Canada’s Trudeau hammers rival over COVID-19 stance on last day of campaign

MONTREAL/OAKVILLE, Ontario, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, crisscrossing the country making a last pitch to voters before Monday’s election, said on Sunday only his Liberals could end the COVID-19 pandemic and accused his main rival of taking the wrong approach.

Opinion polls indicate the political advantage moving to Trudeau, who is stepping up attacks on Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole over the pandemic. Trudeau favors vaccine mandates opposed by O’Toole, who prefers testing to control the public health crisis.

If Trudeau does win, it would most likely be another minority government, leaving him dependent again upon other parties to govern. Trudeau, 49, took power in 2015.

O’Toole, 48, has been on the defensive since ally Jason Kenney, the conservative premier of Alberta, apologized on Wednesday for relaxing COVID-19 controls too early and mishandling the pandemic. Cases in the western province have soared.

“We do not need a Conservative government that won’t be able to show the leadership on vaccinations and on science that we need to end this,” Trudeau told reporters in Montreal.

Trudeau added that Canadians “have a really important choice to make, whether they want Erin O’Toole to continue working with Jason Kenney on not ending this pandemic, or do they want a Liberal government.”

O’Toole has sidestepped questions about his earlier support for Kenney’s approach.

Sunday offered the last chance to sway voters. Parties are not allowed to campaign on election day. Trudeau intends to make stops across Canada, covering some 2,800 miles (4,500 km). O’Toole instead focused on parliamentary constituencies near Toronto, Canada’s largest city.