With eight days to go before the majority of Canadians cast their ballots, the Conservatives have gotten an unlikely boost in the critical battleground riding of Whitby: former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavennes.
In an interview with The West Block's Mercedes Stephenson, Caesar-Chavennes, who left the Liberal Party caucus to sit as an independent, indicated she intends to vote for Conservative candidate Maleeha Shahid, where she once represented the riding as a Liberal.
She left the Liberal caucus after an interview published in the Globe and Mail, where she spoke out about private conversations she had with Justin Trudeau about her intention to not seek re-election in the 2019 election. She told The West Block that she "cried" upon reading an excerpt from former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould's forthcoming memoir, which detailed a tense discussion between Raybould and Trudeau amid the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
"I wasn’t heartbroken because I felt the hurt. I wasn’t heartbroken because of the pain that I felt. I wasn’t heartbroken because some of that feeling that was in that room was so familiar to me,” Caesar-Chavannes said. "I was heartbroken because we keep continuing to reward bad behavior from a prime minister that won a 2019 election, had a majority and a minority government for six years, (and) continues to say there is more to do."
Asked about her voting intentions for this election, Caesar-Chavannes indicated she is leaning Conservative: “I’m very much a Liberal at heart, but I would say that in this particular instance, in 2021, I don’t mind voting for my local representative, Maleeha Shahid, who is a Conservative,” Caesar-Chavannes said. “I’ve never [voted Conservative] in my life. But at this particular time, maybe we have to think about doing things differently.”
An outspoken critic of Trudeau, Caesar-Chavannes has also had criticism of Conservative leader Erin O'Toole, especially on the absence of any specific mention of racism and racial inequality in the Conservative party platform.
Justin Trudeau was asked about his former MP's comments on a whistle stop on Sunday morning, and the Liberal leader said he "wishes her all the best" before pivoting back to an attack on Conservative leader Erin O'Toole: "People have a really important choice to make in this election... Mr. O'Toole wants to take Canada back, take it back to 1951, apparently."