With today starting the third week of Canada’s federal election, the governing Liberals find themselves behind in the polls for the first time. This election was supposed to be a slam dunk; their strategists must be going nuts.
The party seems to be bent on self destruction. Here are two examples from the past week.
Party leader Justin Trudeau harshly criticized Conservative leader Erin O’Toole for not requiring all his party’s candidates to be vaccinated against COVID-19. O’Toole, while stressing the importance of vaccination in fighting the pandemic also stresses the importance of choice. It seemed to be an area where Trudeau could score some political points, given Canadians’ fears about the spread of the virus.
Then late in the week it was discovered that not all Liberal candidates are vaccinated. Trudeau said some were still in the process. No details were given. Reporters questions went unanswered. He didn’t explain why he had not required all his candidates to be vaccinated. It certainly didn’t look good as Trudeau surrendered whatever moral high ground he might have had.
An even bigger gaffe perhaps came from the Minister of Women and Gener Equality who was adressing the situation in Afghanistan, her homeland. She referred to the Taliban as “brothers” before beating a hasty retreat when reporters questioned her. She said it was a cultural thing.
I believe her – though I think the reference was more religious than cultural. But it caused the Liberal Party damage. The Taliban are considered by the Government (and people) of Canada to be a terrorist organization, not “brothers.” Canadian soldiers fought and died in Afghanistan so girls could go to school, something not allowed under the Taliban. Culture or not, there is no reason for a Canadian cabinet minister to reference the Taliban as “brothers.”
The Liberal slide in the polls hasn’t been large, but their numbers are down while both the Conservatives and the NDP are seeing a slight rise. For Liberals the concern is that this has been an ongoiing trend that might continue.
This being Canada, national numbers don’t tell the whole story. Our national election is 338 local battles. Small changes in ridings where one party or another has a commanding lead don’t mean much.
At this point though I am wondering if my expecation of a Liberal landslide was wrong. If they keep self-destructing at their current rate Canada will see a change of government next month.
Even now Justin Trudeau must be wondering about the wisdom of holding an election during a pandemic – something he said back in May that nobody wanted. His mandate ran until October 2023.
He still hasn’t explained why he changed his mind. I wonder if he ever will.