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Leaders focus on gun violence, deficit spending, child care at campaign stops in Vancouver, Toronto

Last Updated Sep 30, 2019 at 5:10 pm PDT

(From left) Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan, Justin Tang, Chad Hipolito, Ryan Remiorz)

Federal leaders are fine-tuning their attacks on issues like firearms, deficits and child care

Both the Conservative and Liberal leaders are in the Toronto area

NPD and Green leaders are in Vancouver

Vancouver and Toronto are the hot spots for federal leaders Monday as they target key battlegrounds just a few days before Canadians cast their ballots.

The push in this second half of the race begins with leaders trying to simplify their messages and make an impact with voters — gun violence, defects, supports for people with disabilities and child care are in focus.

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Both Conservatives and Liberals are framing the election as a choice between two parties over two different issues.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is focused on fiscal responsibility as he tours the Toronto area.

“We must defeat Justin Trudeau now and elect a Conservative government that will live within its means,” he says. “Canadians can see exactly how we’ll get back to balanced budgets while leaving more money in their pockets.”

He is slamming the Liberals for a platform that will lead to deeper deficits.

“It’s a recipe for disaster. Out of control spending, huge deficits, massive debt that sucks away billions and billions in interest payments.”

Scheer is continuing with his campaign strategy of offering tax breaks to specific groups of Canadians, promising to make it easier for people with disabilities to access benefits.

Also in Toronto, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is trying to shine a spotlight on his party’s gun control efforts. Trudeau started the day with a round table with healthcare professionals, discussing the impacts of gun violence on communities. Some of his guests say more needs to be done, but Trudeau defends his plan, saying they are making efforts to tackle this problem.

“Conservative politicians want to weaken gun control, where we want to strengthen gun control. And that is at the heart of the choice that Canadians are facing in this upcoming election.”

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At the round table, he listened to poignant and forceful testimonials about the impact of rising gun violence. He says he has heard their heart-breaking stories.

“And that’s why we’re moving forward with significant gun control measures that will ban military-style assault weapons that have been used in mass shootings, increasingly in the United States but also in Canada. We’re also moving forward to give municipalities the power to restrict or ban handguns.”

Many of the doctors Trudeau heard from Monday morning back gun control laws, saying restricting access to firearms is one way to stop the rising flow of bloodied patients to their trauma centres.

Meantime, the New Democrats and Greens are focusing their efforts on Vancouver.

At a childcare centre in Vancouver, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is promising to spend $10 billion over four years to create 500,000 new childcare spaces across the country. He is also warning about being sold short by the Liberals.

“Mr. Trudeau is going to try to scare you to settle for less. You do not have to settle for less,” he says.

Singh points out the Liberals first promised affordable childcare 26 years ago.

“There are kids now that were born […] when this promise was first made, that are now grown up and need child care for their kids. That’s how long this promise has been going on.”

Singh says a right to accessible and affordable child care would be enshrined in law under an NDP government, to make sure care is available either at no cost, or a low cost of around $10 dollars per day for all families by 2030.

Elizabeth May is in Vancouver taking part in Orange Shirt Day, and spoke at the Canadian Club. The Green Leader has also taken shots at the other leaders’ environmental policies.

Polls show the Liberals and Conservatives in a dead heat for first, while the NDP and Greens are in a tight battle for third place.