All five party leaders in the upcoming 2019 federal election. (The Canadian Press photos)

Scheer, Trudeau trade barbs ahead of debate, amid Ontario education unrest

All six federal party leaders in Ottawa for national English-language debate

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called his Liberal rival Justin Trudeau “disgusting” Monday morning for trying to score political points on the backs of Ontario students.

Trudeau fired back at Scheer at an event with local teachers, where he tried to highlight the ongoing tension between Ontario’s education workers and the government of Premier Doug Ford.

The early-morning skirmish marked what was otherwise quiet day on the campaign trail as all the party leaders prepared for the evening’s national English-language debate.

Scheer made an announcement about making national museum admission free and ensuring the memories of important Canadian historical figures aren’t erased by political correctness.

Trudeau started the day at a Boys and Girls Club in Ottawa, saying that as a former teacher, he understands that the education policies of the Ford government “are impacting not just teachers in schools but kids and families as well as the future we are building.”

The event was planned before a last-minute deal was reached Sunday night between the Ontario government and education support workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The agreement averted the closure of hundreds of the provinces elementary and high schools Monday morning.

Trudeau has repeatedly tried to link Scheer to Ford, to appeal to Ontario voters who may be having second thoughts about electing a Conservative government. Scheer hasn’t campaigned with Ford so far, including during stops in the premier’s own riding.

Trudeau has issued repeated warnings that Scheer will make cuts to important services just like Ford has done in Ontario. Recent changes made by the Ford government have increased class size limits in Ontario to save $2.8 billion over the next five years. As a result, the province’s Financial Accountability Office said by 2023-24 there will be 10,000 fewer teachers in classrooms than if class sizes had not been increased.

“The reality is the cuts Doug Ford has already brought in to education are being felt right across the province,” he said. “Right now we’re in an election where the option is to double down on Conservative approaches which always cut services, looks for austerity and gives tax breaks to the wealthiest instead of to everyone else.

Scheer was having none of it Monday, and said he thought Trudeau was probably the only parent in Ontario that was disappointed by the strike not going forward.

“It’s quite disgusting that he was trying to politicize kids’ education for his own personal partisan gain.

Monday’s debate is considered a critical appearance for all the leaders in a campaign that has seen little movement in the polls since it began on Sept. 11.

Trudeau could find himself on the defensive, facing attacks on his record from all sides.

For Scheer, it will be the first time he shares the stage with Maxime Bernier, who left the Conservatives in 2018 to start up his own People’s Party of Canada. Bernier was not invited to either a Maclean’s magazine debate in the first week of the campaign nor a TVA French debate in Montreal last week.

He presents a possible wild card for Scheer in the debate as he tries to attack disgruntled Conservative voters. Scheer dismissed the idea he has any concerns about Bernier’s presence.

“That changes nothing for me, because I am always there to replace Justin Trudeau,” he said.

READ MORE: Separation of church and state a hot topic in French-language debate

Scheer is coming off what was deemed a weak performance in the TVA debate last week that some Quebec pundits think harmed Conservative fortunes in that province.

Leaders don’t usually reveal new policies or promises in a debate but how they come off when facing opponents directly can buoy or sink a campaign.

The dynamic could also be interesting between NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and the Greens’ Elizabeth May, who appear to be fighting for third place.

The Bloc Quebecois’ Yves-Francois Blanchet has little to gain or lose in front of a national audience primarily of English-speakers.

This is the first of two debates taking place this week in a theatre at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., with a French-language version coming Thursday.

The election is in two weeks, on Oct. 21.

READ MORE: Trudeau attacks Conservatives for not releasing platform as leaders prepare for debate

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kimberley and District Community Foundation receives $30,000 in emergency funding

Community groups affected by COVID-19 pandemic invited to apply

Evacuation order downgraded in Fairmont, alert remains in place

An evacuation order has been downgraded for properties along Fairmont Creek, but… Continue reading

City of Kimberley Boil Water Notice rescinded

Water Quality Advisory remains in effect

City of Kimberley encourages people and pets to stay away from fast flowing creeks

City doesn’t anticipate flooding but creeks are running very fast

Wolf cubs at play in the Cranbrook area

Photographer Linda Botterill and her husband were out in the backcountry recently… Continue reading

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Vancouver Island school principal mourns brother, cousin killed during U.S. protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold at 0.25%

Central bank now expects GDP to decline between 10 and 20 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

B.C. schools see 30% of expected enrolment in schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Most Read