The Latest: Federal party leaders kick off election campaign

OTTAWA — The latest developments as federal party leaders kick off campaigning for the Oct. 21 election (all times Eastern):

2 p.m.

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Maxime Bernier is styling his upstart People's Party of Canada as espousing principles-based, smart populism that appeals to intelligence, not emotion.

Bernier tells a room full of supporters how he would cut foreign aid, among other spending changes, to balance the budget within two years, if elected to govern.

Polls suggest that isn't likely, though Bernier says the party will surprise people on Oct. 21.

Bernier says he has a tax-reform package that will help Canadians save $35 billion, plans to reduce immigration levels, and will scrap the supply-management system in Canada's dairy sector as part of a platform very different from that of any other party.

The Quebec MP broke from the Conservatives last year, not long after losing the party's leadership by the narrowest of margins to Andrew Scheer.

He says the People's Party will have candidates in all 338 ridings and he continues to push for a place in the official leaders' debates early next month.

1:30 p.m.

Andrew Scheer says it's time to elect a government that helps Canadians get ahead, telling supporters at an outdoor rally in Trois-Rivieres, Que., that the countdown to getting rid of the Trudeau government is officially underway.

Scheer says Justin Trudeau will only raise taxes, adding that the Liberal leader doesn't know what it's like to raise a family under difficult conditions.

He promises to get rid of the Harmonized Sales Tax on heating bills and pledges a single tax return for voters in Quebec, where differences between the federal and provincial governments make filing more complicated than elsewhere in the country.

The Conservative election platform, Scheer says, will have other measures to help voters get ahead and lower the cost of living.

He also takes aim at the Bloc Quebecois, arguing the party won't be able to replace the Liberals.

A small group of protesters carrying public-sector union signs tried to disrupt Scheer's speech, sparking pro-Scheer chants from the crowd until the demonstrators were ultimately asked to leave by police.

12:30 p.m.

Green party Leader Elizabeth May says the Oct. 21 vote is the most important election in Canadian history.

Speaking to a packed room in Victoria, where many gathered very early in the morning on the West Coast, May says her party will talk about the scope of the climate emergency not to scare voters, but to inform them.

Her party is hoping to capitalize on interest in tackling climate change, as well as a growing number of Green politicians elected in recent provincial votes.

May says her party is also going to talk about free tuition for post-secondary students, child care and pharmacare, among other issues, during the campaign.

Facing questions from reporters, she says the Green party won't trample on women's right to safe and legal abortions.

She also says her party doesn't support Quebec separatism, adding that NDP-turned-Green candidate Pierre Nantel is not a separatist despite his comments to an internet radio show that he would vote in favour of the province leaving Canada in a referendum.

11:35 a.m.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Fancois Blanchet says voters in Quebec have flirted with three parties in recent years none of whom has done enough for the province.

The Bloc are hoping to improve on the 10 seats they have in the House of Commons after watching voters back the Conservatives, NDP and Liberals over the last three elections.

Blanchet rolls through a list of federal issues in the province: a single tax rate in Quebec that the federal government has rejected, concerns about the amount of work the Davie shipyard has received, and secularism.

The province's secularism law, which prevents public workers from wearing religious symbols, has taken on a larger presence in the election and Blanchet touches on it in his campaign kickoff speech.

Earlier in the day, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he didn't believe it was productive for the federal government to get involved in a legal challenge of Bill 21, while Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said such a bill is not something his party would ever consider at the federal level.

Trudeau and Scheer also said they would stand up for Canadians' rights.

11:15 a.m.

Jagmeet Singh says the election comes down to a clear question for voters: Who can you count on?

The NDP leader believes the answer is him, telling supporters he plans to talks about providing services like pharmacare and dental care, vision care and mental health services, but only by taking on "lobbyists" and "corporate interests."

Singh says Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will say one thing on the campaign trail, but then do something else behind closed doors once in office.

The bulk of the NDP platform has been out for months, including putting a tax on the super wealthy to pay for some of the party's promises.

Singh is in London, Ont., and speaking about his time in the city and some of the difficulties he faced and the people who helped him through it, reminding him that Canadians believe in taking care of each other.

He also says how as a child, he never imagined that someone who looked like him could one day run to be prime minister and now he has kids coming up to him saying they believe they can do anything.

10:55 a.m.

Justin Trudeau says Canadians get to vote for the kind of Canada they want to live in next month — by giving his party another term, or taking a step back with the Conservatives.

After emerging from Rideau Hall, the Liberal leader spoke about how poverty rates have dropped and job creation is on the rise and attributes both to his party's policies, including the Canada Child Benefit.

He says politics is, at the end of the day, about people, and voters deserve a real plan for their future.

Trudeau began his first remarks of the campaign by recalling the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

But in taking questions, the SNC-Lavalin affair took top billing.

Asked what his government is hiding, Trudeau says his office gave the largest waiver of cabinet confidences in Canadian history but added nothing more.

10:05 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has arrived at Rideau Hall with his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau to meet with Gov. Gen. Julie Payette and formally start the campaign.

Trudeau will ask Payette to dissolve Parliament and call for a general election, which the law says must be held Oct. 21.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is in London, Ont. to launch his party's campaign, while Green Leader Elizabeth May is joining candidates for an early-morning rally in Victoria, B.C.

In a statement, May says the campaign comes at a "pivotal point in history," adding that climate change is on the minds of many voters.

She makes a pitch for voters to back her party and elect MPs who won't "back down, compromise or waffle."

There also appears to be the first hiccup of the campaign: the weather has forced Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer's campaign plane to fly instead to Quebec City and bus to Trois-Rivieres, Que., for his first rally.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is taking aim at Justin Trudeau over the SNC-Lavalin affair ahead of the prime minister's visit to Rideau Hall to officially launch the federal election campaign.

Scheer is calling Trudeau a "liar," arguing the Liberal leader has lost the moral authority to govern and saying his goal for the next five weeks is to convince Canadians of that.

Much of his attack arises from a report in the Globe and Mail that cabinet confidentiality is preventing people from speaking to the RCMP as the force considers a possible investigation into obstruction of justice.

With the Conservative campaign plane behind him, Scheer also says he plans to spend the next five weeks or so talking to Canadians about the Tories' platform.

Scheer is now off to Trois-Rivieres, Que., for his first campaign event.

Trudeau is scheduled to arrive at Rideau Hall at 10 a.m. to ask the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and call for a general election.

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