The niqab and ‘old-stock Canadians’: Memorable events from the 2015 federal election

OTTAWA -The 42nd federal election has been one of the longest in Canadian history and voters are headed to the polls Monday.

The 78-day campaign has seen relentless rallies, nearly 10,000 televised attack ads, debates over controversial issues, and the resignation of several candidates.

Here’s a look back at some of the memorable moments during the marathon campaign.

READ MORE: Last-minute voters’ guide

Aug. 2: Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces he has asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament, triggering a campaign for the Oct. 19 election billed as one of the longest – and most costly – in modern Canadian political history.

“Canadians will make a critical decision about the direction of our country, a decision with real consequences, a decision about who has the proven experience today to keep our economy strong and our country safe.” – Harper.

Story continues below advertisement
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, left, shakes hands with Conservative leader Stephen Harper as Green party leader Elizabeth May and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair embrace following the first leaders debate Thursday, August 6, 2015 in Toronto.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, left, shakes hands with Conservative leader Stephen Harper as Green party leader Elizabeth May and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair embrace following the first leaders debate Thursday, August 6, 2015 in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Aug. 6: Harper’s economic and environmental records comes under fire during the televised Maclean’s debate as NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Green party Leader Elizabeth May took aim at the Conservative leader’s nine-year tenure.

“You have completely become disconnected from the reality that people are facing right across this country.” – Trudeau to Harper.

Aug. 12: Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, begins his testimony at the criminal trial of Sen. Mike Duffy, telling court he informed Harper that Duffy agreed to repay his impugned expense claims, but did not disclose there was a plan afoot for the party to foot the bill.

“I did not believe Mr. Duffy’s expenses could be justified and I thought he should repay them. And Mr. Wright was working with Mr. Duffy to make sure he did repay them. That’s what we were told was going to happen.” – Harper.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Liberals pull ahead of Tories for first time, projected to win most seats

Aug. 17: With the Duffy courtroom drama playing out in Ottawa, Harper faces pointed questions about his current chief of staff, Ray Novak, after it emerged he was included on the email chain about Wright’s plan to repay the senator’s expenses.

“Mr. Harper has not been truthful with Canadians. That has become abundantly clear from the emails that have been released and Canadians deserve better.” – Mulcair.


A courtroom sketch of Nigel Wright testifying in the trial of Mike Duffy on Aug. 17, 2015 in Ottawa. (Global News/Greg Banning)
Nigel Wright, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, arrives at the Ottawa courthouse in Ottawa Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 to testify at the Mike Duffy trial. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Former Conservative Senator Mike Duffy leaves the courthouse in Ottawa Aug. 19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Nigel Wright, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper leaves the Ottawa Courthouse after testifying at the Mike Duffy trial in Ottawa, Tuesday August 18, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Donald Bayne, left, lawyer for former Conservative senator Mike Duffy, cross examines Nigel Wright, former Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, at the Mike Duffy trial in Ottawa, on Friday, August 14, 2015 in this artist's sketch. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning)
Nigel Wright, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, arrives at the courthouse in Ottawa on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015 for his second day of testimony at the criminal trial of embattled Sen. Mike Duffy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Aug. 22: Tory supporter Earl Cowan becomes angry with reporters on the Conservative campaign trail after they asked Harper about what was happening inside the Prime Minister’s Office during the Mike Duffy affair.

“You’re making an issue out of Duffy; he’s a nothing. Harper has produced good government … I think you’re a piece of lying s**t and your media with you … go stuff yourself.” – Cowan

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Pro-Harper supporter calls reporter ‘a lying piece of s***’

Aug. 27: Trudeau declares that a Liberal government would run deficits of up to $10-billion a year for three years until 2019 to help kick-start the economy.

“Our plan will be the most significant new investment in our infrastructure in Canadian history.” – Trudeau.

Aug. 27: An animated Harper uses a ‘teeny-tiny’ finger gesture to mock Trudeau’s deficit plan.

“I guess it turns out the budget doesn’t balance itself after all, but he’ll run, he says, a modest deficit – a tiny deficit, so small you can hardly see the deficit – that’s what he said.” – Harper.

WATCH: Stephen Harper shows human side as he pokes fun at Justin Trudeau

Sept. 1: Statistics Canada says the Canadian economy shrank for the second quarter of 2015, putting the country into its first technical recession in six years. The agency also reports Canada’s GDP climbed in June by 0.5 per cent after shrinking over the first five months.

“The Canadian economy as a whole is now growing, according to the June figures … that is the reality of the situation – it is good news.” – Harper.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: What recession? It never happened, finance minister Oliver says

Sept. 2: After campaigning with Paul Martin, Justin Trudeau says the former prime minister made the right decision when he slashed transfer payments to the provinces to balance the books. Trudeau, however, says he won’t follow the same path.

“In the 90s, the Liberal government at the time inherited the situation where our debt to GDP ratio was among the highest in developed countries … right now, we have a very different situation where for 10 years, even though we have a very good debt to GDP ratio, we can’t seem to create growth.” – Trudeau.

Sept. 3: After the photo of three-year-old Alan Kurdi – a dead boy found washed up on Turkish beach – circulates around the world, Harper says Canada needs to keep fighting Islamic militants, the root cause of the suffering in Syria and Iraq.

“We need to help people who are actually there and can’t get away. And part of the way we need to help them is to stop the awful violence that is being directed at them, displacing them and killing them.” – Harper.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Question on refugee crisis leads to fiery exchange in federal leaders debate

Sept. 4: Harper continues to face calls on the campaign trail to speed up the processing of Syrian refugees.

“When I hear the answers from the prime minister, saying, ‘Well, more war is the solution,’ well, no amount of military action would have saved that child on that (Turkish) beach.” – Mulcair.

Sept. 14: Harper hits the campaign trail armed with good news: Finance Department released figures showing a $1.9-billion surplus for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

“I see zero to little risk that we will have anything other than a surplus for a second year in a row based on the trajectory that we are on.” – Harper.

WATCH: Federal leaders debate in 3 minutes

Sept. 16: On the eve of the economic debate in Calgary, the NDP releases a breakdown of its economic plans and promises to boost federal spending on health care beyond what Conservative budgets have forecast.

“We have committed to continue the six per cent escalator, but I do want to be clear that some of that six per cent will include announcements on health care that our leader Tom Mulcair has already made this week.” – Ontario NDP candidate Peggy Nash.

Story continues below advertisement

Sept. 17: During the economic debate, Mulcair rips into the government’s plan to ship Canadian crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast, arguing he wants to keep jobs in Canada instead of sending them south of the border.

“Forty-thousand Canadian jobs would be exported to the United States with Keystone XL … that’s not our figure, that’s the government of Canada’s figure under Mr. Harper’s Conservatives. I want to create those 40,000 jobs in Canada. let’s add value to our natural resources here.” – Mulcair.

READ MORE: ‘Old-stock Canadians’ are those already here, says Harper spokesman

At the same debate, Harper said during a segment on immigration policy that his party would bring in more refugees but not offer them better health care than the average citizen.

“We do not offer them a better health-care plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive. I think that’s something that new and old-stock Canadians can agree with.” – Harper

Sept. 19: Facing much scrutiny, the government says it will speed up the processing of Syrian refugee applications in an effort to issue “thousands more” visas before the end of this year.

“We looked carefully at our capacity. We looked carefully at the steps and procedures to keep Canada and Canadians safe. And we’ve come up with a much accelerated plan that will bring 10,000 Syrian refugees here by September 2016.” – Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

Story continues below advertisement

Sept. 23: During a speech in Montreal prior to the campaign’s first French-language debate, Mulcair tries to blunt expected attacks from rivals over his opposition to the government’s ban on face coverings at citizenship ceremonies.

“I understand that many view the niqab as a symbol of the oppression of women … and on that, let me be clear: No one has the right to tell a woman what she must – or must not – wear.” – Mulcair.

READ MORE: Court rejects feds’ appeal for stay in niqab case

Sept. 28: Trudeau defends his father’s political record during the Munk debate in Toronto, which is focused on foreign policy issues.

“Throughout this campaign, in indirect references and direct references, both of these gentlemen have, at various points, attacked my father. Let me say very clearly, I’m incredibly proud to be Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s son. And I’m incredibly lucky to be raised with those Liberal values.” – Trudeau.

Oct. 2: Conservative candidate and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander reminds Canadians about the “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act,” and promises more government resources if Conservatives are re-elected, including an RCMP tip line.

“We need to stand up for our values … need to do that in citizenship ceremonies. We need to do that to protect women and girls from forced marriage and other barbaric practices.” – Alexander.

Story continues below advertisement

Oct. 6: Harper said in an interview a Conservative government would consider banning public servants from wearing the niqab.

“That’s a matter we are going to examine … Quebec, as you know, has legislation on this and we are looking at that legislation.” – Harper.

READ MORE: Economy, not niqab, top of mind for voters on election day: Ipsos poll

Oct. 8: Harper says the Prime Minister’s Office temporarily halted the flow of Syrian refugees into Canada last June to verify that the most vulnerable people were being selected while ensuring security.

“Our government has adopted a generous approach to the admission of refugees while ensuring the selection of the most vulnerable people and keeping our country safe and secure.” – Harper.

Oct 15: Trudeau says Stephen Harper should be “embarrassed” by the support of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug.

“Stephen Harper should be embarrassed he’s having to count on the support of Rob Ford for his re-election. There’s a lot people talking in the news these days about the hypocrisy of the Fords and their drug problems and Mr. Harper and his positions on that.” – Trudeau

Oct. 15: Trudeau defends the resignation of Liberal campaign co-chair Dan Gagnier following a Canadian Press report that reveals he sent lobbying advice about the controversial Energy East pipeline to officials at TransCanada Corp.

“He acted in an inappropriate way a few days ago and when we found out about it, we sat down with him and he chose to do the responsible thing and step down from our campaign…. It’s a way of demonstrating the fact that we take ethical standards and responsibilities extremely seriously.” – Trudeau.

Story continues below advertisement

Visualization is based on Twitter data and should not be considered scientifically accurate. Data has been made available via a partnership with Twitter Canada.

*With files from Global News

Sponsored content