OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau issued a very pointed appeal to conservative-minded voters as he kicked off the final week of the campaign Monday with stops in areas captured by his opponents in the last election.
The Liberal leader's campaign bus rolled into suburban Ottawa, which voters painted blue four years ago, with a specific pitch to supporters of the former Progressive Conservatives.
Speaking to a room full of his own partisans, Trudeau offered praise for the now-defunct Progressive Conservative party and criticized the Stephen Harper Conservatives.
His attempt to woo red Tories came at a time when national polls suggested his Liberal campaign had been building momentum.
"Canada's proud Tory history has been abandoned by a party that has merely assumed a label and co-opted a political tradition," he said in the newly formed riding of Nepean, which was carved from a district held by the Tories.
"Most insulting of all for Progressive Conservatives is how casually and quickly their history has been abandoned.
"How swiftly Stephen Harper's Conservatives laid claim to a proud Canadian institution, then hollowed out its centre and replaced the heart with the divisive, secretive and fearful core."
Trudeau told the crowd of several hundred people that Conservatives are their neighbours, cousins and parents — not their enemies. He said they want a growing economy and safe communities just like they do.
He also credited past prime ministers from the Progressive Conservative party, which merged with the Harper-led Canadian Alliance in 2003, for not using wedge issues that divide people based on religion and citizenship.
"We don't need to convince them to leave the Conservative party, we just need to show them how Stephen Harper's party has left them," Trudeau said.
The Liberal leader started Thanksgiving morning Monday by picking pumpkins with his wife and their kids in a patch in the western Quebec riding of Pontiac — a district the New Democrats won from the Conservatives in the last election.
The Liberals finished a distant third there in 2011.
With some national polls suggesting Trudeau is the frontrunner, the Liberal leader's campaign was also scheduled to stop Monday in two other Ontario areas won by the Conservatives four years ago.
Trudeau had plans to meet locals at a Tim Hortons in a Napanee and to visit a Liberal campaign office for the riding of Northumberland-Peterborough South in the city of Port Hope.
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