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Canada election: Conservatives under fire over gun control – Al Jazeera English



Canada’s Conservative Party, which holds a slim lead in a tight electoral race, is facing mounting criticism for its stance on gun control after the Conservatives pledged to overturn a 2020 ban on some “assault-style” weapons.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has been pressed repeatedly this week over his campaign promise to overturn last year’s prohibition on weapons such as the AR-15, which was used by a gunman to kill 26 adults and children in the Sandy Hook massacre in the United States in 2012.

O’Toole declined to answer the questions directly, noting he plans to keep a separate 1977 ban on assault rifles.

“Erin O’Toole is willing to say anything to Canadians to get elected. He lied to Canadians about his plans to scrap the Liberal ban on assault weapons,” the Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said in a statement on Saturday.

Gun control is a sensitive issue in the country, especially in the French-speaking province of Quebec, where several deadly mass shootings have taken place over the past decades.

In the aftermath of a deadly attack in the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia last year, Trudeau in May announced a ban of more than 1,500 models and variants of “assault-style” firearms, including the AR-15.

“You do not need an AR-15 to take down a deer,” Trudeau said at that time. “So, effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade, assault weapons in this country.”

Liberal governments have over the years tightened gun control laws in Canada, but some conservative voters complain the measures are too restrictive and needlessly penalise farmers and hunters.

On Saturday, O’Toole told reporters in Vancouver that it was “very upsetting to see Mr Trudeau trying to import American-style politics, particularly on an issue of public safety”.

A big problem is weapons being smuggled in from the United States, said O’Toole, who is also promising a review of how weapons are classified as dangerous in Canada.

But the Conservatives’ position has been met with criticism not only from their Liberal rivals, but from gun control advocates, as well.

“Erin O’Toole is lying to Canadians when he says he will maintain ‘the ban’ on assault weapons,” said PolyRemembers, an advocacy group founded in the aftermath of a 1989 mass shooting at an engineering school in Montreal that killed 14 women.

Justin Trudeau on August 15 triggered a federal election two years earlier than scheduled [File: John Morris/Reuters]

In a statement on Friday, the group accused O’Toole of “playing with semantics” and failing to answer reporters’ questions about his party’s stance on the 2020 weapons ban.

“He’s talking about the decades-old ban on fully automatic weapons, knowing full well that reporters’ questions referred to the recent 2020 prohibitions. What he is doing is mirroring the gun lobby’s tactic of playing with semantics in order to avoid defending the indefensible,” it said.

The Conservatives have been making gains in recent weeks, as Trudeau’s decision to trigger a snap election two years earlier than scheduled angered some voters.

The Liberal leader, who had hoped his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic would lead the party to a renewed majority in parliament, has also faced large crowds of anti-masking and anti-vaccine protesters on the campaign trail.

An Ekos poll on Saturday found the Conservatives had 35 percent support, compared with 28.8 percent for the Liberals and 19.6 percent for the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP), headed by Jagmeet Singh.

CBC’s Poll Tracker, which aggregates public polling data in Canada, had the Conservatives with 34.1 percent support as of Saturday morning, while the Liberals held 31.2 percent and the NDP had 20.1 percent.

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Canadians have re-elected a Liberal minority government –



Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has won enough seats in this 44th general election to form another minority government — with voters signalling Monday they trust the incumbent to lead Canada through the next phase of the pandemic fight by handing him a third mandate with a strong plurality.

After a 36-day campaign and a $600-million election, the final seat tally doesn’t look very different from the composition of the House of Commons when it was dissolved in early August — prompting even more questions about why a vote was called during a fourth wave of the pandemic in the first place.

As of 2:30 a.m. ET, Liberal candidates were leading or elected in 157 ridings, the exact same number of seats that party won in the 2019 contest.

It’s a reversal of fortunes for Trudeau. He launched this campaign with a sizeable lead in the polls — only to see his support crater days later as many voters expressed anger with his decision to call an election during this health crisis. Two middling debate performances by Trudeau and renewed questions about past scandals also put a Liberal victory in question.

But in the end, voters decided the Liberal team should continue to govern a country that, while battered and bruised by a health crisis, has also fared well on key pandemic metrics like death rates and vaccine coverage.

PHOTOS | Images from party headqurters on election night: 

Trudeau called this election on Aug. 15, saying he wanted Canadians to weigh in on who should finish the fight against the pandemic and lead the country into a post-pandemic recovery. He promised a plan for child care, more aggressive climate action and a fix for Canada’s housing shortage.

In his victory speech in Montreal in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Trudeau said the result suggests Canadians are “sending us back to work with a clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic and to brighter days ahead.

“The moment we face demands real, important change, and you have given this Parliament and this government clear direction.”

After a divisive campaign that saw a great deal of partisan sniping, Trudeau struck a more conciliatory tone on election night when he spoke directly to opposition leaders and those who didn’t vote for a Liberal candidate.

“I hear you when you say you just want to get back to the things you love and not worry about this pandemic or about an election,” he said. “Your members of Parliament of all stripes will have your back in this crisis and beyond. Canadians are able to get around any obstacle and that is exactly what we will continue to do.”

O’Toole’s moderate conservatism falls short at the polls

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has missed his chance to unseat a prime minister who has faced his fair share of challenges during six years in office. O’Toole ran on a plan to boost health care spending, shrink the deficit over 10 years and tighten ethics rules for politicians — a more moderate take on conservatism that ultimately fell short.

The Conservatives are on track to win in 122 ridings — just one more seat than the party won under former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

Speaking to supporters in Oshawa, Ont., O’Toole said he had no plans to resign even though his party saw little if any growth in its vote share and seat count. He vowed to stay at the helm to take another swing at defeating Trudeau in the next election, which could come as soon as 2023.

“My family and I are resolute in continuing this journey for Canada,” O’Toole said. “If Justin Trudeau thinks he can threaten Canadians with another election in 18 months, the Conservative Party will be ready. Whenever that day comes, I will be ready to lead Canada’s Conservatives.

“We worked hard, we made progress, but the job is not done yet.”

WATCH: O’Toole suggests Trudeau will call another election

O’Toole suggests Trudeau will call another election

9 hours ago

Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole said in his concession speech Monday night that he anticipates Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will soon call another election since he did not get the majority he wanted. 1:08

O’Toole reaffirmed his commitment to take the party to the centre of the political spectrum even as it faces challenges on its right flank from the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).

“We must continue this journey of welcoming more Canadians to take another look at this party,” he said.

With Trudeau and the Liberals committed to progressive policies such as child care and new housing supports, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh ran even further to the left, promising a dramatic expansion of the federal government through $200 billion in new spending commitments for promises such as national pharmacare.

Singh vows to continue fight to make ‘super wealthy’ pay fair share

But Singh was criticized for putting out a platform with few details on how any of this transformative change would be implemented.

When all the ballots are counted, it could prove to be a disappointing night for Singh, with the NDP poised to pick up only two more seats than it won after the last vote. Singh may have more clout in Parliament to look forward to, however — a minority Liberal government will have to depend on at least one opposition party to help it pass its legislation.

Like O’Toole, Singh signalled he has no intention of stepping down as leader despite an underwhelming performance.

WATCH: ‘You can count on New Democrats to continue fighting for you,’ says Singh

‘You can count on New Democrats to continue fighting for you,’ says Singh after minor gains election night

8 hours ago

New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh says he congratulated Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on his victory but that his party will continue to press the Liberals on affordable housing, health care and the environment. 2:27

“Friends, I want you to know that our fight will continue. I also want you to know that we are going to keep on fighting to make sure that the super wealthy pay their fair share,” Singh said in his concession speech, referring to his signature election promise to make the “ultra rich” pay much more in taxes to help cover the cost of new social programs.

“To all of your struggling, we see you, we hear you,” Singh said.

Greens’ Paul loses but May poised for re-election

The Green vote collapsed and the party’s leader, Annamie Paul, finished a disappointing fourth in her Toronto Centre riding. For months, the party has been beset with internal squabbling and that hampered its electoral efforts.

But in the southwestern Ontario riding of Kitchener Centre, where the Liberal candidate dropped out amid allegations of harassment, Green candidate Mike Morrice was elected. The party’s former leader, Elizabeth May, was also re-elected in her B.C. riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Speaking to reporters in Toronto, Paul said she was disappointed to finish so poorly.

“It is hard to lose. No one likes to lose but I’m so proud of the effort,” she said.

WATCH: ‘No one likes to lose,’ Green Party Leader Annamie Paul says

‘No one likes to lose, but I’m so proud of the effort, the creativity, the innovation that our team brought to this race’: Paul

9 hours ago

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul speaks after 2021 election results in her losing race for Toronto Centre riding. 1:12

With more than 14.6 million votes counted so far, the Liberals have 32 per cent of the ballots cast, the Conservatives have about 34 per cent and the NDP has nearly 18 per cent of the vote share. The Green Party captured 2.3 per cent of the ballots cast so far, while the PPC has more than five per cent of all votes — a much better result than the 1.6 per cent of the national vote it fetched in the 2019 election.

PPC Leader Maxime Bernier — a libertarian who has long railed against government overreach — became a champion of the “no more lockdowns” crowd during the pandemic, routinely appearing at well-attended protests against public health measures.

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, with his wife, Catherine Letarte, speaks from a podium to supporters during the PPC headquarters election night event in Saskatoon on Sept. 20, 2021. (Liam Richards/The Canadian Press)

He is also vehemently opposed to vaccine passports — a position that appears to have given the PPC a boost among unvaccinated voters. But the improved showing failed to produce any seats in Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system. Bernier finished a distant second in his riding of Beauce, which was easily won by the Conservative incumbent, Richard Lehoux.

“This is not just a political party. This is a movement. It is an ideological revolution that we are starting now,” Bernier told supporters in Saskatoon.

The Liberals owe their re-election to strong performances in the country’s two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

Toronto and its surrounding suburbs — colloquially known as “the 905” after its area code — proved to be a resilient Liberal fortress; the Conservatives failed to make any significant gains among GTA voters. Only one of the area’s many seats, Thornhill, elected a Conservative MP. However, with votes still left to be counted, Liberal cabinet minister Deb Schulte was also in a tough fight in her riding of King-Vaughan.

Bloc looks headed for loss of 3 seats in Quebec

In Quebec, where the separatist Bloc Québécois is poised to lose one of the 32 seats it held in the last Parliament, the Liberal brand also performed well — although the Liberals were hoping for more gains there to vault it into majority government territory. 

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet during a news conference Sept. 18, with candidate Louis Sansfacon in Quebec City. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Trudeau cruised to victory in his own riding of Papineau. Other cabinet ministers, including François-Philippe Champagne in Quebec’s Saint-Maurice-Champlain and Mona Fortier in Ontario’s Ottawa-Vanier, also posted lopsided victories and were easily re-elected.

But at least one Liberal cabinet minister from Ontario, Maryam Monsef, went down to defeat. Monsef was easily bested by Conservative candidate Michelle Ferreri in the eastern Ontario riding of Peterborough-Kawartha — a seat that, until tonight, had a 40-year record as an election bellwether.

Liberal cabinet minister Bernadette Jordan loses her N.S. seat

While voters have returned a Liberal government to Ottawa, results from Atlantic Canada’s 32 seats suggest O’Toole’s more centrist brand of conservatism resonated in the region.

Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritimes have been a Liberal stronghold for the last two election cycles — the party swept every seat there in 2015 and dropped only five in 2019.

O’Toole, who has appointed a number of Maritimers to senior roles in the party, performed better than his recent predecessors in this region.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper was shut out of Atlantic Canada in 2015 while Scheer picked up only four seats in the 2019 contest.

Conservative candidates have been declared elected in seven of the region’s ridings. Conservative Rick Perkins has unseated Liberal incumbent Bernadette Jordan in the Nova Scotia riding of South Shore-St Margarets. Jordan served as fisheries minister in Trudeau’s cabinet.

The Conservative candidate in Cumberland-Colchester, Stephen Ellis, easily picked off Liberal incumbent Lenore Zann.

PHOTOS | Voters queue to cast their vote:

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Justin Trudeau projected to form Canada’s next government-CBC News projects



Canada‘s ruling Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to for the next government, CBC News projected on Monday, after a tight election race.

Elections Canada showed the Liberals leading in 146 electoral districts with only a small fraction of votes counted.





“This does look like a decisive win for the Liberals that essentially preserves the status quo and ensures that the fiscal spending plans that have supported the economy for the last year and half are likely to continue and continue to support growth.”

“The more supportive fiscal policy is, the more likely the Bank (of Canada) is able to move from tapering to rate hikes in the next year and a half, and certainly that is going to support the Canadian dollar.”


(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Denny Thomas)

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world Monday –



The latest:

COVID-19 has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 flu pandemic did — approximately 675,000.

The U.S. population a century ago was just one-third of what it is today, meaning the flu cut a bigger, more lethal swath through the country. But the COVID-19 crisis is by any measure a colossal tragedy in its own right, especially given the incredible advances in scientific knowledge since then and the failure to take maximum advantage of the vaccines available this time.

“Big pockets of American society — and, worse, their leaders — have thrown this away,” said medical historian Dr. Howard Markel, of the University of Michigan, of the opportunity to vaccinate everyone eligible by now.

Like the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, the coronavirus may never entirely disappear from our midst. Instead, scientists hope it becomes a mild seasonal bug as human immunity strengthens through vaccination and repeated infection. That could take time.

A person is administered a COVID-19 vaccine shot in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 15. (Gaelen Morse/Reuters)

“We hope it will be like getting a cold, but there’s no guarantee,” said Emory University biologist Rustom Antia, who suggests an optimistic scenario in which this could happen over a few years.

For now, the pandemic still has the United States and other parts of the world firmly in its jaws.

While a delta-fuelled surge in new infections may have peaked, U.S. deaths still are running at more than 1,900 a day on average, the highest level since early March, and the country’s overall death toll stood at just over 674,000 as of midday Monday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, though the real number is believed to be higher.

Winter may bring a new surge, with the University of Washington’s influential model projecting an additional 100,000 or so Americans will die of COVID-19 by Jan. 1, which would bring the overall U.S. toll to 776,000.

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic killed 50 million victims globally at a time when the world had one-quarter the population it does now. Global deaths from COVID-19 now stand at more than 4.6 million.

A nurse takes the pulse of a patient in the influenza ward of the Walter Reed hospital in Washington during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress/The Associated Press)

The 1918-19 flu’s death toll in the U.S. is a rough guess, given the incomplete records of the era and the poor scientific understanding of what caused the illness. The 675,000 figure comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before COVID-19, the 1918-19 flu was universally considered the worst pandemic disease in human history. It’s unclear if the current scourge ultimately will prove to be more deadly.

In many ways, the 1918-19 flu — which was wrongly named Spanish flu because it first received widespread news coverage in Spain — was worse.

In this 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross tend to influenza patients in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium, used as a temporary hospital. (Edward A. ‘Doc’ Rogers/Library of Congress)

Spread by the mobility of the First World War, it killed young, healthy adults in vast numbers. No vaccine existed to slow it, and there were no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections. And, of course, the world was much smaller.

Just under 64 per cent of the U.S. population has received as least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with state rates ranging from a high of approximately 77 per cent in Vermont and Massachusetts to lows around 46 to 49 per cent in Idaho, Wyoming, West Virginia and Mississippi.

Globally, about 43 per cent of the population has received at least one dose, according to Our World in Data, with some African countries just beginning to administer first shots.

What’s happening across Canada

A person wearing a face mask walks by a COVID-19 information sign after voting at a polling station in Montreal on Monday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

  • Masks mandatory in indoor N.B. public spaces as province sees record new cases.
  • Nova Scotia registers 55 new cases over Friday and the weekend.

What’s happening around the world

As of Monday, more than 228.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker. The reported global death toll stood at well over 4.6 million.

In Europe, Greece’s COVID-19 health advisory body has recommended expanding the country’s booster shot program to people aged 60 and older, care-home residents and health-care workers.

WATCH | Science uncertain about best approach to COVID-19 booster shots: 

Science uncertain about best approach to COVID-19 booster shots

13 days ago

Some immunocompromised Canadians are already receiving COVID-19 vaccine boosters, but the science is still unclear about whether everyone should get one in the near future or wait for one designed for the new variants circulating, including delta. 1:58

In Africa, authorities in Burundi have decided to suspend all social events except on Saturdays and Sundays as concerns grow about a rising number of COVID-19 infections.

In Asia-Pacific, New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, will remain in lockdown for at least two more weeks, although some restrictions will be eased from Tuesday.

In the Americas, the president of Costa Rica has warned that developing countries are at risk of sliding into instability without more pandemic aid from richer nations and the International Monetary Fund.

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