Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is standing by four of his candidates who Liberals charge have made inappropriate comments in the past, saying they have apologized.
Speaking to reporters in an unexpected scrum on his plane travelling from Ottawa to Vancouver late Saturday night, Mr. Scheer said the Conservative Party is “very confident with the scrutiny” the party undertook in vetting candidates.
Mr. Scheer’s comments come after the fourth day the Liberals released videos and remarks made by Conservative candidates that Mr. Scheer has visited in the early days of the campaign, and which the Liberals say shows he’s embracing intolerant people into his party.
“As long as someone takes responsibility for what they’ve said, and addresses the fact that in 2019 some things that may have been said in the past are inappropriate today, that anything they’ve ever said in the past caused any type of hurt or disrespect to one community or another and have apologized for that, I accept that,” Mr. Scheer said.
So far this campaign, all parties have been the subjects of political attacks over past social media comments made by their candidates. The Liberals ousted a Quebec candidate because of concerns raised by Jewish groups; an NDP candidate in B.C. stepped down because of unspecified “problematic” posts; and the Greens kicked out a candidate in Ontario over an online comment aimed at Muslims.
Earlier on Saturday, Mr. Scheer was campaigning with Conservative candidate Justina McCaffrey in Kanata, which was meant to be a low-key campaign day, but ended with Ms. McCaffrey leaving the event before it was over and refusing to answer questions from reporters.
Liberal MPs Mélanie Joly and Maryam Monsef, who are also members of the Liberal cabinet, had posted videos online of Ms. McCaffrey. In one she tells a reporter she is bothered by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s “preoccupation with the French, for example, the Quebec people.”
In the other, she pitches a reality television show with far-right political commentator Faith Goldy, who was banned by Facebook for spreading hate.
Ms. McCaffrey apologized on Twitter for her comments about Quebec, saying she regretted her poor choice of words and respects both official languages. She said in a statement released by the Conservative Party that the video with Ms. Goldy is from 2013 and that she hasn’t seen her for “several years.” There is a photo of the pair online from 2017.
Mr. Scheer told reporters that he finds things said and done by Ms. Goldy in the recent past “intolerant” and that he wants nothing to do with it. He said he understands they have not had contact in “quite some time” and that Ms. McCaffrey has addressed it.
Mr. Scheer is in a tight national race with Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. The latest nightly tracking poll from Nanos-Globe and Mail-CTV shows the Liberals at 35 per cent, the Conservatives at 32 per cent, the NDP at 17 per cent, the Greens at 10 per cent, and the People’s Party of Canada at 2 per cent. The Bloc Québécois were at 17 per cent in Quebec.
The Liberal lead in the poll is about equal to the margin of error.
The survey was conducted by Nanos Research and was sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CTV. 1,200 Canadians were surveyed between Sept. 12 and 14, 2019. The margin of error is 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were asked: “If a federal election were held today, could you please rank your top two current local voting preferences?” A report on the results, questions and methodology for this and all surveys can be found at https://tgam.ca/election-polls.
The Liberals flagged to journalists earlier this week that the Conservative candidate in Mississauga-Streetsville, Ghada Melek, was reportedly rejected by the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, but Mr. Scheer has said he believed she withdrew from the race. Ms. Melek was seeking the provincial nomination for the 2018 vote when Islamophobic tweets had surfaced.
Mr. Scheer said Ms. Melek has “accepted responsibility for what she said,” and that she has declared her support for people of all faiths and backgrounds.
Arpan Khanna, the Conservative candidate for Brampton-North, apologized for comments he made when he was a teenager after a Liberal MP tweeted a screenshot of a homophobic comment he made years ago.
The Conservative leader was also forced to clarify his position on abortion after Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, the Liberals’ Crown-Indigenous relations minister, tweeted a two-year-old video of his candidate for York Centre espousing strong anti-abortion views.
In the video, Rachel Willson said she was “shocked” to learn that Canada has no legal restriction on abortion and that she is part of a “no not this one” prayer campaign, which involves trying to find the names of women who are considering having an abortion.
“We have a group of intercessors, who, when we catch word either from a pregnancy centre or a person who has a friend, or however that information comes to us, when we catch word of someone who is considering abortion, you can contact us and let us know,” Willson said in the video.
Turning his attention back to his opponent, Mr. Scheer said that Mr. Trudeau “has still failed to condemn” remarks made by one of his own candidates who tried to hide anti-Semitic comments. Mr. Scheer was talking about an Imam who was running for the Liberals in Montreal, Hassan Guillet, until the end of August. He was ousted by the party for comments he made about Israel, and another that “Zionists control American politics.”
When asked if he is worried about the Liberals releasing more embarrassing footage and comments of candidates, Mr. Scheer said the party will address the situation on a “case-by-case” basis, and raised that the party recently turfed a candidate from Winnipeg after it was revealed he hid Facebook accounts where he made discriminatory comments.
Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 21.
With files from The Canadian Press
Incumbents hold onto Vancouver seats
The Liberals and NDP held onto some key seats in Metro Vancouver on election night, while the Conservatives swept the Fraser Valley, taking back some seats lost four years ago.
The political map for the Lower Mainland turned out to be a colourful one, with blobs of orange, red and blue, plus just a hint of grey in Vancouver Granville, where former cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould held onto her seat as an independent.
Overall, there were fewer changes on election night in the Lower Mainland than many other places in Canada: In 20 of 26 electoral districts, the incumbent party — or candidate, in the case of Wilson-Raybould — were leading or elected, with a few close races going late into the night.
There were, however, a few suburban areas where voters decided to switch back to the Conservative Party, following a 2015 election where the Liberals won ridings in which they historically weren’t competitive.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh kept his seat in Burnaby South, while incumbent New Democrats Jenny Kwan, Don Davies and Peter Julian held onto theirs in the party’s strongholds of Vancouver East, Vancouver Kingsway and New Westminster-Burnaby.
The Liberals kept their seats in Vancouver Centre, Vancouver Quadra, Vancouver South, North Vancouver, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, Burnaby North-Seymour, Delta, Surrey Centre, Surrey-Newton, Fleetwood-Port Kells and Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam.
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Conservative incumbent Alice Wong won the riding of Richmond Centre, while the Tories stole seats from the Liberals in South Surrey-White Rock, Cloverdale-Langley City and Steveston-Richmond East, and from the NDP in Port Moody-Coquitlam.
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South Surrey-White Rock’s Kerry-Lynne Findlay, who will be returning to Ottawa as a Conservative MP after a four-year absence, told CBC she’s optimistic despite being in opposition for the first time.
“I know how to navigate in Ottawa. I know how to speak up for B.C. and the Lower Mainland,” she said. “It’s important that the people who go to Ottawa from as far away as we live, that they go with passion and energy.”
Wilson-Raybould, at one time the Liberal justice minister, won Vancouver Granville after a tight three-way race with her opponents in the Liberal and Conservative parties.
Conservatives sweep through Fraser Valley
Further east in the Fraser Valley, incumbent Conservatives were returned in Abbotsford, Langley-Aldergrove and Chilliwack-Hope.
The party also picked up seats from the Liberals in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon and Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge.
Nationwide, the Liberals under Justin Trudeau held on to just enough seats in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario to secure a minority government after a tight campaign that saw the two leading parties struggle to break out of the pack.
While final ballots are still being counted in several ridings, the Liberals are expected to win 156 seats and form a minority government.
With no single party holding a majority of votes in the House of Commons, longtime Vancouver Centre Liberal Hedy Fry said co-operation will be key for her party.
“We as Liberals have to be able to work with others who share our values and, of course, those values could be things like health care, mental health, addictions as a public health issue, housing, helping the middle class and helping get children out of poverty,” she told CBC.
“If we can find people who share those values, we’re prepared to work with anyone.”
Doug Ford congratulates Trudeau on election win
Ford issued a statement Tuesday morning congratulating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his victory and applauding all federal leaders for a “hard fought campaign.”
He says he looks forward to working with Ottawa to address “shared priorities,” including infrastructure, internal trade and mental health.
He also praised Trudeau’s commitment to helping fund the provincial government’s planned “Ontario Line” subway project that would ease congestion in Toronto’s transit system.
Ford’s statement stands out for its conciliatory tone, particularly in light of how much the Ontario premier was a target of Liberal criticism throughout the campaign.
Trudeau had repeatedly invoked Ford’s name and policy decisions when warning of the potential consequences of a Conservative election win.
Liberals look to hold N.S. seats as other parties seek electoral breakthroughs
Four years ago, Sean Fraser was part of a Liberal team that surfed a red wave to a majority government.
There was no wave on Monday night as Fraser faced a star challenger in the form of country musician and Conservative candidate George Canyon. But in the end it didn’t matter — Fraser is headed back to Ottawa to represent the riding of Central Nova after pulling in more than 46 per cent of the vote.
“I used to play a lot of basketball growing up and I remember the games where we beat a good team by two a lot more than I remember the ones where we beat up on a small school by 40,” he said in a telephone interview.
“And this feels like we beat a good team by a healthy margin. It wasn’t just a star candidate. It was tens of thousands of dollars that they poured into Facebook ads, radio ads, TV ads, a visit from the leader. And we pulled it off in any event.”
Fraser wasn’t the only Nova Scotia Liberal re-elected Monday night, part of an effort that saw the party earn a minority government in the House of Commons.
Andy Fillmore was re-elected as MP for Halifax, Darren Fisher was re-elected in Dartmouth-Cole Harbour and Darrell Samson will return as MP for Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook.
Bernadette Jordan — a cabinet minister in the Trudeau government — will return as MP in South Shore-St. Margarets and Geoff Regan, perhaps the surest electoral bet in Nova Scotia, returns as MP for Halifax West.
Fisher said he was humbled by his second victory, as well as by the 100 volunteers who greeted him as he arrived at a victory party.
“It’s an overwhelming feeling when you run for election and you see the effort and the work that’s put in by people that care about you, but also people that care about their community,” he said.
Jordan said she was thrilled by her win.
“We’re going to have a good night tonight and then tomorrow we’ll start all over again,” she said.
Fillmore said he took nothing for granted during the campaign.
“I’m just ecstatically grateful for the people of Halifax to send me to Ottawa to represent them for another term.”
Conservatives take West Nova
While the Liberals won all 11 Nova Scotia ridings in 2015, they didn’t run the table this year.
Former Progressive Conservative MLA Chris d’Entremont flipped the traditional swing riding of West Nova back to the Conservatives.
Provincially, d’Entremont has been used to easy wins. Monday was much more hard-fought, with just a few percentage points separating him from Liberal challenger Jason Deveau.
“There’s a lot more work that goes into this, but I can tell you over the last few hours I think I’ve never been more stressed,” d’Entremont said in a phone interview.
As the dust settles on the election, d’Entremont said he’s hoping everyone takes stock of the campaign and tries to dial back the rhetoric that, at times, was nasty all across the country.
“I’m going to try my best to work around, I would say, that mean-spiritedness that goes amongst all the parties,” he said.
“I’ve shown as an MLA that I’ve been able to work across party lines, that I’ve gotten things done for my area, and, you know, I really think that we just need to all take a step back and consider what happened during this election.”
Historic first win
Jaime Battiste overcame controversy during the campaign related to racist and sexist social media posts from a few years ago to become Nova Scotia’s first Indigenous MP and hold Sydney-Victoria for the Liberals, defeating a slate of candidates that included former Tory MLA Eddie Orrell.
The resident of Eskasoni First Nation holds a seat made vacant following the retirement of longtime Liberal MP Mark Eyking. He is also now the first Mi’kmaw MP in the House of Commons.
Battiste said he believes his was the most diverse campaign in the province, focusing on people from all backgrounds.
“I am really happy to be the winner today and I am going to work hard every day to show Canadians, not only Cape Breton, that I won this for a reason,” he said.
“I believe in Canada, I believe in reconciliation, I believe in diversity and these are the things I ran on,” Battiste said.
Addressing his controversial social media posts, Battiste said all he can do is apologize and move forward.
“I’ve always been a person who believes in diversity and who believes in equal rights.”
Long night for Zann
The last race of the night to be called was also the closest, with Liberal candidate Lenore Zann holding Cumberland-Colchester for the Grits.
Zann topped Conservative candidate Scott Armstrong, himself a former MP for the riding, for a seat that was up for grabs following the retirement of Nova Scotia political legend Bill Casey.
“Wow, what a roller-coaster ride,” said Zann, calling it the most fun campaign she’s run.
Zann was previously an NDP MLA who resigned to run federally.
Zann said she believes a minority government where the Liberals govern with the support of the NDP and Greens will be healthy for the country.
“In many countries, what we call hung parliaments, or minorities, work very well.”
Fresh faces in Ottawa
First-time winner Kody Blois didn’t have to wait nearly as long in holding the riding of Kings-Hants for the Liberals.
The young lawyer, running in his first federal election, won the seat that essentially belonged to longtime MP Scott Brison, who announced his retirement from politics earlier this year.
Moments after arriving at what amounted to a victory party, Blois said it was a “surreal” and “incredible” feeling.
They’ll be joined in Ottawa by fellow first-time Liberal winner Mike Kelloway, who continues a Liberal hold on the Cape Breton-Canso seat following the retirement of veteran MP Rodger Cuzner. Kelloway bested a field of six other candidates that included former Tory MLA Alfie MacLeod.
Kelloway called for unity in his victory speech.
“No matter what sign you had on your lawn, right now we are all one community and that is the way we will need to move forward,” he said.
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NASA spacewalk: Watch the historic moment astronauts leave ISS on all-female spacewalk – Express.co.uk
Incumbents hold onto Vancouver seats
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