Federal election 2015: Leaders hit campaign trail after 1st debate
All leaders held events Friday in Toronto area before fanning out
The country's political leaders resumed their campaigns in the vote-rich Greater Toronto Area on Friday, a day after the first debate of the election campaign.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau both spoke at events in Toronto on Friday morning.
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Trudeau addressed a rally in the Eglinton-Lawrence riding, which is currently held by Finance Minister Joe Oliver. That is the riding where former Conservative MP Eve Adams tried to secure the Liberal Party nomination but was defeated by long-time Liberal volunteer Marco Mendicino.
Asked if he regretted appearing at a news conference with Adams in February when she switched allegiance to the Liberals, Trudeau didn't answer directly, but said he was proud of the party's open nomination process.
Meanwhile, Mulcair spoke at an NDP gathering at a hotel in downtown Toronto, where he said Harper couldn't offer "satisfactory" answers about the economy during the debate.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mulcair?src=hash">#mulcair</a> looks more energized and comfortable in a crowd of 100 than he did on TV last nigh <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash">#cdnpoli</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/elxn42?src=hash">#elxn42</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ndp?src=hash">#ndp</a>—@CamMacIntoshCBC
Both Mulcair and Trudeau are coming off their first election campaign debate since taking the helm of their parties.
"We're very happy" with how things went last night at the debate, Mulcair said.
Asked if he thought his performance in Thursday's debate will make it easier for Liberal candidates when they are out door-knocking, Trudeau replied: "I let all you [journalists] worry about all those political things."
For his part, Mulcair said he is looking forward to more debates, but says he has several conditions, one of which is the participation of Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper.
"Of course, I'm going to take part when the prime minister's there," Mulcair said. "He's the person that I want to defeat and replace."
Following his Toronto appearance, Mulcair made stops in three southern Ontario ridings, all won by the Conservatives in the last election, on his way back to Ottawa: Oshawa, Perth-Wellington and Peterborough-Kawartha. The latter riding was most recently held by Harper's former parliamentary secretary, Dean Del Mastro, who was found guilty of over-spending in the last election.
About 200 supporters turned out to greet him in Peterborough. Over a broken PA system Mulcair spoke about the need for more affordable daycare and to restore funding the CBC.
Harper defends economic numbers
Harper spoke Friday morning at a campaign event in Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto, where he talked up the Conservatives' universal child care benefit and took shots at the NDP and the Liberals over the economy.
Asked by reporters about one exchange from the debate where he admitted the Canadian economy is on the verge of a recession after it shrank for five straight months, Harper said 80 per cent of the economy is healthy and growing, while the energy sector is contracting due to the drop in oil prices.
"We know there are ups and down," he said, urging voters to stick with the Conservatives' plan for the economy.
Harper also reflected very briefly on his performance Thursday night in the debate.
Harper talking Universal tax credit one day after debates. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/elxn42?src=hash">#elxn42</a> <a href="http://t.co/s7scA4Qheh">pic.twitter.com/s7scA4Qheh</a>—@HannahThibedeau
"I felt very good about the debate, but I'll leave it to pundits to do their own analysis," he said.
Harper was due to travel later in the day to Belleville, Ont.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May starts her day in Toronto giving media interviews before heading north to Thunder Bay, Ont., to campaign with local candidates.
With files from Cameron MacIntosh and The Canadian Press