And The Winner Will Be…

Canadians choose a new government today. In theory anyway.

As I write this, the polls will be open for another few hours, and then the counting begins. Given how close the tally is expected to be, and with a million mail-in ballots that won’t be counted before Tuesday, it may be a few days before we know one way or another who will be Prime Minister.

Despite the uncertainty, I’m going to make some predictions on the outcome. It is more fun that way. If I outguess the polls I’ll look brilliant. If I’m completely wrong you can laugh at me. I certainly will laugh at myself.

The polls have this as a very close election, with a Liberal minority the most likely outcome given the relative strengths and weaknesses of each party across the country. The Liberals won’t do well in the west becasue they rarely do. The Conservatives will be lucky to keep the few seats they have in Quebec. So goes conventional wisdom.

I’m going to be unconventional. I’m thinking the polls could be wrong. That is a gut feeling, based on no scientific information whatsoever, from someone who has lived outside the country for four years.

All the reporting I’ve seen on the polling numbers in this election have not mentioned the undecided. Yet it is those votes that will decide who becomes Prime Minister.

There are many Canadians who support one party or another and wouldn’t consider voting for a candidate from any other party. Those are the ones most likely to answer pollsters questions.

There are millions though who make up their mind on election day or just before. They don’t show up in the polls. I think in this election they do have an issue that will affect their vote: the pandemic.

In July I was predicting that the Liberals would be returned to government with a majority. At that time I wasn’t expecting a vote until at least late October. That Justin Trudeau went for the earlier date might indicate party support was already slipping.

Trudeau wanted the election to be about the pandemic and the skillful way his party has handled it. He figured voters should and would reward him. (To me that seemed like extreme hubris. Did he think people don’t remember the botched vaccine acquisitions? The contradictory government messaging? His personal ethics scandals? His promise not to hold an election during a pandemic? May he is so self-righteous that he doesn’t see the failings of his government any more than his own sins.)

I think though that undecided voters, the ones who go to the polls on election day, are going to reject the idea of a $650 million diollar election campaign during what the government has labeled a health crisis. To express their disgust they will vote for anyone but the Liberals.

Given that the polls in British Columbia don’t close until midnight in my time zone, I expect to have a late night. But if you want to get to sleep early, here’s some things to watch for from eastern Canada.

At dissolution, the Conservative Party held no seats in both Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. Even a gain of one in those traditionally Liberal provinces would suggest a shift away from the Liberals. In Nova Scotia the Conservatives hold one of the 11 seats. My guess is the party will win nationally if they up that to six and at the same time increase their count in New Brunswick from three to five. I’d do a breakdown of the other regions, but the east is the key – the rest of the country will follow any shift there.

My head still says the Liberals should win. My gut says the pollsters are wrong. So let’s go with the gut in making a prediction.

When the votes are counted, the Conservatives will have more seats than the Liberals. Ordinarily that would mean a Conservative government, probably a minority.

This year could be different though. The NDP have expressed a willingness to continue to support the Liberals. I have not seen them suggest that they would support a Conservative government. The Bloc Quebecois will support anyone who will allow Quebec greater autonomy – though they seem to favor the Conservatives a bit more.

Which means who becomes Prime Minister might come down to how many MPs the third and fourth place parties manage to elect and who they support for the top job.

My gut is still telling me the Conservatives will come out on top and Erin o’Toole will lead a minority government. My head, with that Political Science degree and years of working in politics, says we are in for a couple more years at least of Justin Trudeau, whether Canada can afford it or not.

Anyone else want to get a prediction in before the polls close?

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