September 10, 2019 / 6:01 PM / 11 days ago

Canada's Trudeau to launch formal campaign for October 21 election on Wednesday

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will formally launch the campaign for an Oct. 21 national election on Wednesday, according to a statement, setting up what opinion polls now indicate will be a tight race.

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacts as he walks to the podium to speak with reporters about a watchdog's report that he breached ethics rules by trying to influence a corporate legal case regarding SNC-Lavalin, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Andrej Ivanov

Trudeau will visit the Ottawa residence of Governor General Julie Payette, the acting head of state, to kick off the race on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT), the prime minister’s office said on Tuesday.

Under Canada’s fixed-date election law, federal votes must be held every four years. There had been speculation Trudeau would call the election as early as this past Sunday or as late as Sunday, Sept. 15, the latest day he could have made the move.

Polls show Trudeau’s Liberals are only just ahead of the official opposition Conservatives and could lose their majority in the House of Commons, leaving him in a weakened position.

Trudeau - who has suffered several scandals during his four-year tenure - will focus on the government’s economic record, said a senior Liberal. The unemployment rate is hovering around record lows, and the most recent growth data were much stronger than expected.

“We’re going to keep investing in Canadians and making life more affordable – so you can keep building a better future for your kids,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

The official start of the campaign means parties are capped on how much they can spend per candidate in each of the 338 parliamentary constituencies. The maximum overall amount per party is around C$28 million ($21.3 million).

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says he will make life more affordable for Canadians and accuses Trudeau of ramping up government expenditures to unsustainable levels.

“When voters head into the booth, I think they’re going to be thinking about ‘Who has my best interests at heart? Who can I trust to help me get ahead?’,” Conservative spokesman Brock Harrison said in an interview.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trudeau took a break from election planning to visit the Atlantic province of Nova Scotia, where 100,000 people were still without power after Storm Dorian hit on Saturday.

The Liberals won all 32 of the seats in parliamentary seats in the four Atlantic provinces in the 2015 federal election that brought Trudeau to power, but party insiders predict they will lose between eight and 10 of these next month.

Additional reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa; Eiting by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis

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