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The politics of an early federal election coming early

Posted on 11 August 2021 by Ryan Dahlman

It seems kind of ironic that voters are at the very least mildly surprised about the (strong) possibility of an early federal election.

The pandemic has been on everyone’s minds in many respects — both out of fear medically or pure anger and frustration from a business and lifestyle point of view — the thought of of having to vote in a federal election isn’t exactly on top of people’s daily priority lists.

The next election officially has to take place no later than Oct. 16, 2023. That’s two years from now so with everything that has gone on recently, a federal election is the amongst the bottom tier in a list of people’s must activities.

In recent years federal elections are kind of predictable in the sense of what will happen in Eastern Canada. With the political system the way it is with the electoral map divided into 338 seats, the elections are decided by how Ontario and Quebec vote. Ontario has 121 seats with 25 in Toronto alone. Quebec has 78 seats whereas Alberta with 34 and Saskatchewan with 14. In southwest Sask. and in Southern Alberta, other than maybe Lethbridge, it is often a foregone conclusion in recent decades that the Conservatives/Progressive Conservative candidate was a shoe-in to win. Why bother voting if you already know who is going to win locally?  Do your due diligence and vote, be counted, but it can be a source of frustration at times. 

Throw in the fact that in Alberta, municipal civic elections are being held Oct. 18 and a possible federal vote is somewhere around there too, there is something about going to a polling station and ticking a box which seems to be a major inconvenience: 2019-67%; 2015 (68.3%);2011 (61.1%); 2008 (58.8%) 2006 (64.7); 2004 (60.9%).

Despite the voter burnout, the Liberals don’t have a full and free mandate sitting as a minority government. The Liberal don’t want to wait. 

There’s a number of reasons why there’s talk of an early election, it is pointing to one reason: the polls, both internally and public. 

According to an average of public opinion polls done by the CBC ( consisting of Abacus Data, Angus Reid Institute, Canadian Press, EKOS Research and Ipsos (to name a few), the federal Liberals are at 35.3 per cent; Conservatives are 28.8; New Democrats; 19.4; Bloc Quebecois 6.8 and Greens are 4.6% This was last updated Aug. 6.

So being in a minority government, which is always tenuous at best as the opposition parties can come to together and force a non-confidence note thus ousting the present government.

However, no one wants to push an election that because the Opposition parties would have done that by now. Forcing an election during the pandemic wouldn’t be a smart move. 

All these parties have their own internal polling agencies so they know if they have a chance to get elected. Say what you want about the Liberals, they have a well oiled, expert political bureaucratic machine which knows how to win elections. They believe the time is now. 

The federal Liberals are going around to what events there are in urban areas, almost campaign style. Justin Trudeau was in Calgary at a few different rallies with retiring Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Nenshi is rumoured to be gaining a Senate appointment down the road. Alberta hasn’t had the best history with the federal government with transfer payments, National Energy Policy and yes, even Senate appointments. Quebec notwithstanding, Alberta and Saskatchewan are always the geographical areas where there is dissension to the point of talk of separation so if the Liberals can making some headway with the provincial Conservatives not being popular right now, the strategy is to strike while the iron is hot. 

The Liberals are leading as Canadians have approved of how they handled the Covid situation and how they have spent a lot of money in different programs to keep the economy going and fund programs for those hurt economically. 

The Liberals are good at spending and while pandemic restrictions hurt many businesses, there seemed to be a lot of safety net programs.

They have gained more support because of Covid. There will never be a better time for them. Many voters are not fans of Conservation leader Erin O’Toole; NDP leader Jagmeet Sign is popular on TikTok with younger voters but not in a lot of other areas, the Bloc are solid in Quebec period and the Greens have gone through a extremely ugly leadership battle with the ousting of Elizabeth May following the take over by Annamie Paul. Party executives are taking Paul to court over a series of disagreements, disputes and mistrust. Much of the old staff have left and one of their three elected MPs crossed the floor to sit with the Liberals. 

Chaos in all the parties but one which is saying something with all of the issues the Liberals faced early in the mandate. Everyone wondered how they would survive with Trudeau’s memorable, yet not so positive quotes; the family trip to India; his failing to get the United Nations appointment, fighting with Donald Trump and of course the ugly Blackface photo and the controversial ousting of Attorny General Jody WIlson-Raybould following the SNC-Lavalin situation. The Canadian ethics commissioner said Trudeau violated federal conflict of interest rules when Wilson said she felt veiled threatened by Trudea.

All of that has disappeared. 

Sharpen your pencils voters, we are going to the polls. 

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