U.S. Markets closed

Conservatives chant 'lock him up' about Justin Trudeau as Canada votes after 'nasty' election campaign

Charlie Mitchell
Justin Trudeau is fighting for a second term - REUTERS

Canadians head to the polls today following a feisty election campaign decried by embattled prime minister Justin Trudeau as one of the “nastiest” in Canadian history.

While campaigning in Richmond Hill, Ontario, over the weekend , Mr Trudeau’s main rival, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, vowed to get to the bottom of the SNC-Lavalin affair, an ethics scandal that has  gripped Mr Trudeau’s administration. 

In response, his supporters chanted: “Lock him up, lock him up,” regularly used by followers of Donald Trump in reference to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US presidential election .

Clearly embarrassed, Mr Scheer tried to start an alternative chant: “Vote him out, vote him out.”

Mr Trudeau, 47, a progressive champion who cruised to victory in 2015 promising a new type of politics, is battling to stay in office following suggestions he pressured his attorney-general to drop a criminal probe into Quebec engineering  company  SNC-Lavalin, and a blackface scandal.

Justin Trudeau is fighting for a second term Credit: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

He has blamed the Conservatives for lowering the tone and spreading disinformation, including erroneous claims that Mr Trudeau plans to raise the goods and services tax and legalise hard drugs.  

This month, Mr Trudeau spoke at a rally while wearing a bullet-proof vest  and accompanied by a tactical team,  following an unspecified security threat, before lamenting growing "polarisation" ahead of the election.

After a bitter campaign, Mr Trudeau and Mr Scheer are neck-and-neck in the polls with 31 per cent and 31.5 per cent respectively. Only Mr Trudeau, has potential coalition partners, in the form of the Left-wing NDP,  polling at 19 per cent, and the fourth-place Green Party.

The vitriol that has characterised this campaign, which has emphasised not issues but values and personalities, reflects how partisan Canada’s electorate has become.

“We are only two more days away from getting rid of Justin Trudeau’s scandal-plagued, tax-hiking, deficit running, law-breaking government,” Mr Scheer, 40, told a rally on Saturday.

Mr Trudeau’s Liberals, for their part, have dug up videos of Mr Scheer denouncing same sex marriage in 2005 and sitting during a rendition of  O Canada in parliament three years ago, after  MP s voted to make the national  anthem gender neutral.

Many voters have been disappointed by the mud-slinging, as well as Mr Trudeau’s broken promises on the environment and electoral reform.

But Mr Scheer, with his pro-pipeline agenda and "pro-life" views has failed to break through, creating one of the most unpredictable races in recent memory .