Campbell Clark, writing in the Globe and Mail, says that “This wasn’t the end of snap-election dramas. It was the beginning.“
“We have,” he says “just entered the period of minority-Parliament power games that can end in an election campaign. That means the odds are that there will be a federal vote in months, rather than years ..[and] … We now know that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is willing to risk an election. More than that: If Mr. Trudeau thinks the window is open for him to win an election, he will worry it won’t be open for long. The opposition parties know that, too.” Therefore, he says, the countdown to the next election ~ likely in the spring of 2021? ~ has begun.
It must be clear to everyone, now, even to the most die-had Liberal supporter, that Justin Trudeau doesn’t care a damn about the threat that the COVID-19 virus poses to Canadians; he also doesn’t give a damn about the country’s finances. His one and only focus is on retaining power and that, it seems, is only to ensure that something really very damaging cannot be made public about him and his family and his associates.
There are three important factors:
- The Conservatives think they have issues ~ ethics and even possible criminality ~ that will be sufficient to bring Prime Minister Trudeau down. I’m not so so sure. The polling seems to suggest that Canadians still like M Trudeau better than they like Mr O’Toole and, inexplicably, to me, they think he’s been doing a good job in steering Canada through the pandemic;
- “On Wednesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh found himself saying the Prime Minister wanted an election but the NDP wanted him to continue governing. That works in the second wave of a pandemic, but not indefinitely.” Sooner or late the NDP will have to withdraw its support or risk being totally sidelined by the Liberals; and
- “More importantly, Mr. Trudeau is up for an election now. In a few months, he might just call it himself. If he thinks there is an opportunity, he will worry it will slip away.“
This election will be won in Ontario, especially in the suburbs around Toronto. Right now Mr Clark says, “The latest Nanos Research tracking poll puts the Liberals on the edge of majority-government territory, with 38.5 per cent saying they would vote for Mr. Trudeau’s party – six points ahead of the Conservatives, but with a commanding lead in Ontario.“
The key challenge for Erin O’Toole is to cut into that lead but he is not yet well enough known and it is harder to campaign ~ to get our and meet people ~ in the midst of a pandemic, but Campbell Clark says “Right now, Mr. Trudeau’s chief opponent, Mr. O’Toole, is still new … [but] … the Liberals know that if their popularity dips, the opposition won’t hesitate to defeat them and trigger an election. For Mr. Trudeau, it is dangerous to wait too long.“
It is in Jagmeet Singh’s (and Canada’s) best interests to keep Parliament working for another few months … until the second wave is over, likely (once can hope) in the spring of 2021. By then the Conservatives hope and the Liberals fear Mr O’Toole will be better known and liked and Prime Minister Trudeau’s ethics might be more of a problem and before things can get too bad he will, in say early April ask the Governor General to call an election for mid May.
Mr Clark says that “Mr. Trudeau has signalled that he’s willing to gamble on an election. His opponents have to assume he won’t wait much longer.” My guess is that opposition can manage to keep Parliament sitting through the winter even as it rants and screams about inevitable government stonewalling and obfuscation. I think that Prime Minister Trudeau will have to table a financial update in November and bring down a budget in February. Both may make Canadians, especially working and middle class Canadians in those all-important suburbs, think less favourably about the Trudeau-Liberals. I hope that someone, maybe a Liberal MP, more likely a public servant will leak the details of one of the many problems facing Prime Minister Trudeau right now ~ the WE Charity thing, the sole source multi-hundred million dollar contract to a Liberal insider, or the competence of the Health Minister. Too much “progress” on any of those issues might prompt Prime Minister Trudeau to go to the polls even earlier. He doesn’t ned to engineer a confidence motion. He can go to the Governor General at any time and she is unlikely to deny him his election.
The Conservative Party needs to:
- Keep pressing the ethics and competence issues in Parliament to give the media fresh, new (the news has to be new) exciting fact about how poorly Justin Trudeau is managing Canada’s affairs;
- Make Erin O’Toole better know and better liked ~ especially in suburban Ontario; and, as a consequence of running an expensive pre-election publicity campaign
- Raise even more money. That’s harder to do right now because many Canadians are worried about every penny.
Ordinary Canadians, of all political stripes, need to pay attention to what is happening in Parliament. They need to ask themselves: why has there not been a budget or a financial statement for so very long? Why are the Liberals stonewalling (filibustering) committees? Why can the government not explain how contracts are awarded? And ordinary Canadians who care about their children’s futures and their country’s future need to donate what they can to the Conservative Party of Canada to help it put Justin Trudeau on the political trash heap, where he belongs, and to make Erin O’Toole the prime minister of Canada.