So, summer is here and it’s polling season, too. MPs are home, in their ridings, reconnecting with constituents, hopefully recharging their own political batteries and, in most cases, gearing up for the last, crucial, 48 days between Labour Day, when I expect to see all them in local parades and at festivals, and Sunday, October 20th, the day before election day. (I assume the writs will be dropped in mid-September to allow for the (required by law) minimum of 36 days of campaigning ~ I think that many observers believe that shorter campaigns are better for the incumbents.) I also expect the politicians and their advisors to be watching the polls and mulling over what all those numbers mean.
There’s a reason I like the picture, above (thanks Calgary Herald), of Michelle Rempel and Elizabeth May at the Calgary Stampede in July of 2014 … a recent (19 June 2019) CBC News story says that “New polling numbers suggest a majority of Canadians believe the federal government should limit the number of immigrants it accepts — a public opinion trend that Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says he finds concerning … [and, the report by Teresa Wright of the Canadian Press, says] … Sixty-three per cent of respondents to a recent Leger poll said the government should prioritize limiting immigration levels because the country might be reaching a limit in its ability to integrate them … [while only 37% agreed with me and] … said the priority should be on growing immigration to meet the demands of Canada’s expanding economy.” This comes on the heels of another (Nanos) poll which the Globe and Mail said showed that “A solid majority of 73 per cent of Canadians polled by Nanos Research say that ethics in government will influence their vote in the fall election, slated to take place on Oct. 21,” all of which, I guess, might mean that Elizabeth May’s (and Justin Trudeau’s) big issue, climate change, is less influential than Ms Rempel’s big issue which is illegal migration.
Now, the poll numbers seem to be fluctuating within a relatively narrow and stable range. Nanos says …
- 2019-06-25: Conservatives 33, Liberals 33, NDP 17, Green 10, People’s 1 in latest Nanos federal tracking;
- 2019-06-18: Conservatives 34, Liberals 30, NDP 17, Green 11, People’s 1 in latest Nanos federal tracking;
- 2019-06-11: Conservatives 34, Liberals 31, NDP 17, Green 11, People’s 1 in latest Nanos federal tracking
- 2019-06-04: Conservatives 34, Liberals 30, NDP 16, Green 12, People’s 1 in latest Nanos federal tracking
- 2019-05-28: Conservatives 35, Liberals 29, NDP 16, Green 12, People’s 2 in latest Nanos federal tracking
- 2019-05-21: Conservatives 36, Liberals 31, NDP 14, Green 11, People’s 1 in latest Nanos federal tracking
- 2019-05-14: Conservatives 35, Liberals 30, NDP 15, Green 11, People’s 1 in latest Nanos federal tracking
- 2019-05-07: Conservatives 35, Liberals 32, NDP 16, Green 10, People’s 1 in latest Nanos federal tracking
… but they are not trending in the CPC’s favour, and Leger says:
Leger also says that Canadians are, by a statistically significant (9 point) margin, more worried by the prospects of four more years of Justin Trudeau than they are by four years of Andrew Scheer …
… which means that the Liberals campaign to demonize Mr Scheer has not worked … yet. I suspect we can count on it being intensified.
But this …
… which, as far as I can see, is consistent with what other opinion research firms say, might mean that issues now matter more than the leaders. The issues include:
- The economy;
- The carbon tax; and
- Relations with the USA and China; and …
… it seems to me that all are issues about which Canadians are at least as likely, maybe even more likely to trust Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives as they are Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
My personal sense, as I said about a week ago, remains that “The Liberals are going to use the summer to try to paint Andrew Scheer as a socially conservative Christian who is anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-immigrant and, indeed, a racist and a closet white-supremacist … they are going to succeed, up to a point, because, up to another point, he is some of those things and the true bits make the lies easier to sell.” The Conservatives need to counter-attack, not by denying that Mr Scheer is a “socially conservative Christian” who is, like millions of other Canadians, personally, conflicted about issues like gay rights and abortion, but rather by saying that:
- He is, as Stephen Harper was, a fundamentally honest and decent family man and, above all, a sensible politician who does not want to reopen any of the gay rights or abortion debates. His own, personal views are just that: personal. His firmly held political position is that these are settled issues; there is no going back and there is no point in debating them further; and
- Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, is an ethically challenged, über-entitled, intellectual lightweight who is pandering to one or two ethnic communities in ways that damage our foreign relations (with India) and threaten our internal security (Da’esh/ISIL/ISIS fighters, illegal migrants and border control), who doesn’t understand the working class, who never saw a tax he didn’t like and who scorns our wounded veterans.
On the issues, notwithstanding the scorn being heaped on his environmental policy by all and sundry, the Conservatives should continue to roll out moderate, sensible, low-cost platform planks that will, simultaneously:
- Appeal to working and middle-class voters in the suburbs, many of whom are “new Canadians” and who do worry about climate change but who must worry, even more, about how to stretch the money to the end of each month; and
- Not alienate the solid Conservative base in rural and small-town Canada.
Those issues matter, perhaps they will move the numbers which appear equally unfavourable to Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives and to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. On the specific issue of immigration, the Conservatives need to promise to regain control of our border ~ stopping the flow of illegal migrants ~ while still managing a fair, colour-blind immigration system. It is important to not pander to the (sometimes racist) anti-immigrant, even nativist fringe ~ leave them to Maxime Bernier; but it is equally important to reassure ordinary, working-class Canadians that on immigration, as on all policies, Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives put Canada’s and Canadians’ vital interests first.