Today kicks off the second week of Canada’s federal election campaign. So what has happened in the first seven days of this five-week marathon that ends September 20?
I’ve been a little surprised at the performance of the governing Liberals. There seems to be a general media consensus that there is no reason for this pandemic election except that the Prime Minister wants a majority. That perception may come back to hurt them as the campaign continues. Not everyone thinks an election campaign during a pandemic is a good idea.
The Liberals have also had their share of negative stories, such as the one about the candidate in Calgary who last year disparaged the idea of vaccination against COVID-19. Given the Liberal emphasis on pandemic response and that everone should be vaccinated, that has to be embarrassing.
The Prime Minister didn’t seem embarrassed by his refusal to answer a question about inflation and fiscal policy. His curious phrasing, “you’ll forgive me if I don’t think about monetary policy,” may not be forgiven by the voters. I wondered if perhaps he hadn’t understood the question – and certainly the head of government should show some concern about fiscal policy. Mind you, he never has before, so why start now?
Trudeau also looked bad when he had to admit that Canada would not be able to get as many Afghan refugees as he had promised. Apparently he hadn’t considered that the Taliban might not let them go.
Still, the Liberals are comfortably ahead in the polls, which is one of the reasons we are voting now. Waiting might bring about a Liberal drop in popularity as the pandemic drags on and on.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has not yet shown much momentum on the campaign trail – but he did manage to dodge a couple of first-week bullets. That’s something his predecessor didn’t manage in the last election.
When asked about both abortion and climate change, O’Toole took a stance that was basically the same as Trudeau, which should prevent the other parties from gaining much traction on those issues. O’Toole may have alienated some in his own party with his positions, but he probably made some gains with the undecided who worry about Conservative policies.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh seems to have gotten through the week without making any errors, though his polling numbers make it difficult to see the NDP as a possible government. As for the Green Party leader, I’m sure she must have been campaigning, but I didn’t see any coverage.
A month ago I thought this election would be a foregone conclusion. Justin Trudeau has been the Teflon politician throughout his career – no matter how bad the scandal, the dirt washes off. I saw no reason to believe this year would be any different.
Today though, I wonder. It is early of course, but it doesn”t seem like the Liberals have much in the way of vision or direction for Canada. They could lose this election.
Mind you, for that to happen one of the other party leaders has to somehow capture the public imagination. That didn’t happen this past week. I wonder if it will in the next seven days.