on when you read this column, it will be 75 days (or less)
until the next federal election when eligible voters will
cast their ballots on October 21st. As a lifelong politico
and partisan – full disclosure, I was the federal Conservative
candidate in Orleans in 2004 – I have no idea who will win
our riding or what will happen on the national scene.
is the beauty and frustration of democracy: campaigns matter
and I know it from firsthand experience, big time! Just
look back to the 2015 campaign, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal
party were running a distant third to the Stephen Harper’s
Conservatives and Thomas Mulcair’s NDP when the writ was
dropped for a gruelling 76-day campaign on Aug. 4, yet Trudeau
and his team formed a majority government.
To be clear,
this column will not stump for one candidate or one party
over another, rather it is an attempt to layout some observations
– based on political consensus and what the polls tell us
today – of what is likely to transpire this fall during
the federal campaign.
As of today,
the governing Liberals and opposition Conservatives are
statistically tied given what consecutive national polls
(Ipsos, Nanos, Ekos and others) have yielded since late-June
with neither party poised to form a majority government.
But to paraphrase former Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker,
polls are for dogs.
The other big
unknown for campaign 2019 is whether Jagmeet Singh and his
NDP can soar back to the 2011 official opposition status
(or more?) achieved by Jack Layton or, as the polls presently
indicate, be overtaken by the Greens and a resurgent Bloc
Quebecois in terms of House of Commons seats won post Oct.
Then there is
Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party that looks as though it
may field a full-slate of 338 candidates but is still only
registering between 1% and 2% support in today’s polls.
are infinite, yet the campaign narrative is being defined.
The Liberals, with four years in government, must defend
their record without question. They will work to frame it
as a work in progress pointing to their social, cultural,
climate and economic policy successes … according to them.
Look for repeated
soundbites and commercials on TV, radio, and online about
a growing middle class, historic employment levels, trade
deals success and a commitment to fighting climate change.
On the other side of this campaign coin, expect Andrew Scheer’s
Conservatives to assert that Mr.
Trudeau is not-one-of-so-he-cannot
understand the middle class and they will heap on some international
trip embarrassments and portray the government’s economic
success narrative as selective at best. Look for them to
also drive some regional disparities – like our troubled
traditional energy sector in Western Canada – and if NAFTA
2.0 or USMCA or CUSMA whatever you want to call it is not
signed south of the border, well you get the picture.
For their part,
the NDP will try and regain the traditional left from the
Liberals and show themselves as the real deal with an unabashed
tax-and-spend platform offer-ing the proverbial chicken
in every pot with free drugs, dental care, and daycare whether
directly delivered by the federal government or via a no-limit
credit card of transfers to provincial and territorial governments.
While each party
will likely pledge to eschew the negative, attack and destroy
their opponent tactics that turn so many folks away from
politics, sadly none of them will adhere to or uphold this
pledge. And the explanation is simple, attack ads work.
Of course each of the main parties (Liberal, Conservative,
and NDP) will run some positive and rosy ads to portray
their leader as a nice guy.
As for their
blatant attack ads, they will respond that these are mere
factual contrasts to inform and educate voters … and most
of will categorize these explanations as bovine fecal matter,
As for the Greens
and the People’s Party, I have no insights into their messages
or financial capacity to punch through in any meaningful
way to influence the coming campaign.
But this is an
early August view, much can change over two months. A major
domestic shock, international crisis, terrorist incident
on our soil, natural disaster or new political scandal can
change the campaign dynamic very quickly.
Moreover, a boneheaded
tweet, video, or comment from an unknown candidate in the
riding of north-what neighbourhood-is that, a way offside
news release or supposedly off-the-record comment from a
campaign official to a journalist could rear its ugly head
at 3 a.m. some five days or less before the October 21st
vote. Yes, campaigns matter.
remember, if you do not engage in democracy you are destined
to be governed by your inferiors as Plato noted over 2,500