Canada has less than two weeks before it goes to the polls to vote in PM Justin Trudeau’s unpopular snap election. This election sees the Liberal Trudeau pitted against the Conservative opposition leader, Erin O’Toole, in a contest to become Canada’s Prime Minister.
Going into this election, the incumbent Liberals had a solid lead in the polls, which must have given them tremendous confidence. After all, what do they have to lose? They’re already a minority government, it’s not like they’d be defeated, right?
Well, the campaign has gotten off to an exciting start, with the Liberal’s poll lead evaporating by the end of August. Most polls have them fighting neck and neck with the Tories, others give the Tories a slight lead, and a few still put the Liberals ahead. One poll at the end of August even put the Tories ahead by ten points. Let’s look at the polling averages that Polling Canada kindly put together:
It’s reasonably safe to assume that no one from the far-left New Democratic Party (NDP) is jumping ship to the centre-right Tories and vice-versa. Looking at the data, we’re seeing an assault on the Liberal vote on both flanks, with the Tories taking their moderates and the NDP picking off some of those on the left-wing.
The past two elections have not been kind to the NDP, seeing them losing their role as the official opposition and becoming the fourth largest party in Parliament. The NDP however, is not a force to be overlooked; if they can build on their existing small gains and get some momentum, they’ll cause a real issue for the Liberals on top of the growing Tory threat.
"The Conservatives and other opposition parties have been weaponising this unpopular election against Trudeau fully, and it appears to be working."
When the election was called, a Liberal Government was almost inevitable with only the question of how many seats they’d take and if it would be enough to get them the majority they desperately want. But as you can see from the polling data, the tide has turned, and the Tories have made enough gains to not only look at denying the Liberals their majority but also potentially remove them Government.
338Canada polling has given odds to the outcomes below, which gives the Tories a 59% chance of winning, and the Liberals a 41% chance.
This analysis must be disappointing for Liberals; how did this election go from a sure victory to a likely defeat?
The most significant controversy of the election so far is the election itself. Trudeau called this election with the excuse that Parliament was “dysfunctional” (evidence of this dysfunction was yet to be seen, perhaps he got it confused with his own Government?), and that Canada “needed” a referendum on who should lead the country through COVID recovery. Most Canadians think this election is unnecessary: they see through the excuses and understand this is about obtaining a majority in Parliament, undoubtedly making governing a more manageable task with less resistance and compromise for the Liberals. Many Liberals may not give Trudeau their full support this election, which can only hurt him - given he desperately needs any support he can get. The Conservatives and other opposition parties have been weaponising this unpopular election against Trudeau fully, and it appears to be working.
Whilst the Liberals have been able to patch up their worst losses since the start of September and improve their performance in the polls – it’s still not enough to give them the solid lead they want. So you may ask, what is so good about Conservative leader, Erin O’Toole, that he’s able to run electoral circles around the once loved Prime Minister? It is clear that O’Toole’s primary election strategy has been to avoid every Conservative trope possible and stay out of trouble.
Canadian Conservative leaders of days gone by have fallen victim to Liberal’s who can paint them as the nasty Tory bogeyman, who will take away your healthcare, deny climate change and sell guns to everyone. On the other hand, O’Toole has learned from his predecessors and has taken pre-emptive action to remove these weapons from the Liberal arsenal. He has run a very moderate campaign, coming out strongly to support climate change, gay rights and other Tory sticking points.
"...it’s increasingly feasible the Liberals would collaborate with the NDP, Greens or the Bloc Québécois to keep Trudeau in power."
And finally, many Canadians are sick of continued COVID restrictions - which has translated into anti-Trudeau sentiment from many voters and manifested itself into support for the Conservatives and potentially support for Canada’s People Party, a populist group founded by Maxime Bernier, which won 0 seats and 1.62% of the vote share. Since the last election, the party has seen a leap in the polls, with one poll putting them at 7% and a polling average of almost 4%; this won’t be enough to win any seats, but a fascinating footnote nonetheless.
On a final note, I’d like to remind readers that popular vote isn’t everything and the Liberals have the advantage that they don’t need to win, as they won without it last time, where The Conservatives beat them by over 200,000 votes but lost in Parliament by over 30 seats. And if the outcome is what we predict , with the Tories having the most seats but short of a majority, it’s increasingly feasible the Liberals would collaborate with the NDP, Greens or the Bloc Québécois to keep Trudeau in power.
George is a conservative councillor and deputy chairman of Dartford Conservatives. He co-founded the Young Conservative Network and has a career in financial technology. George has a passion for foreign affairs, particularly American politics and enjoys reading and walking his dogs.
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this piece belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views of Demographica Limited as a company.