Earnscliffe Election Insights: Issue #5

Earnscliffe Election Insights: Issue #5

The six federal party leaders met last night in Gatineau for the English-language debate.  They were all in search of a common objective, a pivotal moment in a lackluster campaign that, with less than two weeks to go, has yet to find a focus.

A hopeless format

The combination of six leaders, five moderators, five topics and two hours meant that this debate was far from the public service it should have been. The debate commission failed in its responsibility by turning the format over to TV producers—they in turn traded pacing for incoherence. As a result, the set-up allowed no one to develop a thought—all it rewarded were zingers and one-liners.  Maclean’s Stephen Maher put it well: “too many people making too many points, at the same time, in very short bursts.”

The leaders were obviously frustrated, as they were unable to develop lines of argument, engage with each other or rebut. The five moderators were uneven; some started with provocative questions, some did not. Some tried to control the cross-talk among the leaders, some did not. They showed significant frustration as well.  As Global National’s Dawna Friesen said to Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, “You’ve talked over each other and you’re both out of time.”

Last night’s debate had nothing to do with voters — it was about political bile, TV product and media PR. It was an awesome fail. Most importantly, viewers and voters had little chance to hear what they wanted to hear most—the leaders’ visions for Canada and who would be best to lead the country. As the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hébert commented, “Substance was sacrificed to a cumbersome format.”

The potential for what might have been was clear in the questions voters asked. None had barbs or hidden agendas. They just wanted information and policy answers. Unfortunately, they ended up being props in a TV show.  As Paul Wells of Maclean’s put it, “The government designed it all, so how could it be imperfect?”

On the debate’s format, we’ll leave the last word to Postmedia’s Andrew Coyne:

 

 

 

 

 

What the media saw: no knockouts, few winners and losers

Several media observers commented on the leadership dynamics on display in the debate.  In its lead editorial, the Globe and Mail observed, “As for Mr. Trudeau, who said that Mr. Bernier was there ‘to say publicly what Mr. Scheer thinks privately,’ he was very happy to have Mr. Bernier on the stage.”  The editorial also noted that NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Green leader Elizabeth May traded shots: “It’s understandable; they’re fighting for the same votes.” Similarly, on the jibes between the Bloc’s Yves-Francois Blanchet and Conservative Andrew Scheer, the Globe observed: “they too are competing for many of the same votes in Quebec.”

With serious policy discussions effectively blocked by last night’s format, overnight media coverage has largely focused on the partisan shots traded by the leaders.

As Postmedia’s John Ivison commented, “Differences were highlighted and prejudices reinforced.  Choices were dramatized as if Canadians were deciding between a visionary leader, able to turn horses into unicorns, and the ringleader of the zombie army of the unthinking.”  Ivison named Andrew Scheer the loser and also commented growing political alienation reflected in the debate: “The Canadian political system has been a success because of its moderation, pragmatism, common sense and the willingness of its principal actors to compromise. Those days, it seems, are gone — and with them has dissolved investment in the political process.”

CBC’s Chris Hall highlighted the exchanges between Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer, starting with Mr. Sheer’s opening “he’s always wearing a mask” attack on Mr. Trudeau.  Hall noted that “the Trudeau-Scheer exchanges resorted more to name calling than point making, the goal more about diminishing the other’s reputation than building your own brand.”

The Globe’s John Ibbitson declared Jagmeet Singh the overall winner and was joined in this assessment by Stephen Maher of Macleans.  Ibbitson said Singh offered “a pitch-perfect positive message while somehow managing to shut down every voice raised against him.  More than once, chaos reigned on stage, with leaders speaking over each other, leading to gibberish.  Then Mr. Singh would calmly intervene, with his word the last one.”

Writing for CTV News, Graham Slaughter also praised Mr. Singh’s performance: “After months of dismal polling for the NDP, Singh had a high bar for tonight: convince left-leaning voters that they should vote for him rather than Trudeau.  If one thing is for certain, Singh came across as the most relaxed in the debate. He drew laughs several times, including once when he was mixed up with Scheer. “I wore a bright orange turban on purpose today!” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.”

In the Toronto Star, Chantal Hebert rated the leaders’ relative outcomes.  In her view, the debate produced no knockouts and “may…have made the possibility of a minority government more probable.” Hebert’s view is that Justin Trudeau “neither dominated the exchanges nor did he spend the evening on the ropes as a result of the sustained attacks of the other leaders.” Andrew Scheer “limited the potential damage by spending much of the evening in his opposition comfort zone, in full-attack mode.”  NDP leader Jagmeet Singh “had a good night.  He was on message and took the few openings he did get to distinguish his positions from those of his rivals.”  In Hebert’s view, Elizabeth May did not have a great night, particularly because the time difference meant that the debate aired in the late afternoon in British Columbia, her party’s region of greatest strength.

Finally, in Le Devoir, Michel David rated all the leaders’ debate performances, awarding Jagmeet Singh an “A-,” Justin Trudeau a “B,” Yves-Francois Blanchet a “B,” Andrew Scheer a “B-,” Elizabeth May a “C,” and Maxime Bernier a “D.”

 

The party platforms: cautious, pedestrian and uninspiring

At the start of the 1993 federal election, Prime Minister Kim Campbell was ridiculed for famously observing that an election is no time to discuss serious issues.  As the 2019 campaign unfolds, most federal party leaders appear to be channeling Canada’s first female prime minister.

Normally, parties aim for a balance of vision and specifics in their platforms.  The vision presents related themes that generate a call to action towards common aspirational goals that everyone can get behind.  The specifics are proposed policy initiatives that support those goals—steps to improve innovation, immigration, job skills training and trade policy, tax measures to spur investment or productivity, and policies to build or strengthen specific sectors of the economy. Perhaps even a big and compelling new idea can be thrown in to attract attention.

This approach to platform-building has gone missing in the current election.  It is clear all the parties started with the same pollsters’ briefing, that Canadians were concerned about the rising cost of living, in the campaign’s shorthand, affordability. But in keying their platforms toward what community developers call the “felt needs” of voters—the changes people feel are necessary to correct the deficiencies they perceive in their community—the parties are addressing the symptoms rather than the causes.

While lowering the cost of living for Canadians may be a worthy target, it comes at the cost of much more important conversations the country could be having.  In the parties’ rush to exploit affordability, no cost has been too large and no target group’s concerns too doubtful to micro-target.

The Liberals and Conservatives have both promised sizable tax cuts for low-to-middle income Canadians.  The Liberals’ tax reduction plan would cost the treasury $5.7 billion over four years, while the Conservative approach is priced at $5.9 billion for the same period by the Parliamentary Budget Office.

Before we leave the subject of taxes, the NDP have proposed a truly radical policy departure, the proposal of a wealth tax of one per cent per year on the value of household assets above $20 million. Billed as a different approach to address growing income inequality, it recognizes that due to the magic of compound interest, wealth will always grow much faster than wages, which in turn means that income taxes are relatively meaningless in bridging wealth gaps.

On the expenditure side, all parties except the Bloc and the Peoples’ Party have opted for enhanced spending:

  • The PBO costing of the Liberals’ promises puts the incremental cost (tax cuts plus spending commitments) at just under $17 billion over the next four years.
  • The Conservatives fully-costed platform is not yet available, but they’re big spenders too. While modest in comparison to the Liberals, their top seven spending initiatives would still cost over $4 billion by 2020-21.  When added to their $6 billion tax cut, the full Conservative package is worth $10 billion.
  • The NDP has pledged to spend $10 billion per year to bring in pharmacare, while the Greens estimate their pharmacare program at $26.7 billion over four years.

Once they launched their broadly-based tax cut proposals, the Liberals and Conservatives declared a bidding war of competing highly-targeted “boutique” tax expenditures designed to play shamelessly to specific demographic groups. As tax experts have observed, these initiatives will only complicate the tax system further and increase taxpayer compliance costs.

The boutique tax proposals advanced by both the Liberals and Conservatives are all of a piece (  The Liberals have promised to give 75,000 “less privileged children” and their families up to $2,000 to pay for a trip of up to four-nights to a national park. The Conservatives have their own boutique proposals to reward favoured activities: a tax credit of up to $500 per child for fitness and sports activities, and an improvement to the existing tax credit for the supplies of volunteer search and rescue workers and firefighters. The Liberals have committed to give every 12-year old a $200 credit to access theatres and museums and the Conservatives one-upped that yesterday with a promise to eliminate admission fees to all national museums.

It is understood that elections are all about spending promises. All parties like to spend taxpayers’ money; the temptation is just too great. The problem is that all the spending directed towards easing the cost of living is merely a proxy for deeper and wider issues, and these are not being addressed in this campaign.

Changing how we work

Technological advances such as automation, robotics and artificial intelligence are interacting with major sectoral disruptions and demographic shifts to transform the world of work. As jobs have decoupled from the locations where people work, the “gig economy” is growing, with employment becoming project-driven, contract-based and of variable duration.

It would have been instructive to hear the parties’ views on how federal policies should address Canada’s chronic skills shortages, and how programs must change to support the changing labour force and to help workers cope with the loss of pension and other employee benefits formerly arranged through employers.  While the Liberal platform touches on these issues peripherally, the other parties are silent.

The future of innovation

As Canada’s economy evolves from its traditional dependence on resource-based industries to knowledge work, both the Harper and Trudeau governments have focused mightily on how to harness innovation to lead this transition.  Strangely, the party platforms have nothing to say about how to encourage innovation in the private sector and how that can help to improve Canada’s weak labour productivity growth, which continues to lag that of our major trading partners.

Late last week, an open letter from the Council of Canadian Innovators challenged political leaders to answer a host of questions about economic policies to advance innovative Canadian companies. It is bizarre that leaders of high technology firms felt they had to ask federal political leaders to acknowledge their industry.

Foreign relations and trade

The Trump phenomenon is destabilizing traditional trading relationships, challenging multilateralism and denigrating international institutions.  Canada’s relations with China are at an all-time low following the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wangzou, while Gt. Britain (Canada’s fourth largest trading partner) is moving inevitably towards a “hard Brexit” from Europe.

While the Liberal platform contains the limited language about “a principled approach that puts democracy, human rights, international law and environmental protection at the heart of foreign policy,” no party has addressed these difficult realities and what they might mean for Canada’s foreign and trade policies. The Conservatives are the only party to venture into foreign policy substantively with their populist promise to reduce international assistance by 25 per cent, or $1.5 billion. Mr. Scheer claimed that a “significant chunk” of the $6.1 billion Canada spends on foreign aid is misdirected to 10 “middle- and upper-income countries, but experts have noted that these countries only received a total of $22.03 million in assistance in the last fiscal year.

by Daniel Bernier

The View from Quebec – Quebec: plus ça change?

Ever since the Progressive Conservatives’ disastrous 1993 election, when they only managed to elect two MPs – Jean Charest in Quebec, and Elsie Wayne in New Brunswick  – Quebecers have been searching for economic stability combined with a broad streak of nationalism and progressive policies that represent their values. The Liberals governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin managed to strike this balance, largely driven by the Bloc Québécois, which formed the official opposition for a decade.

In 2011, the majority of small-c conservatives in Quebec voted massively for Jack Layton’s progressive NDP, mainly to avoid re-electing a Conservative government under Stephen Harper that did not reflect their aspirations and values as a distinct society. This was totally unprecedented.

Today, more than 57% of Canadians are dissatisfied with the Trudeau government, but none of the other leaders are inspiring voters. The TVA-LCN network’s French-language debate made this reality abundantly clear, as no leader was able to strike a fatal blow. Although Andrew Scheer’s reluctance to answer questions about his personal position on abortion will cost him votes, Trudeau’s two campaign planes and smirks didn’t make him any friends either. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was trying to seem as good-natured as Jack Layton, and Mr. Blanchet’s didactic approach to Quebecers’ values and aspirations worked well, although he is too often perceived as condescending, not a good thing in Quebec.

There are basically three Quebecs: Montréal (Liberal), Québec City (Conservative) and the rest of Quebec (mainly Conservative and Bloc), where 17 seats involving three-way battles were won by a margin of less than 3% in the 2015 election. In the coming election, on the progressive side, Quebec voters have three choices, the Liberals, Elizabeth May’s Greens and Jagmeet Singh’s NDP. Meanwhile, those who want economic stability and more money in consumers’ pockets have two alternatives.   Andrew Scheer is the family man who comes across as stilted and even robotic in debate. As far as protecting Quebec gains and values is concerned, Blanchet’s Bloc Québécois knows all too well which buttons to push.

May’s Green Party doesn’t seem to be making any real breakthroughs in Quebec, even after the recent week focusing on the environment that culminated in 500 000 people marching in Montréal with Greta Thunberg. Although the environment is an important issue for Quebecers, the Green Party is just not a viable policy option. For the time being, the Maxime Bernier phenomenon is still marginal, and winning his riding of Beauce is far from a sure thing while the Greens will win three or four seats at most in western Canada, but again, there is a great deal of volatility.

The Liberals are counting on the Quebec vote to compensate for potential losses in other regions like the Maritimes, the Prairies and British Columbia, while Quebec seats are essential for the Conservatives if they are to expand beyond their existing support in the west. The unknown variable remains a possible rebirth of nationalism in Quebec that would benefit the Bloc Québécois, supported by the recently-elected Coalition Avenir Québec government. One question that remains is whether the “blues” (Conservatives and Bloc Québécois) will make enough headway to pierce the Liberal armour and cost them a majority.

By Hilary Martin

Younger Voters Will Matter

In 2015, young voters in this country bucked the trend of low voter turnout

among their age group and played a decisive role in the election. Four years later, voters under 35 are perhaps more politically engaged (look no further for evidence than the youth who rallied around the world last month in the global climate strike), but whether or not they will turn out in the same numbers they did in 2015 is uncertain. At this point, is any party’s offering connecting with them?

The federal election of 2015 was a “change” election, which usually brings more voters of every age to the polls, but there were a few other forces at work. In Justin Trudeau, young voters were presented with a relatively younger, more charismatic and relatable leader. The Liberals were also organized when it came to recruiting youth, particularly on university campuses. Over half (57%) of those under the age of 25 turned out (up from 39% in 2011) and the Liberals won a majority government.

An Abacus Data poll[1] conducted a few months after the election reported the Liberal vote among the under 25 set at 45%, support for the NDP at 25%, the Conservatives at 20% and the Greens at 4% (it is important to remember that opinion polls and election results don’t always align perfectly – people like to say they voted for a winner, even if they did not). Recent public opinion polling shows that the Liberals continue to hold the largest share of votes among 18-24 and 25-34-year-olds, but most peg their support at around a third, and few if any show their support over 40%.

While no party has been able to take the lead from the Liberals among young voters, there are some opportunities for both the Greens and the NDP to shave off Liberal support. The NDP and Greens are the second choice of well over half of Liberal voters under 35. The Greens already appear stronger than in 2015 and Elizabeth May’s approval ratings among young voters are net positive. As for the NDP, their support is stronger among voters under 35 than among all other age groups, and opinion of Jagmeet Singh is largely favourable. Finally, voters under 35 are the most likely to claim they may switch their vote before election day.

What might sway young voters this election? Earnscliffe’s own data[2] from earlier this year shows that environment and climate change is the top issue among voters 18-24 and 25-34. Almost one-in-five in both age categories name it as the most important issue facing Canada today, ahead of the economy and health care.

When it comes to the issues young voters say will affect their decision, health care is the issue the most voters 18-24 (58%) say will have a major impact on their vote. Climate change is not far behind – 50% say how the parties plan to tackle the issue will have a major impact on their vote. The economy (58%) and health care (55%) are the issues that are most likely to have a major impact on the choice of voters 25-34, but climate change is included in their top five (44%).

The economy and health care usually emerge among the top issues for voters, regardless of age. It’s reasonable to assume that younger voters are considering the economic policies of each party and might be interested in the health care announcements that have been made so far, such as solutions to make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible. However, those under 25 in particular will likely want to know more about each party’s plan to address climate change.

 

By Greg Weston

What If They Held and Election and Nobody Came?

As ordinary Canadians prepare to celebrate the end of a federal election marked by personal mudslinging, lacklustre leadership, and competing promises of a chicken in every pot, party strategists and pollsters are beginning to ponder the real possibility that a game-changing number of uninspired voters will opt for none of the above and stay home on election day.

This kind of dysfunction is nothing new, although it is a relatively recent ailment in the history of Canadian democracy — the five worst voter turnouts in federal elections since Confederation all occurred in the past 20 years. In the 42 elections held since 1867, the average voter turnout has been 70.7 per cent, while in the six elections since 2000, turnout slipped to 60.9 per cent.

Just as all Canadians have reason to be concerned about the country’s democratic health when two out of every five citizens don’t vote, few things keep campaign strategists awake at night more than voter turnout. After all, what’s the point of convincing people to support your party if they don’t show up to cast their ballot?

As the current federal election heads into the home stretch to E-Day on Oct. 21, recent history suggests each of the major political parties has its own good reasons to be losing sleep over voter turnout. Consider:

Liberals: Likely no one on the campaign trail is tossing and turning over voter turnout more than the Grits. The two of the lowest voter showings in the history of Canadian federal elections were in 2008 (58.8 per cent) and 2011 (61.4 per cent) respectively, and almost all of that drop in electoral participation appears to have been at the expense of the Liberals. The results were crushing defeats of the Grits.

While there are myriad reasons people don’t show up to vote, there can be little doubt the Liberals’ unpopular leaders at the time – Stephane Dion in 2008, and Michael Ignatieff in 2011 – motivated many supporters to sit on their hands. So, what does that tell us about Justin Trudeau?

Far from being relegated to the trash heap of public opinion like his two predecessors, Trudeau’s personal brand has nonetheless been battered in political punchouts over SNC Lavalin, blackfaces, and about-faces on previous election promises. Today, polls show support for him as preferred prime minister has been sharply reduced, albeit he still runs ahead of Conservative leader Andrew Sheer and the rest of the party leaders.

All of which could have a significant impact on voter turnout that depends so much on which party’s supporters are more motivated to show up on election day. Will it be the Conservatives bolstered by Trudeau’s stumbles and a race so tight they can almost smell power? Or will Grits watching their leader falling from grace come to the aid of the party anyway, if only to keep the keys to the kingdom?

One group of former Liberal supporters commanding the full attention of the Liberal campaign is the estimated 1.2 million young Canadians whom Trudeau helped attract to the voting booth for the first time in 2015. A demographic historically known for its general aversion to federal elections, there’s no question their surprise participation in the last election played a pivotal role in electing the Liberals. Conversely, if they go back to sitting on the sidelines this time, a mass-no-show could be enough to send JT & Co. back to the opposition benches.

Finally, low voter turnout has the potential to belie public opinion polls: Many would-be Grit supporters down on their own party and leadership, but unwilling to vote for any of the alternatives, may well be telling the pollsters their ballot preference today is Liberal while their final decision will be to not vote at all.

Conservatives: Among all the federal parties in the current race, recent history suggests the Conservatives have the most loyal core of supporters, and therefore arguably the most to gain from an overall low voter turnout that disproportionately suppresses the other parties. In the past four elections, Stephen Harper’s party garnered a similar number of supporters every time. Even when they lost power in 2015 to a Liberal groundswell, the Conservatives’ support dropped only slightly from the previous election.

Despite the traditional loyalty of the Conservative flock under Harper’s leadership, party strategists are almost certainly having their share of sleepless nights over their new leader. Andrew Scheer isn’t exactly setting the country on fire with inspirational leadership. On the contrary, his public image as big, bland and very conservative has no doubt contributed to the party’s failure to leap ahead in public opinion, despite the past 18 months of Liberal woes.

To seriously challenge Trudeau, Scheer must convince small-c conservative Liberals to abandon their party and leader, and move to him and his party, rather than just staying home in protest and not voting.

Bottom line: In a race where the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck in the home stretch, it wouldn’t take much to tip the outcome by would-be CPC voters staying home on election day because they just can’t warm to either Scheer or Trudeau as PM.

New Democrats:  The bad news for the NDP and leader Jagmeet Singh is that barring a huge turnaround, their level of support in this election has been so far into the basement of public opinion relative to the other two major parties that they will be lucky to win the dozen seats needed to maintain official party status in Parliament.

The good news is the NDP support is so low that it is probably safe to predict those remaining stalwarts still proudly wearing orange today would walk through fire to get to the polling booth on Oct. 21. In that sense, the party would probably benefit from an overall low voter turnout that would almost certainly hit the Liberals much harder than the NDP.

Greens and People’s Party: While some pundits seem to have high hopes for the Green Party of Elizabeth May in this election, the polls aren’t yet showing signs of a green wave, and without one, the impact of an overall low voter participation is likely to be minimal. Ditto for the People’s Party of the hard right, and its leader Maxime Bernier — voter turnout doesn’t matter much when you don’t have a lot of them to start.

Finally, in Quebec, a low voter turnout would likely have the most impact on the resurgent Bloc Quebecois and indirectly the national outcome. Polls show the separatist party that was all but marginalized in the last election is now running second in Quebec behind the Liberals. Much of the BQ’s sudden popularity is from disaffected supporters of other parties who are looking for a place to park their votes in protest, and in an election with low voter turnout, parked protest votes tend to be no-shows. On the other hand, the BQ has momentum and a high voter turnout could deprive the Liberals of seats they are counting on to win a majority government.

Whatever else happens along the final stretch of Campaign 2019, a low voter turnout could produce a surprise election outcome. And if the no-shows stay away in sufficient numbers affecting one party more than another, the choice of Canada’s next prime minister could be decided as much by those who didn’t vote as by those who did.

By Geoff Norquay

Stones and glass houses: weaponized “hypocrisy”

The theme of inconsistency was always going to be a feature of this campaign.  The obvious distance between the Liberal promises of 2015 and their performance once in office meant that Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives were going to attack the Liberal record.

Many saw additional inconsistencies in the Prime Minister’s efforts to square continued energy development with the need to address global warming, which led to the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline while the government was putting in place a carbon pricing regime across the country.

In advance of the campaign, the Conservatives were thinking about a similar critique of Mr. Trudeau.  When they unveiled their paid media advertising last May, its message frame went harder and more directly after the prime minister: “Justin Trudeau, he’s not as advertised.”

With the campaign underway, the media christened the theme of inconsistency “hypocrisy,” and the race was off.  The theme gathered momentum with the publication of pictures and videos of the prime minister in blackface.  In contrast to Mr. Trudeau’s oft-stated dedication to inclusion and respect for minorities, the offending pictures were startling and seriously contradicted his brand.

Since the pictures of Mr. Trudeau emerged, it’s been all downhill, with everyone’s glass houses sustaining damage. Despite having a poor showing in the TVA French-language debate last Monday, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer scored a “gotcha” with the disclosure that the prime minister’s campaign has two planes, one for his staff and the media and another for equipment.  But if a pollution-spewing second plane played badly against Liberal stated concerns about global warming, why hadn’t the Conservatives thought to insulate themselves by purchasing carbon credits to offset their own emissions?

Mr. Scheer then suffered a damaging “own goal” when it emerged that he has U.S. citizenship though his father. The problem was that in the past, Scheer had been sharply critical of the dual citizenships of Stéphane Dion, Tom Mulcair and former Governor General Michaëlle Jean.

Observers instantly saw a double standard, and they also considered Mr. Scheer’s explanations as to why he had hidden his American citizenship from Canadians (nobody ever asked) and why he only got around to starting to revoke his American citizenship this past August (too busy) as weak and unconvincing.  Mr. Scheer achieved partial redemption on the broader hypocrisy front with his Friday night firing of Burnaby-North Seymour Conservative candidate Heather Leung for her egregious comments on sexual orientation.

Last Friday, Mr. Trudeau added to his inconsistency credentials with his decision to launch a federal court challenge against the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s (CHRC) ruling that Indigenous children and families be compensated for federal under-funding of the on-reserve child welfare system.

The CHRC finding places the government on the hook for billions of dollars in pay-outs and also requires the compensation plan to be in place by December 10, which is an impossible deadline given the necessary consultations with affected parties that would need to occur.  Despite the government’s claim that it acknowledges the finding of systemic discrimination and does not oppose the principle of compensation, critics of the court appeal argue that it flies in the face of Mr. Trudeau’s pledges to repair federal relationships with Indigenous Canadians and pursue reconciliation on all fronts.  While the government’s justifications for the appeal are reasonable and Andrew Scheer has promised to launch a similar appeal, the campaign’s now-dominant hypocrisy frame inevitably casts the government’s actions in a negative light.

Aided and abetted by the media, the Liberals and Conservatives have successfully weaponized hypocrisy against each other in this campaign. The results have been petty, unedifying and self-defeating. The parties should not be surprised if their reward on election day is Canadians staying away from the polls in droves.

Canadians are not terribly surprised when they find their politicians are fallible and are generally prepared to give them a pass if they own up to mistakes and promise to do better.  But when politicians try to pretend they are perfect while smearing each other, they only add to the distance between the individual voter and political engagement.

The Polls

Last week’s events do not appear to have affected the national public opinion landscape dramatically. The Liberals and the Conservatives remain in a close race, within about three points of each other nationally. If either party had a slight edge over the past week, it was the Liberals. The NDP and Green numbers shifted a bit, with the former performing slightly better, and the latter slightly worse, compared to last week. In Quebec, the BQ continues to garner more support than it did on election night in 2015.

Election 2019 key dates

  • October 10, 2019 – French-Language Leaders Debate
  • October 21, 2019 – Election Day

[1] The Abacus Data study referenced was conducted online with 1,000 Canadians aged 18 to 25 from February 8 to 15, 2016. A random sample of panellists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Canadians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s most respected online sample providers. The study was commissioned by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

[2] Methodology:  The results are based upon an online survey of 2,427 eligible Canadian voters randomly recruited from LegerWeb’s online panel and conducted between January 25th to February 5th, 2019.  Using data from the 2016 Census, results were weighted according to age, gender and region in order to ensure sample reflective of the population.  As this was a non-probability sample, no margin of error can be associated with the results, nor is it appropriate to offer any comparative margin of error indicating the level of accuracy of results had the study been conducted using random probability sampling.