Erin O'Toole may upset Justin Trudeau, even as Canada remains a staunchly liberal country

Erin O’Toole, a military veteran and a Conservative Party member of Parliament for nine years, once called himself a “true-blue conservative,” but he’s been swiftly pushing the party to the center in a bid to replace Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a campaigning for Canada’s snap federal election. Despite criticism that the former lawyer would say and do anything to get elected, polls show O’Toole’s Conservatives could defeat Trudeau’s Liberal Party on Monday.

O’Toole’s strategy, which has included disavowing positions held dear by his party’s base on issues such as climate change, guns and balanced budgets, is designed to appeal to a broader cross-section of voters in a country that tends to be far more liberal than its southern neighbor. Whether moderate Canadians believe O’Toole is the progressive conservative he claims to be has become a central question of the election campaign.

“O’Toole tells Conservative friends what he’s really going to do and pretending to Canadians something completely different,” Trudeau said during a campaign stop in Montreal on Thursday. “Whether it’s been on guns, on the environment or whether its been on vaccines, Mr. O’Toole has been misleading Canadians, not leading.”

A Conservative win would represent a rebuke of Trudeau, 49, who called the election despite the pandemic in hopes of shoring up his minority government but now is at risk of losing office to the head of the opposition, a politician with a fraction of the name recognition.

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