OTTAWA (Reuters) - Here are brief profiles of the Canadian political party leaders contesting the Sept 20 federal election.
Justin Trudeau (Liberals) - Trudeau, 49, has been prime minister since November 2015 after he became the first leader to take a Canadian party from third place to an election win. Trudeau, the son of former longtime Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has championed women's rights, toughened environmental laws and spent heavily on economic and social supports amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He lost his parliamentary majority in 2019 after old photos emerged of him dressed up in blackface and has twice been found in breach of federal ethics rules. Trudeau has faced crowds of angry protesters on the campaign trail, most of them opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates. He sank in polls during the first part of the campaign, but recent surveys suggest he is picking up steam.
Erin O'Toole (Conservatives) - O'Toole, 48, was elected leader in August 2020 and was relatively unknown among Canadians heading into the campaign. His tightly managed campaign and his socially conscious platform have helped propel O'Toole to a lead in many polls, though some surveys this week show he may have lost momentum. He faces tension with social conservatives within his party over issues such as climate change, gun control and abortion. O'Toole, a former army helicopter navigator, accuses Trudeau of political corruption and has promised more restraint on government spending.
Jagmeet Singh (New Democrats) - Singh, 42, made headlines in October 2017 when he became the first person from an ethnic minority to be elected leader of a major Canadian political party. Polls suggest that Singh, who favors even more public spending than Trudeau, is gaining in popularity after a slow start that saw the left-leaning party lose almost 40% of its seats in 2019. Singh has a large following on Tik Tok and is adept at using social media to attract younger voters.
Yves-Francois Blanchet (Bloc Quebecois) - Blanchet, 56, who started his political career in the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec, took over the separatist Bloc in January 2019 and more than trebled its seats in the federal election later that year. The Bloc only runs candidates in Quebec and under Blanchet - who even rivals concede is a dynamic performer in English and French - looks set to hold onto its gains.
Annamie Paul (Greens) - Paul, 48, is the first Black person to head a mainstream Canadian federal party. The activist and lawyer was elected leader of the Greens last October but has recently become mired in a dispute over policy toward Israel that threatens to undermine the party.
Maxime Bernier (People's Party of Canada) - Bernier, 58, a former Cabinet minister who was once forced to step down from the foreign affairs portfolio after mislaying secret documents, defected from the Conservatives to create the populist PPC in 2018. The party has performed poorly and Bernier lost his parliamentary seat in 2019. Bernier was arrested in June in Manitoba for attending a rally against COVID-19 restrictions. Bernier opposes lockdowns because he says they are harmful to the economy, and he also rejects vaccine mandates. Some PPC signs have been seen among the anti-vax hecklers who have dogged the Trudeau campaign.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Julie Gordon; Editing by Peter Cooney and Alistair Bell)