Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigns in Peterborough, Ontario on Saturday. Credit … Carlos Osorio / Reuters
That is a political calculation. And on Monday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will find out if he succeeds.
When Trudeau called a by-election last month – two years earlier – his aides clearly hoped that an increase in approval ratings for fighting the pandemic would be a decisive victory and that his Liberal Party would win a majority in parliament. In the last election in 2019 he was defeated.
He described the call not as a political gamble, but as a pivotal moment in the country’s history. Over the next 36 days, he didn’t seem to convince many Canadians to view him that way.
Instead, elections are buzzing around the clock, even though hospitals in some areas are under pressure from the delta version of the coronavirus. Trudeau’s opponents have described his move as a ruthless power struggle. Last weekend, Erin O’Toole, leader of the Conservative Party and biggest rival, also called him “non-Canadian.” If the campaign makes a difference in the end, it’s probably one of the most annoying in modern memory.
Trudeau argues that, like his post-World War II predecessors, he needs a strong electoral mandate to defeat the pandemic and get the country’s economy on its way to recovery. Although he has not said it publicly, the Liberals want a majority of seats in the lower house. In the 2019 election, party voters refused to do so, meaning that Trudeau would have to rely on votes from opposition parties to pass the law.
If the last poll is correct, Mr Trudeau will be rejected again. The Liberals’ ratings fell sharply at the start of the election campaign and remained statistically around 30 percent in relation to the Conservatives.
“I wonder what the liberals are saying in their heads, ‘Damn, why are we doing this, why do we call it that? said Kimberly Spears, a political scientist at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. “If we get another minority liberal government, how long will it take?” And how long will Trudeau last? ”
Trudeau first came to power in 2015 and presented himself as a new voice in politics with new perspectives and new guidelines. He started this campaign third behind the current centre-left and Conservative New Democratic Party. The victory was extraordinary.
This time, instead of offering a new perspective, Trudeau focused on arguing with voters, explicitly or otherwise, that the return of a Conservative government under Mr O’Toole would undo liberal gains on several fronts: Arms. Control, gender equality, climate change, childcare, poverty reduction and most importantly, ending the pandemic and immunizing Canadians.
“Mr O’Toole will not guarantee that passengers sitting next to you and your children on trains or planes will be vaccinated,” Trudeau said at a pre-election rally in British Columbia last week.
But in Mr O’Toole the Prime Minister faced very different opponents from the Conservative leaders of the last two elections. To increase the appeal of his party, Mr O’Toole, who had taken over the party almost a year earlier, created a 160-page platform that turned his back on some prominent conservative positions such as the opposition to a carbon tax. .
And during the campaign, he scrapped one of his key promises to lift the ban on 1,500 Trudeau-style rifles after it became clear that voters didn’t like him much. who are not major conservative loyalists. However, he continued to refuse mandatory vaccinations and vaccination certificates.
“I’m a new leader with a new style,” O’Toole, a former Air Force helicopter navigator and Ontario corporate attorney, said at the start of the campaign.
Analysts predict that Liberal support in Canada’s most populous provinces – Ontario and Quebec – even if statistically tied, suggests that the party will win the most seats, if not the majority. In this case, Mr. Trudeau wants the country to be more or less ready to form a C$600 million parliament after its dissolution.
Prefix in Burnaby, British Columbia this month. Credits … Jennifer Gauthier / Reuters
Canadians often complain that elections are being pushed forward, as in Monday’s vote. But the symptoms usually go away after the first week of the campaign.
not this time. As the delta version of the coronavirus stalls plans to restore or lift restrictions in several provinces and their governments, questions about the wisdom of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign invitation still dominate the race.
Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s longtime friend and former senior political adviser, said, “They struggled to answer that question throughout the campaign.” “And that’s why they have a hard time getting the message across.”
While Trudeau has carefully avoided using the word “majority”, there is no doubt that he is seeking to regain control of the House of Commons, which was rejected in the 2019 vote when his Liberal Party won only a minority. He has since relied on ad hoc support from opposition parties to pass the law, Trudeau said, adding that pandemic action had slowed.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Christia Freeland said this spring that she had presented the “Covid consensus” between all parties in parliament.
“We really see that doing business domestically is impossible,” he said on a one-country expedition last week. “It is clear to us that the continuation of the fall is practically impossible.”
Mr Trudeau’s opponents did not buy it, finding that all major parts of Mr Tudo’s legislation had been passed, although several bills died when Mr Trudeau delayed Parliament for a vote. He has consistently condemned his decision to suspend by-elections as unnecessary and potentially harmful to voters.
Those who deviate include liberals, which allows many who would not vote.
The House of Commons of Canada on Parliament Hill in Ottawa last year. Credits … Blair Gable / Reuters