Turnout at advance polls over the weekend was 25 per cent higher than in the 2015 election. Either this campaign is generating more interest than appears to be the case, or some Canadians are eager to get it out of the way, the better to tune out any more election ads.
When it comes to clogging up the airwaves, the Conservatives have been leading the charge, but the attack ads and related partisan chatter are open to all. Justin Trudeau isn’t up for the job. Andrew Scheer is a front for Doug Ford. Jagmeet Singh just wants somebody to notice he’s around.
After an impressive win in 2015, Trudeau is in something of a freefall, one of his own making. The SNC Lavalin scandal is the most noticeable ties to the corrupt system of governance we’ve been living under for years, but there’s also the issue of endless pandering, endless deficits and endless embrace of causes – he’s yet to meet one he couldn’t call friend and invite over for dinner on the taxpayers’ dime.
Speaking of dimes, Scheer is all about promising to let you keep a few more in your pocket. The Conservatives have distilled their messaging down to tax savings for demographics they think will bring them votes.
Singh’s message has been a return to the traditional working-class appeals, along with making him out to be a regular guy, just like you, the voter he wants to see at the polling station voting for the NDP.
Polls now show the Liberals are in minority government position, with the Conservatives picking up many votes of those disaffected by the last four years. The NDP is also projected to lose almost half of the 44 seats the party won in 2015, largely to a reborn Bloc Quebecois in the second-largest province and perhaps to the Greens, who are making ground in British Columbia.
Here in Kitchener-Conestoga, currently held by Conservative Harold Albrecht, the riding is leaning towards the incumbent. Voting patterns are such that only the Liberals under Tim Louis have a realistic shot of unseating the Conservative candidate – the riding had been Liberal prior to the 2006 election that sent Albrecht to Ottawa. The race between the two was exceedingly close in 2015, with Albrecht taking 43.3 per cent of the vote to Louis’ 42.8.
Few of us, however, vote for the local candidate, opting for the party instead. On that front, either choice between the Liberals and Conservatives is ultimately destructive for middle-class Canadians, whose incomes and standard of living have been eroding under neoliberal ideologies.
There are likely to be changes in the voting map this time out, but with just a few days until we go to the polls, major swings in core support are not in the cards.
Of course, each party’s fate depends on the leadership. Trudeau has been less than stellar in the top job, though he’s generally made a favourable impression on the world stage. Scheer is an unknown quantity who appears to be trying to avoid Doug Ford’s shadow while downplaying the party’s history. While former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair was seen as able and earnest, he failed to appeal to a wide public; Singh has yet to even garner that much attention from Canadians, meaning the party is likely stuck with just its core voters.
Elizabeth May is a bright spot, taking aim at the status quo and daring to speak the truth on a range of issues – from oil wars to economics – on which others repeat the same tired lies. But while the Greens could make some inroads on the West Coast, she has no chance of becoming prime minister at any rate.
The battle really comes down to Trudeau versus Scheer, except in those rare cases when the local candidate matters to enough voters.