Canada’s four major party leaders face-off in debate as Trudeau fights for re-election

Leaders of four of Canada’s major political parties—the Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic and Bloc Quebecois parties— will square off in

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Photo: David Bloom/Postmedia

Leaders of four of Canada’s major political parties—the Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic and Bloc Quebecois parties— will square off in a French-language debate in Montreal today, ahead of elections slated for October 21.

The elections are effectively a referendum on PM Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party’s governance. In 2015, Trudeau ran on bold promises of liberal reform, like implementing a carbon tax, bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees within weeks of taking office and overhauling Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system.

However, the son of ex-PM Pierre Trudeau has faced considerable opposition and criticism since his premiership began. The SNC-Lavalin affair, criticisms from fellow liberals on failed environmental and electoral policy reforms and the recent brownface image controversy have all eaten away at Trudeau’s popularity. A recent poll shows the incumbent’s approval rating at just 33%.

Canada is at a crossroads. Trudeau came to power after nearly a decade of governance by Conservative Stephen Harper. If Canadian voters express their dissatisfaction with the Liberals at the ballot box, a return to Conservative governance—under the similarly youthful and charismatic leadership of Andrew Scheer—or the formation of a new coalition between the Liberals and the more leftist New Democrats could quickly put an end to the Trudeau era.

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