Local vote may reflect tightness of federal election

Local voters join other Canadians at the ballot box on Monday.

Polls show the Liberals and Conservatives are running neck-and-neck, each with about 31 per cent of the vote. Models predict that the most likely outcome of next week’s election is another Liberal minority government.

ThreeHundredEight.com founder Éric Grenier, a polls analyst for CBC, finds there’s a 56 per cent chance the Liberals will win the most seats, but not the 171 needed to form a majority. He says there’s a 16 per cent chance  of a Liberal majority. There’s a 27 per cent chance of a Conservative minority win, while a majority win is given just a one per cent chance.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called an early election ostensibly as a referendum on where Canadians want to go in a post-pandemic environment, even as the country works through a fourth wave of COVID-19. Now, voters get to have their say.

Will they reward the Liberals for what has generally been a favourable review of the government’s handling of the pandemic, or opt for change, for its own sake or for other government missteps since the Liberals returned in 2015?

Currently holding the balance of power in a minority Parliament, the NDP has the most to lose, as the party has not been resonating with Canadians. The Green Party, too, has had trouble connecting with voters since the departure of leader Elizabeth May, but they could benefit from ever-increasing concerns about climate change.

Pollsters and political scientists alike will be watching to see what happens with the People’s Party of Canada. A non-factor in 2019, Maxime Bernier’s party has surged in the polls – to more than six per cent in some cases, up from one or two previously – and pundits will be looking to see if that translates into votes. And if those votes end up splitting support on the right.

Analysts attribute the PPC uptick to the pandemic, though not entirely to anti-vaxxers and those opposed to restrictions such as mask mandates. Pollsters see supporters coming from other parties for some other reasons given that the pandemic has shifted the public mood.

If election signs are any indication, PPC candidate Kevin Dupuis has garnered some attention. He’s been taking his message door-to-door, and has also been visible – sometimes controversially on issues such as the environment and LGBTQ+ issues – via candidates’ forums, something his Conservative counterpart, Carlene Hawley, has shied away from. Hawley, in fact, appears to have been under some kind of communications blanket, seldom taking part in events and generally avoiding media inquiries.

Both the Green Party’s Owen Bradley and the NDP’s Narine Dat Sookram have been visible and available, despite opting to avoid door-to-door campaigning due to COVID-19 concerns. Bradley, in particular, has been very active online, turning to social media not only to push his candidacy but to call out the tactics and positions of some of his rivals.

Incumbent Tim Louis has been running the most traditional of campaign, knocking on doors seven days a week, albeit with pandemic precautions in place. He’s also taking part in forums and made himself available throughout the campaign.

In that, his effort on the hustings mirrors his work as an MP since first being elected in 2019. He’s been active in both retail politics – getting out to events and meeting with constituents as often as possible, despite the restrictions of the past 18 months – and in Ottawa. His campaign is quick to point out that the more than $100 million delivered to the riding in the past two years exceeds what the previous Conservative MP did in 14 years.

Given Louis’ efforts and the commitment he brings to the job, he deserves re-election by the people of Kitchener-Conestoga.

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