An election win by inches, not yards

I’m not sure why we are having a federal election at this time. Isn’t it a four-year mandate? And is this only two years since the October 2019 campaign? We know what the ruling liberals are all about. A left wing, woke, millennial political party, that would continue that political route, if re-elected. The Liberals needed the support of at least one other party to pass legislation and they have been getting it, making a deal here and there, surviving in their minority government role. It was either a deal with the Bloc for debate closure on Bill C-10, the government’s controversial plan to bring streaming giants such as Netflix under Canada’s existing broadcasting rule, or the NDP for Bill C2. That was a confidence vote where the ruling liberals could have fallen but Jagmeet Singh shook Trudeau’s hand, and a deal was made to assure a two-week sick leave for Canadians. There are many more examples of deals between parties. The point is, this government was working. There is a lot to be said about minority governments. Canadians benefit for the most part. So why an election after 23 months, and not the traditional 48?

Thankfully the campaign lasts 36 days, nowhere near the year long affair that goes on with the Americans every four years. The Trudeau liberals no doubt decided on the shortest campaign allowed under federal law, 36 short days, because the polls show them ahead, and with just over month, you would think that would mean less time for other parties to present their platforms, and less time to allow Canadians to change their minds and reverse the polls.

Well timed for the election is the compulsory vaccination of federal employees including travellers by air, plane or train in Canada. (The Conservatives leave the option for mandatory daily tests to the unvaccinated.) That decision pleases 80% of Canadians (Ipsos-Global pollster). In fact, Canadians are angry at those who are not jabbed. And with reason. The unvaccinated are mostly responsible for spreading the virus and creating variants, flooding the emergency rooms and occupying hospital beds, and weighing heavily on an overworked community of health care workers, grappling with mental health issues.

The bottom line for the liberals, and the academics who teach political science seem to agree, when the polls show a minority government with an opportunity for a majority, it usually means a visit o the Governor General’s office. And it did.

For the biggest spender in Canadian history, with the largest deficit ever, the Prime Minister has allotted an additional 100 million for mail in ballots during this fourth wave of the pandemic. It’s estimated this election will cost Canadians close to 700 million dollars.

Strange that the most recent Ipsos poll shows the Liberals handily ahead, but the same poll shows 57% that say it’s time for a change of party. (41% want a change, in a recent Moru poll) Hmmm…it leaves one thinking of just how to interpret those results. Very often the national leaders’ debates (SEPT 8,9), do not move the needle, but sometimes they do create a massive shift in voter intentions. In 2015, the third place Trudeau had everything to gain, and he did, but this time he is on top, with everything to lose.

Interesting to note that in the five pandemic elections held provincially, all re-elected the governing party. Except one. A week ago, Tuesday the 17th, Nova Scotians toppled a liberal party that had ruled 8 years, and had one poll actually leading by over 20 percentage points when the election was called. Premier elect Conservative Tim Houston, a chartered accountant, campaigned with a laser focus on eliminating “chronic shortages of family doctors, nurses and long-term care beds.” It worked.

Some of the issues of concern, millennials, the biggest group of home buyers leaving their city apartments and moving to the suburbs in search of an affordable home, our abandoned Afghan interpreters, mixed vaccines not acceptable by all outside of Canada, Joe Biden no friend of Canada, begging Saudis for more oil, while cancelling our KXL pipeline to the U.S.

In this federal election, the Maru poll identified jobs, health care, taxes and public spending, equally, as top concerns for Canadians. Surprisingly, the dole out of billions of dollars the liberals are hoping will buy them votes, including the $500 deposit to all seniors, is not that prominent in this poll where “just one in ten (11%) saying the government’s response to the pandemic is most important to their vote.”

Affordability has suddenly taken center stage.

This could be an election of inches, not yards, or a big surprise.

That’s what I’m Thinking.

Robert Vairo