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BRIAN LILLEY: Team Trudeau woos, or is that scares, voters to cast ballot for them

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, back centre, talks with members of the Canadian Coast Guard after an announcement at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base, in Vancouver, on Monday July 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, back centre, talks with members of the Canadian Coast Guard after an announcement at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base, in Vancouver, on Monday July 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

You could call it a full court press by the Trudeau cabinet.

The PM and his ministers have been spreading out across the country on campaign-like stops making funding announcements or election-style stops in communities across the country. Particularly in communities the Liberals need to win in the upcoming election.

Good thing these ministers aren’t in charge of running important departments or anything like that.

Justin Trudeau himself emerged from a week-long vacation in British Columbia for campaign-like stops in Vancouver. The claimed reason for Trudeau’s visit was the completion of a coast guard base in Vancouver.

Sure it’s been announced before, more than once I’m told, but why not announce it again so that taxpayers can pick up the tab for Trudeau’s travel and attendance at the party fundraiser rather than having the party pay for any of it.

Also in Vancouver was Small Business Minister Mary Ng, Public Works Minister Carla Qualtrough was in Gatineau in Quebec, Veterans Affairs Minister Laurence MacAulay was in Hamilton, Ont., Bill Morneau was talking finance in Oakville, Ont., and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was in the Toronto area.

And that’s just a sampling of the last few days.

Make no mistake that this is all about campaigning. McKenna made that clear as she used her announcement and media appearances to attack Ontario’s PC government and Premier Doug Ford.

Appearing on Toronto’s Newstalk 1010 to discuss investments in electric buses and charging stations for Brampton’s transit system, McKenna couldn’t stop taking runs at Ford. McKenna made the false claim that “Conservative politicians don’t seem to accept the science behind climate change.”

Asked if the infrastructure is there for a strong uptake in electric vehicles or if the grid can handle widespread electric vehicle use, McKenna turned to attacking Ford again.

I’ve been saying for sometime now that campaigning against Doug Ford is a major part of the Liberal re-election strategy. And it’s not just to win seats in Ontario, but anywhere they think they can run against Ford’s unpopularity, real or perceived.

The tactic isn’t so much about winning over Conservative voters who might be turned off by Ford. In fact, I think all the Ford bashing could galvanize Conservative support.

This is a tactic aimed at trying to get as many progressive and left-wing voters inside the Liberal tent as possible. The Conservative vote is pretty solid. Several polls have shown that those planning to back Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives are the least likely to change their minds between now and October 21.

Making Ford the bogeyman is all about scaring NDP and Green voters into backing the Liberals.

It’s strange to watch a first-term government run against someone else, never mind someone who isn’t even on the ballot. In 1997 when Jean Chretien was seeking his second mandate from voters, he ran on his own record and won. In 2008 and 2011, Stephen Harper ran on his record and won.

It’s true that both men also used negative ads against their opponents but they also ran on their records.

In this case, Trudeau is campaigning not on what he has done, but to scare voters about what a provincial premier might do if someone else is elected.

It’s sad if this is how we elect governments in this day and age, but the scary part is it just might work.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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