Meet the faces of Canada’s major party leaders and their poll promises

Canada is heading for federal elections on September 20. Take a look at the leaders of the major party leaders.

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Canada is heading for its 44th federal elections on Monday, September 20 before which leaders of federal parties campaigned on the issues of climate change, deepening the housing crisis and tackling the pandemic.

With stiff competition between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leading the liberal party and Erin O’Toole leading the Conservatives, they have been polling neck-to-neck. Jagmeet Singh of the democrats is in third place with an average of 20 per cent support.

Justin Trudeau

The 48-year old leader of the Liberal party is the current and 23rd Prime Minister of Canada who is in his second term after a 157 majority win of his party in the 2019 federal elections. His party came to power defeating the Conservative party which has been in power for almost a decade.

Trudeau kickstarted the snap elections in hope of securing a majority in the parliament with his handling of the COVID-19 and the economic stimulus plan. He primarily garners his support from Atlantic Canada as well as from pockets of Ontario and Quebec.

With a focus on healthcare, the Liberal’s election platform has promised to spend 78 billion Canadian dollars over the next five years. The party has also offered free COVID booster vaccination for all Canadians.

While the party faced strong criticism for backing the oil pipeline expansion project, it has promised to achieve net-zero emission by 2050.

Erin O’Toole

Leader of the opposition and the Conservative party of Canada since 2020, Erin O’Toole is a member of the parliament in the eastern Ontario riding of Durham.

The conservatives draw their primary support from the central Prairie province of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Parts of Ontario and Quebec also form a minor support base.

With a proposal of getting 30 per cent of all light-duty vehicle sales to be zero-emission by 2030, the Conservatives have promised to meet the original Paris Accord targets by reducing emissions to 30 per cent below 2005.

They have also promised billions of dollars in economic stimulus and growth that would balance the budget in 10 years “without cuts”.

On the pandemic front, O’Toole has promised implementation of a countrywide proof-of-vaccination system in tandem with provinces but is strongly opposed to the mandatory vaccination of federal employees.

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Yves-François Blanchet

Leader of the Bloc Quebecois party that labels itself as the “the only party” that promotes the interests of the French-speaking province’s interests at the federal level, Blanchet was a member of the Quebec legislature with the Parti Quebecois (PQ) from 2008-2014.

Representing the riding south of Montreal, the party increased its seats in parliament from 10 to 32 in 2019 under Blanchet’s leadership.

The party has faced several legal challenges in recent years for its Quebec Bill 21 that prohibits the wearing of religious symbols in public places.

If brought to power, the party has promised to create a “green equalisation” programme that would reward provinces that fight climate change effectively. Urging money to be re-allocated towards clean energy projects, the party has called for an end of fuel subsidies.

In terms of healthcare, the party has pledged to increase funding from 22 to 35 per cent for the provinces that control their respective health systems.

Annamie Paul

Paul, a 48-year old, is the first black Canadian and Jewish woman to lead the Green Party at the federal level after replacing its long time leader Elizabeth May.

Not being a member of parliament after losing a by-election in the riding of Toronto Centre in 2020, she is campaigning for the same seat in this election.

With the environment as the main focus of the party, it wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and a goal of net-negative by 2050. The party has called for a complete ban on the sale of “internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030” and also the cancelling of all pipeline projects.

The party has also called for the replacement of high-paying fossil fuel sector jobs with high-paying green sector jobs through wage insurance.

On the pandemic front, the party has promised to extend all wage and rent subsidies till all restrictions are lifted and to cap the business tax rate at 9 per cent.

On an international level, the party has talked about committing to signing and ratifying the treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, global nuclear disarmament and ending support for Canadian exporters in sale of fossil fuels and weapons.

Maxime Bernier

A former MP and cabinet minister from the Conservative party, Bernier is currently the leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) after his narrow loss in securing the party leadership of the Conservatives in 2017.

Currently, PPC does not have a candidate in the parliament and is polling at roughly 6 per cent support while drawing votes away from the Conservatives.

Its campaign on anti-immigration and anti-coronavirus has raked in most of its support from the far-right in Canada.

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Jagmeet Singh

Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada's left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP), has the fourth-largest number of seats in parliament. In 2017, the 42-year-old Punjab origin politician won the party leadership, making him Canada's first visible minority leader. He has served as the Ontario NDP's deputy leader before being elected to the Burnaby South seat in British Columbia in 2019.

The New Democratic Party advocates a $20 minimum wage for all federal employees, as well as ten days of paid sick leave. Singh recently slammed Trudeau for pledging paid sick leave during the election campaign but failing to implement it while in power. 

On the climate issue, the NDP has said it is committed to cut carbon emissions by half by 2030 and create over a million “good jobs” as part of a move that includes the construction of “green infrastructure” in communities around the country.

Speaking on indigenous rights, Jagmeet Singh's party has proposed developing a First Nations justice and policing strategy to address the disproportionate representation of Indigenous people in Canada's prison system. He has pledged to fully implement the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

To help stop the global pandemic, Singh and the New Democrats favour waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccinations and technological transfers.