaign

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, centre, greets supporters during a campaign stop in Brampton, Ont., on Saturday, October 12, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Most of the main party leaders are focusing on Quebec today, as the federal election campaign nears its end

The province could make-or-break the election depending on the party

MONTREAL – Most of the main party leaders are in the battleground province of Quebec, pushing for votes in the dying days of this election campaign.

The province could make-or-break the election depending on the party, so there is no wonder why the spotlight is on la belle province in these final days.

On Wednesday, Liberal Justin Trudeau accused the Conservatives of running one of the dirtiest campaigns, and told voters this election is a choice.

“Will we choose fear, division, and austerity? Or will we choose to continue to move forward in a way that has grown our economy, lifted people out of poverty?” he said in Montreal.

Shortly after that comment, the Liberals tweeted a video of Tory Leader Andrew Scheer in the House of Commons sitting throughout the singing of the national anthem.

Trudeau said that Canadians are saddened to see some parties running polarizing and negative campaigns using tactics imported from other countries.

Over the weekend, a security threat forced the Liberal leader to wear a bulletproof vest at an event, and the next day he lamented the divisive nature of the campaign.

He said the Conservatives are adopting the politics of fear and negativity, though he did not blame them for the security threat.

The Tories have said the Liberals want to legalize all drugs, when Trudeau has said repeatedly his party has no plans to do so, and that the Liberals would impose a tax on home sales, which the Liberals have denied.

Meantime, Andrew Scheer is wrapping up what’s likely his final visit to Quebec during this election campaign.

He’s headed to a riding long held by the Bloc Quebecois, but whose current MP was at the heart of political chaos for the party after the 2015 election.

Rheal Fortin was the BQ’s interim leader after its former boss, Gilles Duceppe, failed to win a seat in that campaign.

Fortin chose not to run for permanent leadership, and after frustration with the winner of that contest, briefly left the BQ.

He’s now back in the fold, but the Conservatives are hoping to capitalize on the uncertainty in the competing party by running a star candidate in the riding: former Olympic champion Sylvie Frechette.

After his Quebec stop, Scheer heads into southwestern Ontario for campaign events in Essex and then Ancaster, near Hamilton.

The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh evoked the memory of late NDP Leader Jack Layton by campaigning in Hudson, Quebec, at Jack Layton Park, with widow Olivia Chow.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that he did some amazing things,” Singh said. “In a lot of ways, he did some things better than me, and I think that’s good. I think it’s important to acknowledge that. He had a long time to build up an incredible movement in Quebec, and I think that’s beautiful and I want to build on that legacy.”

He made the pitch that the NDP is the only true progressive party, and called for voters to stick with them.

Singh said people in Quebec have started to look beyond his turban, to see someone they can relate to. He said he believes he shares the same values as most Quebecers.

“I certainly believe things have changed throughout the campaign. I think as I’ve been able to talk about my values, it’s gone beyond just the appearances and people are like ‘You know what? He actually does share our values.’ And I’m proud of that, because campaigns should matter, and it does matter, and I’ve seen the change.”

Political watchers at the beginning of the election campaign questioned whether Singh’s message would resonate in Quebec, where the provincial government passed a law banning the wearing of religious symbols or garments by public servants.

Singh wears a turban as part of his religion.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is in Victoria for an announcement, near her home riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands. People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier is focused on preserving his seat in Beauce.