Conservatives to formally launch federal election campaign Wednesday
Affordability to become key theme of upcoming election
The Conservative campaign machine revs up in earnest this week, with two events scheduled Wednesday in places where the party aims to increase its support come the Oct. 21 vote.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will fuel up the tank on his campaign bus for a first stop in Trois-Rivieres, Que., one of several Quebec ridings into which the party has been pouring resources to win seats it's never held in its modern incarnation.
From there, Scheer is to move on to the Toronto area, specifically the riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge, newly created for the 2015 election and won by the Liberals. The geographical area, however, had previously been represented by Conservative and former top Toronto cop Julian Fantino.
All three federal parties have been in campaign mode for weeks, despite the fact an election has yet to be officially called.
The official election call is coming any day, though — by the terms of Canada's election law, Parliament must be dissolved and the election called no later than Sunday.
The New Democrats launched their campaign over the weekend and the Conservatives are tired of playing the waiting game, said spokesman Simon Jefferies.
"We've watched for months as the Liberals have campaigned on the taxpayers' dime, re-announcing old commitments in key Liberal target ridings and fanning out Liberal ministers across Canada, with non-elected candidates by their side," he said in an email.
"The campaign has effectively started for the Liberals, only the taxpayer is picking up the bill as opposed to the Liberal party."
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was expected later Monday at a campaign event in Carleton, a riding outside downtown Ottawa now held by Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre. It's the second time this summer Trudeau has visited the area. Poilievre won by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2015 and his challenger in that campaign, Chris Rodgers, is running again.
The war rooms
The Liberals' message in Ontario has been that electing a Conservative government would be akin to bringing controversial Ontario Premier Doug Ford into the prime minister's office, accusing Scheer of planning cuts similar to those underway in Ontario.
It was a message they tried to reinforce Monday by sending around a three-year-old video clip of Scheer talking about how a Conservative government would approach any cuts it needs to make.
For their part, the Conservatives painted the Liberals as a party of questionable values, pointing out a three-year-old social-media post from a candidate writing favourably about Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
The campaign war rooms will spend countless hours dredging up and sending around past comments from candidates and leaders, Monday's volley a taste of what's to come.
While that's a campaign tactic common to all parties, the parties have signalled this election will also feature a common theme: "Only our party will make your life more affordable."
The New Democrats have already made pledges related to affordable housing, while the Conservatives have pledged tax credits and rebates. The Liberals' main message all summer has been that they fulfilled promises in that vein from the 2015 campaign, such as by creating a new child benefit and skills-training funds.