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

Surrey mayor denies property tax deferral motion

Councillor’s notice of motion for Surrey property taxes to be deferred until Dec. 2 out of order

Team refunds OK’d for cancelled Surrey Mayor’s Cup soccer tournament

The decision follows the amalgamation of the Central City Breakers club with Surrey Football Club

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

April 7: Brewery starts making hand sanitizer, City of White Rock and Surrey lays off employees

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Look at hospitalizations, not recovery stats for COVID-19, B.C. professor says

Cases in hospital are a definitive count of people who have the novel coronavirus

B.C. First Nations want to launch fight of Trans Mountain pipeline approval

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear five challenges about the pipeline

N95 masks on the way for Canada after 3M reaches deal with White House

The Trump White House had ordered 3M to stop shipping masks to Canada

Most Read