Canada: Federal Election 2021

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REMINDER 170 seats required for a majority
At dissolution, the Liberals held 155 seats in the House of Commons, while the Conservatives had 119, the Bloc Québécois 32, the New Democrats 24 and the Green Party two. Five seats were held by Independents.
Notable winners and losers in the 2021 federal election

22 September
Vote counting continues in 13 ridings still too close to call (4:56 pm)
Two days after the election mail-in ballots are still being counted, the Liberals have a projected 158 seats; the Conservatives 117 elected, down two from before. but leading in two. The NDP are projected to gain one seat (25), the Bloc Quebecois two. The Greens are still stuck at two.
Canada’s election has weakened all its party leaders
The new parliament looks strikingly like the last, but the election had the curious effect of weakening every Canadian party leader not just Justin Trudeau.
Professor Roland Paris, Associate Fellow, US and the Americas Programme (based in Canada)
(Chatham House) Although the prime minister averted a looming disaster in the middle of the campaign when the opposition Conservative Party overtook his Liberal Party in the polls, he emerges from the election a victorious yet diminished figure. His party will continue to stand by him – he won, after all – but questions about his future electoral prospects are likely to return.
… Trudeau now returns to the work of managing the pandemic and implementing campaign promises such as a subsidized, national day-care system and stronger climate change policies. On these issues he can count on support from Singh and Blanchet, so his minority government can be expected to be stable.
He has also promised a ‘comprehensive Asia-Pacific strategy to deepen diplomatic, economic, and defence partnerships in the region’ which is both necessary and long overdue as Canada’s last comprehensive, international strategy was devised 16 years ago.
Lawrence Martin: If anyone should be stepping down, it’s the likeable Jagmeet Singh
He is a fine man with a deep social conscience who is well liked. But it doesn’t translate to votes.
For the NDP to grow, it is essential that the party have a base in Quebec. Jack Layton worked determinedly (along with Tom Mulcair) to build one and won a remarkable 59 seats there in 2011. The NDP became the Official Opposition party, reducing the Liberals to third place until the Trudeau appeal revived it in the 2015 election.
In Quebec, the party’s one member is the impressive Alexandre Boulerice, who, if interested, could make a strong leader. The party holds a leadership review every two years. At the next one it should carefully size up Mr. Singh’s prospects. They do not look promising.
Many Canadians angry after election produces a $610M bill and not much change
(CBC) While some argue the democratic process is never pointless, the $610-million price tag for the election crossed a line for many Canadians, who wrote to Ask CBC News to share their frustrations with the election that Trudeau had asked for. Many called it a waste of time and resources, especially when the country is dealing with a ballooning deficit, a fourth wave of COVID-19, not to mention a climate crisis in need of urgent action.
Voter turnout for Canada’s 2021 federal election near historic lows
Across the country, turnout was at least 59 per cent. That figure will change as Elections Canada verifies roughly a million ballots cast by mail. The agency will also be counting ballots by those who were not registered but showed up at a polling station. Both those totals are not yet known.

Kelly McParland: Future of Trudeau, O’Toole uncertain even as Parliament remains much the same
The irony is that after the arid meanderings of the campaign, it’s the aftermath that could get interesting. Trudeau called the vote for one reason only: to get a majority and rid himself of the inconvenience of opposition intrusions. He failed at that. Once again, based on initial counts, the Conservatives won the popular vote, by an even wider margin than last time. Only the concentration of the Liberal votes in two big urban centres kept them in office. How long will the country remain happy to be run at the behest of Toronto and Montreal?
Even as compliant a crew as the Liberal caucus may start questioning their faith in the man at the top. A Liberal spin doctor might argue — and probably will — that nothing was lost given that the government retained its position. That’s true enough if you disregard the time, effort and expenses of tens of thousands of people dedicated to little more than satisfying Justin Trudeau’s poor judgement. He might as well have had people digging holes, then filling them back in again.
NDP may hold the balance of power in Parliament
Jagmeet Singh and the New Democrats may hold the balance of power in the next Liberal minority government by playing a key role in helping pass confidence matters and key legislation.
Canadians have re-elected a Liberal minority government
Final seat tally may not look very different from composition of the House of Commons when it was dissolved
As of 2:30 a.m. ET, Liberal candidates were leading or elected in 157 ridings, the exact same number of seats that party won in the 2019 contest.
It’s a reversal of fortunes for Trudeau. He launched this campaign with a sizeable lead in the polls — only to see his support crater days later as many voters expressed anger with his decision to call an election during this health crisis. Two middling debate performances by Trudeau and renewed questions about past scandals also put a Liberal victory in question.
Liberals lose cabinet ministers Bernadette Jordan, Maryam Monsef but retain minority government
(CBC) Gerry Butts, the former principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said the results vindicated Trudeau’s decision to call the election despite his failure to win a majority.
Liberals projected to form minority government (10:35 pm)
(Global) Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is now projected to hold onto his role as prime minister — but Canadians appear to have voted in the federal election on Monday to keep requiring him to work with the other parties in order to govern in a second minority government.
The decision by voters returns the Liberals to power but does not grant them the four years of stability and power that a majority win would have conferred.
The Bloc Quebecois’ hopes of increasing its number of seats in the House of Commons were dashed as Liberals won another minority in Monday’s federal election.
Liberals win minority government in 2021 federal election
CTV News’ Decision Desk declared the Liberal minority win after polls closed across the country.
While long lines in some ridings mean voters could be casting ballots for hours more, early results show the Liberals elected or leading in 152 seats.
Canadians have re-elected a Liberal government, CBC News projects
It’s still too early to say whether it will be a minority or majority government

Elections Canada reports technical issues, polling station disruptions as Canadians cast their ballots
(CTV) Monday’s federal election saw a rocky start with some voters unable to locate their polling stations, an issue further exacerbated by a technical issue with an application on Election Canada’s website.
Those who tried to access Election Canada’s voter information service page – which allows voters to find their polling station by entering their postal code and address – were greeted with an error message early Monday.
“We were unable to find your voting location. Please call the office of the returning officer for assistance,” read the message, according to dozens of user reports on social media.

19 September
338Canada: The final polls are in, and they point to a slim Liberal victory
Philippe J. Fournier: It’s no sure win for the Liberals but the final 338Canada vote projection puts them at 146 seats (11 fewer than 2019), and the Conservatives at 127

18 September
Counting the cost of an unnecessary election
(Globe & Mail editorial) We have said it before and we will say it again: This election was unnecessary. Not illegal, not illegitimate, not unconstitutional – just profoundly unnecessary. Undesired by Canadians, and undesirable for Canada. A Liberal minority government was governing, and in no danger of falling; until the triggering of an election campaign, an election was the main thing the opposition parties were campaigning against.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau called an election anyhow, and the result has been five weeks of what has often felt like either a dangerous distraction from the issue of the moment – the pandemic, and all its consequences – or a cynical attempt to use the crisis as a partisan weapon.

THE political primer and not only for diplomats
What Diplomats Need to Know about Canadian Elections
Colin Robertson, CGAI Vice-President, & Maureen Boyd, Chair, Parliamentary Centre and CGAI Fellow

Federal Election 2021: 27 ridings to watch and why they’re important

Assuming current scenario holds, ‘we’re looking at a Liberal win,’ Nanos says
(CTV) Nanos said he suspects the Liberals’ path to victory will be similar to the one that won them the government during the 2019 federal election.
“In 2019, the Liberals lost the popular vote in a very, very tight race, but they actually won the government because of the distribution, the efficient distribution of seats that they had,” he explained.
Quebec Community Groups Network Urges English-speaking Quebecers to Vote for Best Local Candidate
“The Government of Canada has a duty to protect the rights of all Canadians and maintain the integrity
of our Constitution – but none of the parties and few of the candidate are speaking out or stepping up
to prevent Quebec from trampling our rights,” says QCGN President Marlene Jennings. … “None of the parties are showing the courage – or necessary vision – to defend our rights. Nor are there
signs of any fortitude or leadership to stand on guard for our Canada. So we have no alternative but to
urge all members of our community and all Quebecers to vote for the candidate in your own riding who
you believe will best represent you”.
Susan Delacourt: How did this strange election become a series of Heritage Minutes?
As if by some unspoken agreement, the Conservative and Liberal campaigns decided to haul a couple of past prime ministers out of retirement and put them on the election trail. Who knew that this strange election would plunge into heritage minutes in its dwindling days?
On Tuesday night, it was former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien turning up in Brampton, Ont. to lend his support to Justin Trudeau. … On Wednesday evening, Brian Mulroney appeared at the side of the Conservative leader, to tell Canadians what a great prime minister Erin O’Toole would be — a little like himself, if he didn’t mind saying so.
Mulroney did win big for the Conservatives, as he reminded O’Toole’s crowd, but he was also the prime minister who helped provoke the breakaway Reform Party
In this campaign, nearly 30 years later, the People’s Party of Canada has picked up that populist, protest mantle on the right. … The rise of the PPC has been one of the unexpected developments of this election campaign. It may not shatter the old Conservative party as Reform did, but it could cause enough vote splits to deny O’Toole the gains he needs to make.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, an early Reformer, also made life difficult for O’Toole this week, saying sorry, he misjudged COVID’s fourth wave and wildly unpopular restrictions were coming back to the province. This all could cost Kenney his job [and] It may hurt O’Toole, too.
Andrew Coyne: This was no ordinary election campaign, but perhaps not ‘important’
For Mr. O’Toole, in short, the problem was his base; for Mr. Trudeau, it was him.
If the polls are to be believed, we have all just wasted five weeks of our lives. An election that, in law, should never have been called, the reason for which has never been adequately explained, limped through a listless campaign on track to producing a Parliament remarkably like the one it was supposed to replace. The “most important election since 1945,” according to Justin Trudeau, might as well never have happened.
Joan Bryden: Another minority government looks likely, but it could be very different from the last one
Here are some things to keep in mind about how minority governments are formed
(CBC) Polls suggest the two parties are locked in a dead heat, neither within reach of winning a majority of seats in the House of Commons — much as they were in 2019, when Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won a relatively stable minority.
But that doesn’t mean this election will produce the same result.
Which of the two front-runners ultimately forms government doesn’t necessarily depend on who wins the greatest share of the popular vote or even who wins the most seats.
Rather, it depends on which party can command the confidence of the House, notes University of British Columbia political scientist Maxwell Cameron.
And that means: which party is able to muster enough support from one or more smaller parties to win crucial confidence votes?
If he were to see little prospect of mustering sufficient opposition support to continue governing, Trudeau would likely resign and allow the Conservatives to form government.
Regardless of the outcome, Trudeau has the right to carry on until he is defeated in a confidence vote in the Commons. Opposition parties would get their first opportunity to topple his government by voting against the throne speech, which opens each new session of Parliament.
If the throne speech was defeated, it would be the prerogative of the Governor General to invite Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole to form a new government. O’Toole would then have to gain support from one or more of the other opposition parties in order to command the confidence of the House. If he could not, another election would be triggered
Between violence and vandalism, the parties are experiencing a very ugly campaign
Canadian Anti-Hate Network says it’s the worst campaign in recent memory for far-right activity
Protests are a common sight during any election but many party workers say the ones they’re seeing during this campaign have been more alarming. The Liberal Party had to cancel a late August stop due to security concerns.

14 September
The 2021 Federal Election: O’Toole and Trudeau are Tied
Leger: North American Tracker, Surveys, Voting Intentions 14 September
“Our last two surveys over the past 10 days have shown the Liberals and Conservatives in a tie. However, there is more to the story. Today’s survey reveals that the PPC has gained 2 points and the Maverick Party is now at 5% in Alberta, eating at Conservative support. The Bloc is up 3 points in Quebec after the events of last Thursday’s debate, showing little hope for the Tories in Quebec and threatening the potential for Liberal seat gains. Finally, at 20%, the NDP is trending slightly downwards. This survey is further evidence that next Monday night will likely be a nail-biter regardless of stripe.” – Christian Bourque, Executive Vice-President

14-15 September
Canada inflation hits 18-year-high with election just days away
(Reuters) The rate rose to 4.1% in August, its fastest clip since March 2003, Statistics Canada said, beating analyst estimates and prompting Trudeau’s main rival to pounce over the rising cost of living.
…the hot inflation print was driven by high gasoline prices, rising housing costs and a surge in the prices of goods like furniture, appliances and vehicles, along with high travel-related costs as restrictions eased.
With far right groups on the rise, we should keep an eye on populism this federal election
Kayla Preston, PhD Student, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto
(The Conversation) …the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), headed by former Conservative MP Maxime Bernier, has taken up the populist torch. …  Making its debut in 2019 fall election, the PPC is rife with anti-immigration sentiments — their platform promises a decrease in immigration, a closed-border policy which vilifies refugees and adheres to unclear “Canadian values” and “Canadian identity.”
The leaders’ sycophantic acceptance of Quebec’s Bill 21 is dangerous for all of Canada – Erna Paris
(Globe & Mail) Although Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh have previously implied that as prime minister they might challenge Bill 21, they and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole have confirmed their support for a noxious law that discriminates against the rights of religious minorities. To back such legislation is not only hypocrisy on the part of Canadian leaders, but an affront to the fundamental commitments we espouse in this country. During the debate, it was striking to note that in the same breath as the main party leaders refused to challenge Quebec’s right to discriminate, they simultaneously mouthed their support for the Canadian shibboleths of human rights and equality.
Hanes: Memo to federal leaders — Cities need way more power
It’s time to recognize their economic, political, social and environmental clout — and give them a seat at the table.
Municipalities are creatures of the provinces. As a result, they too often lack decision-making authority commensurate with their economic, political, social and environmental clout.
One of the biggest ways the Canadian government could help would be to unshackle cities from the provinces and give them a status worthy of their importance.

13 September
Survivors of Dawson College shooting urge voters to shun Conservatives
The statement was issued as the federal Conservatives find themselves on the defensive over the issue of gun control.

10 September
The English-language debate: the debate was an “event organized by the federal debate commission and a consortium of broadcasters.” The result? The horse designed by committee = camel
The Globe & Mail John Doyle’s scathing review says it all
The farce of Canada’s televised federal leader’s debate is an insult to viewers and voters
What happened across multiple Canadian TV channels was the worst of the worst, an example of utter failure in Canadian television, and a disgraceful insult to the intelligence of viewers and voters.
That was not a debate, it was a farce. The fact that the political leaders even agreed to participate in the format is an indictment of their collective intelligence.
Maclean’s Five takeaways from the federal election debate, a disjointed but feisty showdown
The English-language debate featured moments of redemption for Annamie Paul and jabs at Yves-François Blanchet that could stir up the race in Quebec
– Justin Trudeau’s six-year record is easily made to look like a crushing burden
– There was a foreign affairs section after all, and isn’t O’Toole better off for it?
– The format—and the mod—really got under Blanchet’s hide
Much of the pre-debate chatter reasoned that a tightly structured format—a rotating cast of questioners, the switches between open debate and two- or three-person jousting sessions, and the citizen questions—would limit any particular leader’s ability to shine. In actuality, the moderators’ dogged fidelity to their structure and timeline squeezed most of the light out of this affair.
Lead moderator Shachi Kurl, a pollster and former journalist, rapidly cut off many attempts to pivot from one topic to the next, and hawkishly watched the clock to ensure all of the myriad elements of the program had their slotted times.
– This was supposed to be O’Toole’s introduction to Canadians, but Annamie Paul seized the spotlight
– Jody Wilson-Raybould is back—in talking point form
BBC World: Key takeaways from the debate
Canadian federal party leaders traded barbs over leadership, climate change and indigenous reconciliation in their final debate pitch to voters
Trudeau’s record in the spotlight
O’Toole makes a big tent pitch
Under the radar issues get some airtime (Indigenous reconciliation)
Green party makes its pitch
Politico’s four takeaways from Thursday night’s event
– (Just about) everyone wants to scrap the format: The segment that kicked off the debate set the tone for the next two hours: noisy and disjointed. Trudeau, asked again to justify his election call, used his time to sell his party to Canadians as one with a plan to “build back better.”
The Leaders’ Debates Commission organized the set of French and English debates in 2019. A new motley crew of speakers shared the stage this year, making it hard to focus on leaders with additional personalities competing for attention. It’s a stark contrast to the debate format used by French-language broadcaster TVA, a single moderator style set-up praised by many political watchers.

If you want your vote to help the climate, here are the questions you need to ask
By Seth Klein
(National Observer) The main problem with Jaccard’s ratings is he’s measuring the wrong thing. His ratings are primarily derived by determining whether the policies proposed by each party would credibly meet that party’s own stated GHG reduction target. The more likely a party’s policies are to meet its own target, the more “climate sincere” Jaccard finds the plan to be. But by this measure, the more ambitious the target, the less likely Jaccard is to find your plan credible. …
When one assesses climate platforms through the lens of the climate emergency, the questions one should pose are different: Does this proposed plan look, sound, and feel like an emergency undertaking? Does it invite Canadians to join in a grand society-wide undertaking to transform our economy and society? Is the party proposing to spend what it takes to win (as we did in the face of the Second World War and the pandemic)? Is the party proposing new economic institutions that will drive change and mass produce the equipment needed to decarbonize virtually everything, and if the market fails to act at the speed and scale required, allow us ­— the Canadian public — to undertake the task ourselves? Is the party trying to merely incentivize our way to victory — through price signals, rebates, credits, and tax cuts — or is it willing to bring in mandatory measures in the near term to get this job done? And is this party telling the truth about the severity of the crisis, and what is required to meet this generational challenge?
A Conservative minority government would be preferable, Legault says
Quebecers “who believe the Quebec nation should have more power, should beware of three parties, the Liberal Party, the NDP and Green Party.
L. Ian MacDonald: Legault spoils Trudeau’s morning, and perhaps more
Highly popular premier’s tacit endorsement of Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is a setback to the Liberal leader.

8 September
Leaders’ debates usually don’t move the needle much — but this election could buck that trend
Main party leaders will meet for first and only English debate Thursday at 9 p.m. ET
Nick Boisvert
(CBC News) “I think this is probably one election where the debate really does matter,” said Jaskaran Sandhu, a political strategist with the public affairs firm State.
“We’re in a unique circumstance, where it’s a tie game by all measures and accounts, and a debate may be the deciding factor.”
“When the leaders know how close it is, and they know that voters are still making up their minds, I think each debate is a live wire,” said Lori Turnbull, director of School of Public Administration at Dalhousie University
Turnbull said she will be most closely watching the interactions between Trudeau and O’Toole, who at the moment appear to be the only two leaders with a viable shot at becoming prime minister.
The Conservatives have opened up a narrow but consistent lead over the Liberals, according to recent polls, but the margin appears to be shrinking.
“I think there have been a lot of attempts to create awareness, create fear even, around what Erin O’Toole might do with private health care, what Erin O’Toole might do with vaccines, where he is on gun control,” (O’Toole reverses course on guns, will maintain Liberal ban during review of classifications) Turnbull told CBC News.
Andrew Coyne: Why Maxime Bernier and his noxious views should be at the leaders’ debates
Mr. Bernier has run a toxic campaign, full of fear-mongering, inflammatory rhetoric (“when tyranny becomes law, revolution becomes our duty”) and name-calling – he has called the Liberal Leader, in particular, a “fascist psychopath” – aimed mostly at the small minority of Canadians who are “anti-vaxxers.”
… His departure for loonier pastures, coupled with Erin O’Toole’s puréeing of Conservative Party policy into a platform any Liberal could love, leaves limited-government conservatives without a home. Worse, he has provided a voice and a vehicle for a movement that is defined mostly by its willingness to believe almost literally anything. As we have discovered of late, that describes a disturbingly large part of the population.
How should the wider community react to this phenomenon? As a first step, when dealing with people who believe powerful people are meeting in secret to conspire against them, it is generally best if powerful people do not meet in secret to conspire against them. Which brings us to the federal Leaders’ Debates Commission.

7 September
Rhetoric Check: Parliament wasn’t toxic — Justin Trudeau just wants a majority
Eugene Lang, Lecturer/Adjunct Professor, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University
The truth about why the election was called is far less grandiose than Trudeau would have us believe. It’s happening now for one simple reason — to secure a majority government for the Liberals, thereby doing away with the accountability, stresses and inconveniences inherent in minority Parliaments.
(The Conversation) When Parliament recessed for the summer, the prime minister bemoaned the “toxic” and “obstructionist” conduct of the opposition, as if toxicity and obstructionism were somehow new to Parliament Hill. The minority Parliamentary environment, he intoned, was dysfunctional and the opposition was at best slowing down or at worst blocking his agenda outright.
But now that he’s on the campaign trail, Trudeau wants Canadians to believe that over the past two years his minority government has had major if not historic achievements, notably in the areas of climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and improving conditions for the middle class.
… In minority Parliaments, the government must be on the lookout constantly for common ground — usually with an opposition party that it can typically barely tolerate — and practise the art of compromise, including accepting amendments to its legislation. This is hard work, time-consuming and sometimes demoralizing.
John Ibbitson: Trudeau risks losing this election both to O’Toole and to Singh
Throughout this election campaign, voters have not switched from the Liberals to the Conservatives. Voters have switched from the Liberals to the NDP.
The great Liberal strength has become the great Liberal weakness. As a centrist party, it is able to woo voters from both the left and the right. But when it gets into trouble, it risks bleeding votes in either direction. In this election, Liberal votes have mostly been bleeding to the left.

3 September
Canada’s Trudeau on defensive over election call, few big blows landed at first debate
(Reuters) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, struggling ahead of a September 20 election, came under concerted fire at a debate from opponents who said he had no business calling an election during the pandemic.
Susan Delacourt: Prime Minister Erin O’Toole: try that name on for size. As the federal election passes an important milepost over this Labour Day weekend, the prospect of a Conservative government has gone from a remote chance to a real possibility. Successive polls are showing that O’Toole is having a good election campaign; Justin Trudeau, not so much. The Star’s own poll analysis showed for the first time this week that Conservatives may take more seats than the Liberals.
… repeated elections have shown that voters only really get engaged in the final couple of weeks.
This isn’t just a campaign phenomenon, either. Alex Boutilier revealed in an exclusive piece this week that threats against Trudeau and his cabinet are up in 2021 as well. As he reported: “Data obtained by the Star shows that the RCMP have logged 215 threats made against the Liberal cabinet over the first six months of 2021 — almost as many as the number of threats registered by the national police force in 2020.”
“Unsettled” is a good way to describe the mood of this election campaign, then, as it heads into its final couple of weeks after Labour Day — in every sense of the word. Nothing truly is settled yet, and polls, consistent as they are in the upward Conservative trend, are not always accurate forecasts.
20,000 students sign petition asking Elections Canada to bring back on-campus voting booths
Elections Canada has suspended its successful Vote on Campus program at post-secondary institutions for the federal election because of the pandemic, leaving many young voters unsure of where and how to cast their vote when away from home

2 September
Where the parties stand on gun control in the 2021 federal election
Gun control has been a heated political issue in Canada since the late 1970s, and the major federal parties all mention firearm policy in their 2021 election platforms.

1 September
Liberal Party releases multi-billion dollar election platform for post-pandemic recovery
The Liberal Party released its election platform today — an ambitious document that offers billions in new spending to address both long-standing policy problems and new ones that have emerged during the past 19 months of the pandemic crisis.
The sprawling, 53-page platform proposes $78 billion in new spending. It differs substantially from the Conservative plan released earlier in this campaign in that it proposes to invest more in Liberal priorities — such as efforts to fight climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and the arts and cultural sector — while promising tighter restrictions on firearms and new money for provinces that ban handguns.
Shrinking economy bad news for both Liberals and Conservatives: Nanos
(CTV) As affordability becomes a key topic during the federal election campaign for all major parties, the news that the Canadian economy contracted in the second quarter is bad for both the Liberals and the Conservatives, according to pollster Nik Nanos.
On Tuesday, Statistics Canada reported that the economy contracted at an annualized rate of 1.1 per cent between April and June – the first quarterly contraction since the first COVID-19 wave lockdowns in 2020. To make matters worse, the agency also estimated another drop in real gross domestic product in July.

31 August
It’s all about him — and that’s why Trudeau is in trouble
Forgotten is 2015’s Trudeaumania, when it was all about him as the anti-Harper.
Six years later, it’s still all about him as the Liberal leader launched the campaign as a Trudeauerendum on his pandemic performance.
But three weeks after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau started the victory lap for his vaccination procurement success, the Liberal party is flirting with a future in the Official Opposition – and it’s very much all because of him.
Vote 2021 is a most unnecessary election at a most inconvenient time and this prevailing view did not die quickly, as expected.
The pointlessness of it all is sticking to Trudeau as a defining negative in a campaign now almost halfway over.
The polls are dead-heating between Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and the momentum is painted in a surging shade of blue.

30 August
‘They have become more nasty’: Laurier poli-sci expert ‘disturbed’ by election protests
(CTV news) A swarm of more than 150 protestors showed up at a campaign stop for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in Cambridge on the weekend.
The event was delayed for more than an hour as people shouted obscenities and blocked the entrance to the business where Trudeau was set to make an announcement about climate change. Some reported racial slurs being yelled and vulgar signs. One sign showed an image of Trudeau next to a noose.
This wasn’t the first heated protest along Trudeau’s campaign route.
Last week one of Trudeau’s campaign stops in Bolton was cancelled because of a similar protest.
“They have become more nasty, a little less welcoming. So I’m a little bit disturbed,” Andrea Perrella, a political science associate professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said about campaign protests in recent years.
“It is a little bit more aggressive than what we’ve seen in the past, absolutely. I used to look forward to campaigns. It was a fun time. It was like the Super Bowl for me. But now it’s a little bit less like a sporting event and a little bit more like a street fight,” Perrella said.

29 August
Trudeau says he won’t back down after protesters hurl death threats, racist and sexist slurs
For the second time in a week, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has had a campaign event disrupted by protesters shouting obscenities, uttering death threats against the prime minister and hurling racist and misogynist insults at people of colour and women in his protective detail.
While making a stump speech to promote his party’s climate change policies in Cambridge, Ont., Sunday morning, the Liberals were forced to delay Trudeau’s appearance for an hour because of the disruptions.

28 August
Canada’s Conservatives make gains weeks ahead of vote, polls show
Surveys show Conservatives with a slim lead over Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party as Canada readies for September 20 vote.
(Al Jazeera) The Conservatives, led by Erin O’Toole, were favoured by 33.3 percent of eligible voters, according to a tracking survey released on Saturday by Nanos Research that was conducted for CTV News and The Globe and Mail.
O’Toole says Conservatives who took part in anti-Trudeau protests aren’t welcome in his campaign

26 August
Afghanistan, pandemic cast a shadow over Liberal campaign efforts
Trudeau has faced questions daily about the situation in Afghanistan, where Canada boarded some 3,700 Canadian nationals and Afghan refugees onto evacuation flights in recent weeks.
Federal COVID-19 briefings stopped during election, sources say. Experts concerned
(Global) The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) hasn’t held a single COVID-19 briefing since the announcement of the federal election on Aug. 15 and doesn’t plan to provide any more in-person health updates until it’s over, Global News has learned.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, PHAC had been providing at least weekly updates in person on the progress of the coronavirus and the country’s response in dealing with it.
The approach has left several experts deeply concerned, disappointed and has led them to question the political nature of the decision.

25 – 26 August
The cancellation of the Vote on Campus program is an extraordinary mistake
‘Politicians seeking victory must remember that when Canadians can’t vote, everyone loses’
Ethan Gilhula, an economics student at Western University.
(CBC Opinion) Canadians aged 18-24 are one of the few demographics whose primary occupation — their education — often requires residing outside of the jurisdiction in which they would normally cast their ballots. The science is clear: the further you live from the polls, the less likely you are to vote
Students tell Elections Canada to do more after it cancels Vote on Campus program
Program suspended due to pandemic, snap election, says Office of the Chief Electoral Officer

A pox on all their houses: the major parties pander shamelessly on language
By Andrew Caddell
The only party refusing to pander to Quebec is the Green Party, whose leader, Annamie Paul, has a clear-eyed understanding of the threat Bill 96 poses.
Fast forward to this election and you would doubt Justin Trudeau, Erin O’Toole, and Jagmeet Singh had ever heard of the Constitution, Blaikie, or McGee. In their turn, each has endorsed Bill 96, which is an assault on human rights and linguistic rights of Quebecers. It intends to change Quebec’s “Constitution” to declare French the only language of the courts and the National Assembly.
O’Toole, astonishingly enough, called the English version of his Quebec platform the “Contrat avec les Québécois et les Québécoises,” not “The Contract with Quebecers.” O’Toole likes to point out, in a heavily accented French, that he was born in Quebec, although his family scurried to Ontario soon after the Parti Québécois victory in November of 1976.

24 August
Vast majority of Canadians believe Trudeau could have waited a year until calling election seen as a ‘power grab’
(Montreal Gazette) Throughout the first week of the campaign, Trudeau has faced repeated questions from both media and opposition parties about why he decided to dissolve the minority parliament earlier this month and plunge the country into a federal election, particularly in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
It turns out that many Canadians may be wondering the same, considering that a whopping 69 per cent of respondents said they believed that the election could have waited until next year or even later before becoming necessary.

Conservatives gain as O’Toole’s momentum grows, Nanos survey suggests
(CTV) The Liberals and Conservatives are now running in a statistical dead heat. … According to the latest nightly tracking ending Sunday, ballot support for the Liberals sits at 32.5 per cent, while the Conservatives are at 31.4 per cent support.

Trudeau outlines billions to hire family doctors, bring down health-care wait times

How do Canada’s political parties plan to prepare the country for future pandemics?
(CBC) The political parties are in agreement that Canada needs to be able to source domestically produced vaccines, rather than rely on external providers, as it did with COVID-19.
To address that, the Liberals said their government made “significant investments” relating to the research and production of vaccines and therapeutics. This includes plans to build an mRNA vaccine production plant in Canada.
The Liberals haven’t released their campaign platform yet but say “pandemic preparedness featured prominently” in the last federal budget. The Conservatives and the New Democrats, meanwhile, have laid out their views on the issue in their own platforms.
The Tories say they’d “ramp up” capacity to research and produce needed vaccines and medicines in Canada, “putting in place a sector strategy to grow the sector in a well-thought-out way rather than just handing out money.”
Additionally, the Conservatives want to “use procurements by government and those receiving government funding” to boost domestic production of personal protective equipment (PPE). They would also reinstate a tariff on imported PPE products.
The New Democrats agree Canada must produce vaccines, but they would “establish a Crown corporation charged with domestic vaccine production” to do so. The NDP also pledges to ensure “Canada maintains an adequate and responsibly managed” PPE stockpile “with an emphasis on supporting domestic production.”

Progress stops when we create and dismantle infrastructure programs every federal election
Kerry Black, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair, Integrated Knowledge, Engineering and Sustainable Communities, University of Calgary
(The Conversation) According to the most recent Canadian Infrastructure Report Card, the state of our infrastructure is at riskin fact, it’s failing. And our approach to tackling infrastructure has remained stagnant for decades.
Mired in political promises and lack of citizen engagement, Canada’s approach has focused largely on fast cash infusions to stimulate an underproductive economy. Stimulus infusions focus on spending money quickly on projects that have little value long-term.
Election platform promises about infrastructure typically focus on what hasn’t been done and how money was mismanaged. Party platforms are filled with promises to do more, but infrastructure is the Achilles heel of any government.
Party leaders have to talk about investing in infrastructure during the election, but if elected they have little funding to work with, combined with a largely hypercritical audience that doesn’t want to spend money.

Jagmeet Singh says election timing may have impeded Canada’s Afghanistan response
When pressed on the issue, Singh said Canada has been slow to evacuate its allies from Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of Kabul last week, forcing President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country.
He said he wonders if Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was more focused on campaigning and the election call than on a burgeoning humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

19 August
O’Toole takes a position on mandatory vaccines — and clarifies the debate
O’Toole says that vaccines are a critical tool to get us out of the pandemic but there should be options for those who do not wish to be inoculated
Both O’Toole’s initial hesitancy and his ultimate position on this issue almost certainly can be traced back to politics. While a majority of Canadians might support putting restrictions on what unvaccinated people can do, those who vote Conservative are less enthusiastic about the idea.

18 August
Rex Murphy: Trudeau’s vanity election would be silly, if it weren’t so shameful
So early on, and yet already silliness is doing an arm wrestle with shamefulness as the proper characterization of the election call
We are only at the very beginning of this silly, cooked-up election. As I wrote previously, it was shameful to call it at all. Justin Trudeau led a minority Parliament that gave him more latitude, more freedom to act and spend, than any prime minister in modern history.
You don’t get to dish out nearly half a trillion dollars over a mere two-year term and then get to claim you have to call an election because the opposition is “obstructionist.” More risible still was Trudeau’s claim that an early election was necessary because Parliament has become a “place of toxicity.”

17 August

One of the best summaries as the campaign begins is this posted on Facebook by Steve Pinkus, former Vice President of the Liberal Party of Canada (Quebec):
So it’s election time again in Canada. As we head into the 2021 Federal election, let’s take a look at some of the interesting context, explore why we find ourselves getting ready to vote and how do Canadians feel about it.
First let’s look at the timing. While our Mainstreet polling shows that two thirds of Canadians don’t want this election, and many may perceive it as purely an attempt by Justin Trudeau to get a majority government, there are several other factors at play that many are not considering. Any later in the fall would have interfered with the municipal election cycle in Quebec where every municipality votes on November 7th. Then we’re into winter and so there would be no opportunity until the spring, when Ontario has a provincial election in early June, followed by their municipal election cycle in October which coincides with Quebec’s election also in October 2022. So while there may be some smaller windows of opportunity for alternative dates for a federal election, they are certainly limited.
Now none of that eliminates the obvious reasons why we’re going now. While many think that this will be a snap election, the fact is that all of the parties have been preparing since the spring. Candidates have been selected, campaign headquarters have been rented, all the apparatus for all of the parties are in place. At some point you just can’t unring the bell. Add to that the consistent showings of the federal Liberals with comfortable to substantial leads and the temptation is hard to resist. Back in the spring when serious consideration of this election began, the calculation was made that by now a substantial portion of Canadians would be vaccinated and that things would be opening up. A month ago that still seemed obvious. But who could have predicted the Delta variant. We still don’t know what its full impact will be.
What we do know is that Canadians are tired from 18 months of this pandemic, and frustrated by the fact that just when we thought we might be seeing the end, it’s fighting back yet again. None of that is the government’s fault of course, but it will have an important impact on the election, simply because of its presence at the same time. It will not be something that can be ignored. But no amount of political smarts or polling, or clairvoyance can predict how that may affect the election at this time, because like the election itself, it has not yet played out.

Which leads us to what is rapidly shaping up to be the first major defining issue of this election. A lot of Canadians, especially supporters of the Conservative party and even more so of the PPC and Max Bernier, are refusing, so far at least to get vaccinated. On the other side of this very divisive, some would say life and death issue, are the nearly 80% of Canadians who have had at least one dose. That issue alone is a lot more personal than anything Canadians have had to contemplate in an election, probably since the second World War. 

To bring that into sharper focus, today the Trudeau government made two major announcements; first that all public servants, even those working for crown corporations, will have to be vaccinated. Secondly anyone taking major public transportation such as trains, airplanes or cruise ships will have to be vaccinated. There is serious consideration about a national vaccine passport, and other stringent measures, such as those adopted in France, to not so subtly encourage every eligible citizen to get vaccinated.
On the other side of that argument, what can Erin O’Toole do or say. While he may agree on some level with these measures, he cannot afford to alienate those anti-vaccers who while they may be a small minority of the overall population, still form a significant portion of his base. He is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Does he do what most Canadians support, and risk driving those people to the PPC, which would cost him any hope of victory, or does he just say nothing.
And what of the NDP, another wildcard in this election. While their national numbers remain around 18% according to our latest Mainstreet poll released yesterday, there is a glimmer of hope for them. That’s because they are starting to show surprising strength among voters between 18 and 34, where they are tied with the Conservatives. Two questions arise out of this information. First, can they translate those gains into seats, even in certain pockets and regions of the country? Second, will the timing of the election coming so soon after students return to colleges and universities, give them time to register them as voters and concentrate those votes in specific ridings in sufficient numbers to actually translate into seats?

Finally what is going on in Quebec? Our latest Mainstreet poll still has the Liberals with a 7.5% lead over the Bloc Quebecois, but with the Conservatives close behind them. That would seem to indicate that the Liberals could make modest gains or even better, but we cannot ignore the proven talent of Yves Francois Blanchet as a campaigner.
The same can be said of Justin Trudeau, not only in Quebec but across the country. The Liberals are staking a lot on his campaigning skills.

As for Erin O’Toole, he remains largely unknown to the vast majority of Canadians. This will be his first real exposure to most of us. On the other hand most reviews of him so far have not been positive, so the bar has been set pretty low for him. If any of the other potential negatives manifest themselves for Trudeau, and if the people start looking for an alternative, he might not have to do much to exceed those expectations. However as of today, those are very big ifs.

Liberals maintain lead as election begins, but face tough road to majority: poll
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found that the Liberals would receive 36 per cent of the vote if the election were held tomorrow, while Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives would earn 31 per cent. Jagmeet Singh’s NDP would get 20 per cent.
Those numbers are virtually the same as the results of Ipsos’ polling from last month, despite 56 per cent of Canadians now saying the election should not have been called during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As millennials fall out of love with Trudeau, Liberals need to stop bleed towards the NDP
Christopher Nardi
‘With millennials, it’s not just who they’re supporting, but are they motivated?’
(National Post) In 2015, millennials mobilized in droves to support the Justin Trudeau Liberals, but, six years and two elections later, experts say millennials have fallen out of love with the prime minister and his party will have to work hard to stop them from bleeding over to the emerging NDP.
…polling numbers illustrate that fall eloquently. According to Leger polling, nearly half (46 per cent) of Canadians aged 18 to 34 supported the Liberal Party of Canada by the end of the 2015 campaign. Fast forward to the end of his mandate in 2019, and that number had already fallen to around 30 per cent. … two years after 2019, and as a new federal election begins, millennials’ support has barely risen for the Liberals, and is currently a far-cry from the record support they had back in 2015.

15 August
This morning at Rideau Hall and in Kabul
Scott Gilmore: Trudeau went to Rideau Hall because he wants to be Prime Minister a little longer. If he wanted to really do something, he would have been in a crisis ops room.
(Maclean’s) This morning, as the Prime Minister made his way in his official car to Rideau Hall, to announce his decision to call a late-summer election, hoping to win a majority, Canadian diplomats, embassy employees and their families, and Canadian Forces soldiers made their way in armoured vehicles through the chaos of a collapsing regime to the Kabul airport, hoping to escape with their lives.
Those Canadian diplomats were in Kabul because the Prime Minister had chosen to keep them there. Those soldiers were there because the Prime Minister had sent them. And the 100 Gurkhas hired to protect the Embassy were reportedly left behind in the compound because the Prime Minister decided they were not worth evacuating, too.

12-14 August
‘Recoil effect’: New Nanos polling shows Liberals may be out of majority territory
(CTV) “The latest Nanos tracking that was just completed on Thursday night, suggests that there has been a significant recoil effect against the Liberals. This hot speculation about an election has shifted voters from the Liberal column to the Conservative column, probably because they are upset about the fact that there is an election,” said Nanos Research’s Nik Nanos in an interview with CTV News on Friday. …while the Liberals are still leading in the polls, with 33.4 per cent ballot support, should the election call come this weekend, Nanos said that Trudeau will need a strong answer on day one of the campaign as to why an election is needed now.
“Was there something that you were not able to do?… There’s no crisis to merit the triggering of an election, except for the fact that the Liberals want an election. And I think Canadians will probably see through that,” Nanos said.
Andrew Coyne: Here are the issues that should be debated this federal election, but probably won’t
…the Prime Minister will pitch the country into another election, less than two years after the last – in the teeth of a worsening pandemic, in the absence of any plausible justification and in defiance of the fixed-date election law. He will do so for one reason: because he thinks he can win.
Jobs and health care may be old standbys, but there are plenty of other issues that are current, vital, contentious and sometimes even solvable. It would be good to hear the parties debate them in a serious way, even if they almost certainly won’t. I mentioned one of these in a recent column: the pending renewal of the Bank of Canada’s five-year mandate.
Deficits, debt and economic growth
Oh, they’ll all mention the deficit. But none of them will offer to do much about it. The most that any of the major parties will promise will be a (gently) declining debt-to-GDP ratio years from now, which itself would require corrective measures none of them will propose.
National unity
The federation, and the constitutional order that underpins it, is under strain, on two fronts. On the one hand, Quebec’s Bill 21, effectively banning the hiring of observant religious minorities across much of the public sector, and Bill 96, which purports to unilaterally entrench Quebec’s status as a unilingual nation in the Constitution, are plain violations of the Charter of Rights and, arguably, the division of powers.
On the other hand, Alberta is to hold a referendum shortly after the election on whether to remove equalization from the Constitution – which it has no power to decide, but which holds all sorts of trouble-making potential. The move is in part a protest at Alberta’s oil being blocked from export markets by, among others, Quebec, equalization’s largest recipient, which, again, it has no legitimate power to do.
New election poll shows Liberal support declines, suggesting party may not win a majority
The Liberals intend to argue in the election campaign that they need a new mandate to guide the economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19
The poll by Nanos Research, completed Friday, shows the Liberals with only 33.4-per-cent voter support, a drop of 5.9 percentage points from four weeks ago when the party appeared headed for a majority government.
Campbell Clark: Times have changed. That’s the idea Justin Trudeau will put to the test as he is set to launch an election campaign Sunday.
For starters, it will serve as the basic pretext for calling an election two years before his official term ends. You can expect he will argue that the pandemic has changed the country so much it is time to seek a new mandate.
Beyond that, the entire Liberal campaign will be a political gamble that times have changed.

11 August
It would be weird not to have an election
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey
(Politico Canada) This week, a spate of federal appointments is the latest sign of — well, you know what’s coming. … Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also shook up the senior ranks of the public service. He named a new “federal lead” for “proof of vaccine credentials” and promoted key pandemic performers. The federal order-in-council database lists 35 other appointments to various tribunals, advisory boards and crown corps — all dated Aug. 4.
Justin Trudeau gets loads of press for his cross-country pre-election jaunts. The power of the purse is always newsworthy. A prime minister who carries the federal checkbook makes headlines. But Erin O’Toole and Jagmeet Singh are hitting the road from coast to coast all the same. And they’re taking photographers.
A quick nod to David Herle’s brand-new podcast, Curse of Politics
“We’ve got an election speculation show on tap for you today. Chock full of all the rumours we’ve heard from all our friends in the highest, and lowest, places. Let’s see, I’m not in the prediction business, but the writ is gonna drop sometime in the next 48-144 hours.”

Trudeau calls federal election, voters to go to the polls Sept. 20

Platforms
Our Plans | Liberal Party of Canada
Canadians deserve a government that will always have your back. Read more about how we plan to keep moving Canada forward — for everyone.
Conservative Party of Canada: Secure the future
To mark day two of the federal election campaign, the party released “Canada’s Recovery Plan,” a 162-page document that expands on the pre-election promises they unveiled in the spring.
NDP: Ready for Better:
New Democrats’ Commitment to You
The Bloc Québécois unveils its electoral platform, stressing Quebec identity, environment
The platform is based on 30 measures, including plans to increase health funding, replace the Indian Act and create a “green equalization” program to reward the provinces that fight effectively against climate change.
Meet Annamie Paul
Annamie was an intern in the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme, and went on to pursue a Masters of Public Affairs at Princeton University. She returned to Canada to found the Canadian Centre for Political Leadership, an organisation focused on increasing the representation of equity-seeking groups in politics and public policy. Annamie has worked in political affairs in Canada’s Mission to the European Union, as an International Advisor at the International Criminal Court, and as EU Director for Crisis Action, a global conflict prevention NGO. She is also the co-founder of the BIPP HUB, an innovation hub for international NGOs working on global challenges based in Barcelona, Spain.
Ville-Marie–le Sud-Ouest–Île-Des-Sœurs: The candidates

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