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Published: 12:37, September 09, 2021
Canada PM accuses main rival of favoring abortion curbs, gun lobby
By Reuters
Published:12:37, September 09, 2021 By Reuters

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole, left, and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau discuss a point during the federal election French-language leaders debate, in Gatineau, Quebec, Sept 8, 2021. (SEAN KILPATRICK / THE CANADIAN PRESS VIA AP)

OTTAWA - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, facing a possible election defeat, on Wednesday lashed out at his main rival, accusing him of favoring restrictions on abortion and wanting to loosen gun controls.

Opinion polls show the right-leaning Conservatives of Erin O'Toole could win the Sept 20 vote, ending six years of rule by the left-of-center Liberals.

Erin O'Toole of the Conservative Party retorted that the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would "say anything to win" and said he was in favor of abortion rights

At the end of an otherwise unremarkable two-hour leaders' debate in French, Trudeau said O'Toole had sided with the gun lobby and wanted to overturn a Liberal ban on assault weapons.

ALSO READ: Trudeau on defensive over poll call, few big blows at 1st debate

He also said dozens of Conservative Parliamentarians had voted in favor of draft legislation to curb abortions that was defeated in the House of Commons in June.

"Mr O'Toole refused to tell Canadians what he wants to do. 

He signs deals with special interest groups," Trudeau said. "He is offering weak leadership ... he can't be trusted."

O'Toole, who has consistently attacked Trudeau's decision to call a snap election during the COVID-19 pandemic, retorted that the Liberal leader would "say anything to win" and said he was in favor of abortion rights.

Last Sunday O'Toole scrapped a campaign promise to eliminate a ban on some assault weapons after Trudeau accused him of cozying up to the gun lobby.

Trudeau called the election two years ahead of schedule as a referendum on his handling of the pandemic but has struggled to overcome voter fatigue.

READ MORE: Trudeau to gamble on economic rebound in likely Sept snap vote

Wednesday's two-hour debate was the second and final one to be held in French, which is predominantly spoken in Quebec. The province accounts for 78 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons and is crucial for any party seeking office.

The leaders will hold another debate on Thursday in English, the language spoken by two-thirds of Canada's 38 million population. An Ipsos Research poll for Global News on Wednesday put the Conservatives at 35 percent public support, with the Liberals at 32 percent and the left-leaning New Democrats at 21 percent.

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