In the weeks preceding Justin Trudeau’s calls for a summertime election two years prematurely, his two main opponents saw a road to victory.
COVID-19 cases were decreasing, Afghanistan was largely stable, and Trudeau’s liberals remained leading in the rankings.
This May All Change
The prime minister’s choice may potentially come back to haunt him. The number of COVID cases is increasing, Afghanistan is collapsing, and monitoring polling suggests a tighter race.
On Sept. 20, both the controversial conservative leader, Erin O’Toole, as well as the country’s biggest party leader, Democrat Jagmeet Singh, have a chance to overcome challenges.
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 15, 2021
POLITICO spent two whole months before the election (primarily in Ottawa and western Canada) talking to key conservatives about the party’s future.
Many people admitted to having lowered expectations, but just on the sidelines. Some hoped that by limiting the liberals to a minority government, the conservatives will be able to have some power in the House of Commons. Some expected a devastating defeat that would start a civil war triggered by disgruntled westerners.
Some conservatives argue that they have a fundamental handicap. Anti-conservative marketing campaigns are purchased by unions with huge budgets. Progressive organizations, such as Canada 2020 and LeadNow, are able to tap into large networks of important and young Canadians.
They claim that the mainstream media, particularly the publicly financed Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, is prejudiced and that many outlets have been affected by a C$595 million (US$464 million) tax cut package passed in 2019.
This morning, Governor General Mary Simon granted the Prime Minister's request to dissolve parliament & call a federal election. In Canada, only The Queen's representatives may dissolve parliament or provincial legislatures & call elections. 🇨🇦👑 #cdnpoli #cdncrown pic.twitter.com/1UM2G7c3MI
— Canadian Crown 🇨🇦 (@Canadian_Crown) August 15, 2021
Andrew Scheer, the former conservative leader who failed to depose Trudeau in 2019 and forfeited his position as a result, is a leading proponent of this viewpoint.
Earlier this month, he told Politico that he feels those factors are rigging the system against a conservative victory. He also credits the popularity of so-called “big government” organizations to a lack of historical education for young Canadians; the majority of these Canadians grew up after the Cold War that demonstrated the risks of socialism gone horribly wrong.
Scheer claims that those disappearing experiences, which significantly transformed the political environment before his first win in 2004, have opened the door for large expenditure.
He claims that the benefit of the doubt applies to wealth redistribution initiatives in a way that he hasn’t seen previously. Although Scheer admits that emergency aid expenditure was critical to the pandemic outbreak, he doubts that mainstream parties will ever reduce it now.
There is a Path to Victory for Conservatives
— My Prince George Now (@mypgnow) August 19, 2021
Some see a way to triumph. Shakir Chambers is a consultant at Earnscliffe Strategy Group who helped design policies for Doug Ford’s election campaign. He believes the federal conservatives can achieve a minority victory (no one expects a majority) if they accept three truths.
To begin with, O’Toole is Canada’s most disliked political figure. Those approval ratings currently point to a flop on voting day. According to Chambers, O’Toole might use this to his advantage. The bar has been set quite low. It could be extremely simple for him to exceed their expectations.
Secondly, Chambers claims that the conservatives cannot allow O’Toole to be branded as a whipping boy. The progressives have already accused O’Toole of being a covert social conservative who either rejects or capitulates to his constituency.
Thirdly, merely criticizing Trudeau is insufficient. What do you think you’re going to do? Where are your responses to many of the nation’s most urgent problems?