SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says he hopes the last six weeks of the election campaign will be enough to woo union voters, even though labour leaders would rather vote NDP.
The country’s largest unions are making a push to have their members vote strategically in key battleground ridings to oust Conservative incumbents and ensure Prime Minister Stephen Harper doesn’t receive another mandate.
In Ontario, that push means union leadership at Unifor is urging its members to help elect incumbent NDP candidates and vote strategically in other ridings where the polls are close. That latter strategy is what the Quebec Federation of Labour plans to do by helping any candidate that can oust or defeat Conservatives in that province.
Trudeau seemingly dismissed the notion that unionized workers wouldn’t vote Liberal, suggesting labour voters will come around to his plan to help working class Canadians.
The extra-long campaign period gives voters more chances to review the policies each party is putting forward, Trudeau said, adding that he trusted unionized workers to see the merits of his plan.
“I have talked with organizations and groups across the country, including organized labour and the leaders of all the various labour organizations in this country to ensure that they know that we have a real plan for growth, investing in the middle class and for building a strong future,” Trudeau said.
“I look forward to support from labour unions across the country.”
The Conservatives have angered organized labour leaders in recent years, with most of the vitriol targeted at two contentious pieces of legislation, both private member’s bills: one made it more difficult to certify as a union – the bill was known as C-525 – and another imposed new financial reporting requirements on unions that several provinces argued was unconstitutional.
Trudeau vowed to repeal the latter bill C-377, and C-525 if elected on Oct. 19.
“The Liberal party fully respects labour unions and the work they do and is intending to work with them to ensure that Canadians have a real and fair chance to succeed,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau made the comments as union leaders and their members prepared for the country’s largest Labour Day parade in Toronto. Trudeau, however, wasn’t there, instead boarding his campaign plane that he unveiled Monday to travel to Prince Edward Island.
It was his first time in P.E.I. since the election campaign began.
In a stump speech with the plane behind him before taking off, Trudeau talked about his “three-point-plan” for the country, a simplified version of a complex spending program he wants to embark on if elected to govern. That plan would see the Liberals add tens of billions in new federal spending, driving up deficits of almost $10 billion a year in at least three fiscal years.
The new language is a strategic tactic by the campaign to distill the plan with several moving parts into a simple idea for voters to hopefully latch on to over the next few weeks.
Trudeau argued again that his plan would give the Canadian economy a charge after being in a recession during the first half of the year. He argued Canada remains in recession, even though the country won’t know if that’s the case officially until Statistics Canada releases its next set of quarterly economic indicators in early November, weeks after election day.
“The Conservative government’s own definition of a recession as put forward in a gimmick law just a few months ago, defines a recession as two successive quarters of negative growth. And that’s exactly what we’ve had. So we are in a recession right now,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau touched down in Prince Edward Island on Monday afternoon and was greeted by the premier, Liberal Wade MacLauchlan. He then addressed a crowd of about 300 supporters at an event in Summerside, the only riding on the island the Liberals don’t hold.
In a short speech to supporters, Trudeau poked fun at the two Conservative candidates who were tossed from the Tory fold for previous misdeeds, saying it wasn’t hard to believe coming from a party that believed Mike Duffy was from P.E.I.
Trudeau heads to Nova Scotia and will continue campaigning Tuesday in that province and in New Brunswick.
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Jordan Press, The Canadian Press