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.

Just Posted

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

Nurse comes home to ‘dream job’ at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

Jane Fox is the first Aboriginal liaison nurse at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital

Killer clowns and chainsaw-wielding ghouls descend on Central Saanich corn maze

Fright Night takes place at Saanichton Corn Maze Oct 19, 26

Key tag program leads to new respirator at Jubilee Hospital

TB Vets donate 28 life-saving respirators around B.C.

Mix of sun and cloud ahead for Monday

Plus a look ahead at your week

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Dog killed in alleged hit and run, Goodlife Marathon takes over city and more

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

The one with the ‘Friends’ photoshoot: Kelowna group recreates TV show intro

A friend’s departure prompted them to create something that really says, “I’ll be there for you”

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Most Read