According to a report in the Toronto Sun, “There hasn’t been a major shift in voter support in the wake of an ethics commissioner report [on the prime minister’s ethical failing regarding] SNC-Lavalin, but the latest numbers still don’t look good for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.” Many Canadians, it appears to me, made up their minds about Justin Trudeau, LavScam, Jody Wilson-Raybould and ethics back in February and March when support for the Liberal Party fell precipitously.
The article goes on to say that “Numbers released exclusively to the Toronto Sun from the DART & Maru/Blue Voice Canada poll show that while Trudeau’s Liberals are holding steady, the number of people thinking they deserve to be re-elected remains surprisingly low … [and] … Nationally, the Conservatives sit at 39%, up two points from the last poll in July but that bump is primarily due to an increase in support in places like Alberta where the party is expected to sweep. The Liberals hold steady at 32% support, buoyed by very strong numbers in Atlantic Canada and the NDP is at 15% nationally.“
It might not be surprising that the Liberals are doing well in Atlantic Canada …
… I said a little more than a week ago, and back in mid-July, that Liberals are crisscrossing the country in the pre-writ period, to campaign on the taxpayer’s dime, by making spending announcements. Now, given Justin Trudeau’s record on keeping his promises, I doubt that many of those spending promises will be kept but buying Canadians’ votes with their own money is an old Canadian political tradition.
But that’s not the only polling data. There’s also these, more sobering numbers for Conservatives, reported by Global News:
The Global News report quotes Mike Colledge, president of Ipsos Public Affairs, who said ““I think the eight weeks of coverage we had in the spring of the SNC-Lavalin affair really solidified things for people and I think what we saw last week was a confirmation of public views, so we saw very little change.”” I agree with that.
Other polling data, aggregated by 338Canada, also seems to suggest a dead heat:
Many analysts say, and I agree, that for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals a tie is as good as a win.
As I explained before, the Trudeau Liberals can finish second and still hold on to power. I quoted John Ibbitson who said that ““A minority government [is] most likely, with the Prime Minister beholden to Jagmeet Singh’s NDP and/or Elizabeth May’s Greens and/or Yves-François Blanchet’s Bloc Québécois for his survival from vote to vote … [but, he noted] … considering how bleak the prospects seemed for the Liberals in the midst of the SNC-Lavalin scandal a few months ago, any Liberal strategist would take a minority government and say thank you.“” That is, I suspect, the Liberal plan as we enter the campaign, proper, in a couple of weeks: win a minority, if they can, or even finish with a strong enough second-place position to allow them to retain the confidence of the House, by pandering to the Bloc Québécois, the Greens and the NDP on the basis that they will get something, likely only table scraps, from the Liberals but nothing at all from the Conservatives. Jagmeet Singh, conceding defeat and declaring the NDP irrelevant before the campaign even begins, has already said those scraps are enough for him.
This was the “tie” scenario I painted about six or seven weeks ago:
- Conservatives: 135 – 165 seats ~ the most seats, but short of a majority;
- Greens: 5-15 seats;
- Liberals: 125-130 seats ~ fewer than the CPC but enough to govern;
- NDP: 25± seats;
- Others: 8± seats; and
- Québec nationalists: 10-15 seats.
That’s the nightmare scenario for Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives: they win the popular vote, even a potentially very strong minority (160+ seats) (170 are needed for a majority) but Justin Trudeau hangs on by meeting the House ~ he’s still prime minister until he resigns and the Governor-General is duty-bound to recall the House if he asks ~ and he and his Liberals, with, say, only 125 seats wins a confidence vote because 10 Greens, 25 Dippers, 10 Bloquistes and one or two others (that’s 171 or 172, a slim majority) decide that he’s more likely to advance their interests than is Andrew Scheer. That might seem unlikely to some, but, in 2008 it almost happened …
… but, in 2008, too many Liberals could not stomach making common cause with the separatist Bloc Québecois. I don’t think Justin Trudeau would face that opposition from within, and I believe that Team Trudeau will do almost anything to hang on to power.
The polls may not have asked what I believe might be the key questions:
- Do you think Justin Trudeau is honest and ethical? and
- Do you trust Justin Trudeau to keep his promises?
It seems to me that Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, at somewhere between 32% and 39% in the polls, have gone about as far as he seems able to lead them; and the polling also seems to suggest that, at somewhere between 25% and 30%, the Trudeau Liberals have fallen about as far as they will go; that is given the questions being asked. But it may be that the polls have not asked Canadians the real ballot question: who do you trust?
According to the Toronto Sun article: “Asked whether they agreed with the statement that, “the Liberals under Justin Trudeau have done a good job and deserve to be re-elected,” just 26% said yes.” John Wright, who conducted the DART & Maru/Blue Voice Canada poll for Sun Media, said ““It goes to the momentum to get people out” … [and, for the Liberals] … “There’s no momentum” … [and, he added] … “You throw governments out, you don’t vote new ones in and right now the momentum to throw this government out is massive.”” There’s no momentum to get many Liberal supporters out to vote, and there is considerable momentum to “throw the rascals out,” but the key question is: can Andrew Scheer build momentum to get people out to vote for him? Most of the polls seem to say “No.”
It seems to me that Andrew Scheer has, already, beaten Justin Trudeau, handily, on policy grounds. He has released sensible, achievable foreign policy, environmental policy and social policy proposals. He, unlike Prime Minister Trudeau, is on the right side of the China-Hong Kong issue. But none of those seems to have captured public attention. The media has been either silent or, in case of e.g. the CBC and The Star, Canada’s largest media outlets, dismissive or downright anti-Conservative. The Liberals counter-offensive, linking Andrew Scheer to some unpopular Doug Ford moves, and fear-mongering about abortion and not marching in a gay-pride parade has worked a bit, maybe it has worked enough.
Mr Scheer needs to continue to make himself better known, he needs to show Canadians that he is an honest, ethical family man with solid, even stolid middle-class values that many of them share; and he needs to make better use of his team. He needs to get less stolid moderates like Erin O’Toole and Michelle Rempel out on the national hustings to reinforce his positions on some key issues and to reassure Canadians that neither social programmes nor fundamental rights ~ abortion, gay rights, etc ~ are threatened by an Andrew Scheer government.
Most Canadians have, I suspect, made up their minds about Justin Trudeau. Chantal Hébert of The Star says that …
… polls suggest that the PM still commands a large and loyal corps of supporters. But, Canadians (74% of them, according to polls) don’t trust him; they know that he is unethical and, perhaps, even corrupt. But they, those same Canadians (about ⅔ of them, anyway) still don’t believe that Andrew Scheer is right for them or for Canada. That needs to change if Mr Scheer wants to win. In my opinion, anything less than a working majority (175± seats) Conservative government must be deemed to be a failure for Andrew Scheer. If he cannot win a majority against a weak, dishonest, unethical trust-fund kid like Justin Trudeau then he must step aside.