So, three things caught my eye today:
- First was a very informative piece in Politico about who has the power to “make or break” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2021. Not surprisingly a lot of Liberal ministers are there, especially some, like Patty Hajdu and Anita Anand who are in the news for less than stellar performances on the COVID-19 file, as are some provincial premiers and some very, very powerful unelected people like the PM’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, and Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem. Jagmeet Singh is there because in a minority government he has the power to keep Prime Minister Trudeau in power, or not. Erin O’Toole is there, too, but as the article notes, he has faced an uphill battle in making himself known to and trusted by Canadians, especially in vote rich Ontario;
- Second, is a survey by the Angus Reid Institute which has some prettty bad news for Mr O’Toole:
- 35% of decide voters intend to support the Liberals versus only 30% who intend to support the Conservatives. There might be a slight silver lining ~ the poll was published on Wednesday morning which means that the soundings were taken a week or so earlier, before the full impact of Justin Trudeau’s monumental failure to secure adequate vaccines for Canada registered, but
- Fully 46% of respondents have either an unfavourable or very unfavourable impression of Mr O’Toole. That’s just about the same as those who moderately or strongly disapprove of Prime Minister Trudeau (48%) but Mr O’Toole’s “positives” (only 32%) are much lower than the prime minister’s (50%); and
- Third, in an article in the Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson says that Erin O’Toole “is clearly trying to rebrand his party. The question is whether he will succeed. The odds, in the short run at least, are against him.“
The key is in this, from Mr Ibbitson: “Mr. O’Toole and his advisers understand in a way the previous leader, Andrew Scheer, never did that Conservatives cannot win government without winning suburban Ontario. Most of the West and rural Ontario voted Conservative in the last six elections. They are the base. But to govern, the Tories must win in places such as Mississauga, Vaughan, Ajax and other ridings that surround Toronto.” But the Angus Reid Institute poll says that …
… in BC the Liberals lead by a statistically significant margin (5%) and in all-important Ontario the Liberal lead is HUGE (13%). In other words, Erin O’Toole is not, yet, doing what he must do to win which, in my opinion, is to “flip” 35 Ontario seats from Liberal to Conservative. That has happened before, but it’s not going to happen when there is a 13% polling gap in the wrong direction.
I agree fully, see more, tomorrow, with Mr O’Toole’s decisions to move the Conservative Party back towards the middle.
But, some Conservative supporters are upset by that. Some of them thought, and still think that Donald Trump was right for America and that his policies and politics were right for Canada, too. They are wrong. Fortunately they are a minority within the Conservative Party but we saw, in 2019, how easily the party can be divided. I will not be surprised if some Conservatives abandon the party and follow e.g. Mr Sloan and M Bernier. They will be missed and they will end up voiceless in parliament but their loss may be the price that Erin O’Toole has to pay to turn Ontario blue, again, as it was just ten years ago:
And, make no mistake, that is what must happen if Conservatives want to replace Justin Trudeau and give Canada a responsible, respectable, ethical, honest and competent government. There are 55+ seats in the Greater Toronto Area ~ more than in Alberta and Saskatchewan combined. The so-called Golden Horseshoe area (Greater Toronto plus Niagara and the South-West) has almost as many seats (90+) as the Conservatives won in ALL of Canada from the Pacific coast to the Ontario/Quebec border (108) in 2019. Many of those Ontario seats (70± out of 121) are winnable IF the Conservatives are perceived to be a moderate party. Right now, the evidence of the Reid poll and Mr Ibbitson’s analysis suggests that they are not. That must change.
Few Conservative, including me, will be 100% in accord with everything Erin O’Toole must say and do to win over Ontario’s voters. But, ALL Conservatives who really want to give Canada better government must unite behind him. I will hold my tongue when he says something with which I disagree on principle, as he has already done, and continue my support because Canada must be rid of Justin Trudeau. That’s the stark but simple choice: the prime minister we have, the one who we know is ruining our country, or the moderate, honest guy from Ontario who is trying to win over the mushy middle.