Justin Trudeau usually moves through a crowd at a brisk pace, stopping just long enough to pose for a photo and express his gratitude before reaching for the next outstretched hand.
An older man at the Royal Canadian Legion in Longueuil, Que., a city on the south shore of Montreal, received a little more than the usual amount of attention when he asked Trudeau a question.
“We are not touching capital gains on private homes,” Trudeau said to him Wednesday afternoon, raising his voice a bit so that it was heard by others, too.
The Conservatives have repeatedly said the Liberals would impose a stiff tax on home sales. The Liberals have repeatedly denied it.
“That is one of those things that Conservatives are spreading and it is totally false,” Trudeau told the man at the legion, before smiling and moving to greet the next person.
The Liberal leader has been talking more about polarization and divisiveness on the campaign trail, including by saying, when asked to share his greatest regret, that he wonders whether he could have done more to stop it.
Trudeau has also been blaming the Conservatives, accusing them of spreading disinformation as he tries to convince progressive voters he is the only one who can stop them now.
“We know that the Conservative party is running one of the dirtiest, nastiest campaigns based on disinformation that we’ve ever seen in this country,” Trudeau said Wednesday morning during a campaign stop in Montreal.
The Liberal leader was responding to a question about the Manning Centre, which has turned out to be a driving financial force behind a network of anti-Liberal Facebook pages pumping out political messages and memes during the federal election campaign this fall.
The Globe and Mail reported Tuesday that the organization, launched in 2005 by the founder of the Reform Party, Preston Manning, had raised the money that it passed along to third-party advertising groups, but it would not disclose its donors.
Elections Canada says that is not against the rules.
“It’s no surprise that they don’t want to share whose deep pockets are funding their attacks on Canadians, on other parties, and on the most important fight of our generation, the fight against climate change,” Trudeau said.
He also suggested a re-elected Liberal government would be open to further tightening the rules for third-party advertising groups.
Over the weekend, a security threat led Trudeau to wear a bulletproof vest at an event in Mississauga, Ont., and the next day he lamented the divisive nature of the campaign.
He said the Conservatives are adopting the politics of fear and negativity, though he did not blame them for the security threat.
Gerry Butts, a top aide and close friend of Trudeau’s, was criticized on social media this week for comments about a Conservative ad, which depicted leader Andrew Scheer shaking hands with a man wearing a yellow construction vest.
The Canadian version of the so-called yellow-vest movement around the world has seen protesters at events over the past year with varying agendas, including support for pipelines and opposition to a non-binding United Nations compact on global migration.
Some of those involved have also adopted a clearly racist tone, with a yellow-vest Facebook page having included comments from people celebrating the attack on mosques in New Zealand in which 51 people were killed.
Asked Wednesday whether he agreed that the Conservative ad was intended as a dog whistle to the yellow-vest protesters, Trudeau said he has also greeted many construction workers wearing gear, before once again taking aim at the Scheer campaign.
“I think Conservatives need to continue to be called out on the nasty, negative campaign that they are running, because Canadians deserve better,” he said.
Trudeau spent the day on a tour through Quebec, making a specific appeal to potential Bloc Quebecois voters by saying the Liberals stand up for the values they hold.
“The Bloc exists to fight against a federal government that doesn’t understand Quebec,” Trudeau said in Montreal.
“And yet with our priorities, every step of the way, we’ve demonstrated that we, as a team of Quebecers, are always there to stand up for Quebec values and indeed Canadian values.”
Trudeau suggested what Quebecers need is someone to stand up to Conservative premiers Jason Kenney, of Alberta, and Doug Ford, of Ontario, who he argued disagree with Quebecers on the issues of climate change, reducing poverty and strengthening gun control.
“We need Quebecers to stand strong against those voices across the country and around the world that don’t understand how to build a better future,” he said.
The Conservatives responded to that message by saying Trudeau was the one who was being divisive, accusing him of disparaging the 19 million people represented by Ford or Kenney.
Trudeau has been promoting his plan for the environment in Quebec, but the Liberal campaign bus was greeted by about 50 young activists demanding more federal action on climate change as it pulled into an evening rally in Sherbooke, Que.
Trudeau did not stop to speak with the demonstrators on his way into the building, but during his speech he said he agreed Canada needs to do more on climate change, while claiming his Liberal government has done more than any other on the issue.
The Liberal efforts to convince progressive voters to stick with them also got a boost on Wednesday when former U.S. president Barack Obama posted a message to Twitter urging Canadians to re-elect Trudeau, noting his fight against climate change.
During a campaign stop in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., a reporter asked Trudeau whether he or anyone on his team had asked Obama for the endorsement.
“I appreciate the kind words and I’m working hard to keep our progress going,” Trudeau said before moving on to greet supporters at a coffee shop.