Prime minister Justin Trudeau, after just two years of minority government, has called an election with the shortest campaign period that the law allows. He wants a parliamentary majority for his Liberal Party, but the voters have no really clear issues at this time. The parties stand pretty much where they did in 2019. An election two years ahead of schedule — and in the throes of the fourth wave of the Coronavirus pandemic — looks to some like mere opportunism. It’s not as though Trudeau has been saddled with difficulty passing legislation, and the government has won every no confidence vote it has faced. So why now?
Trudeau is riding high in the polls, largely due to his huge Covid-19 package which included direct payments to around nine million Canadians temporarily out of work. With the pandemic dominating the news and Trudeau dominating the pandemic, main opposition leader, Conservative Erin O’Toole, has hardly had a look-in. Too newly installed to impact on most voters, Covid-19 has prevented O’Toole from meeting the voters face-to-face. Neither his social conservatism not his appeals for economic prudence seem to be connecting with the masses in these uncertain times. While the Liberals concentrate on gaining seats, the other parties are scrambling to hold on to those that they already have.
The Greens have spent the last few months wringing their hands over whether to expel leader Annamie Paul over an internal dispute concerning alledged anti-Semitism. It’s not even sure that she’ll retain her seat.
The leftist New Democrats are low in the polls, despite the popularity of leader Jagmeet Singh, and Bloc Québécois, while ideologically closer to the Liberals, might quietly be viewing a weak Conservative administration as a better prospect for gaining concessions.
In Canadian elections, it usually comes down to a couple of million swing voters — mostly moderate Conservatives and conservative Liberals. There’s still time for a significant number of voters to decide that Trudeau is putting his career ahead of the nation’s wellbeing, and that the majority he seeks is of little consequence in the big picture.
Our chart has been compiled with reference to speeches, manifestos and, where applicable, voting records. Should significant policy changes be announced during the campaign, the chart will be updated accordingly.