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It’s been a while since I’ve commented on the state of Canadian politics. To be fair, it hasn’t exactly been all that interesting. But since it’s the end of the school year and with the major potential for a federal snap election this summer, now’s as good a time as any to give my two cents on the last few months and make some broad predictions on what the future holds.
The governing Liberals have been holding firm in the polls. Like most governments around the world, the pandemic has been kind to them (in a purely political sense of course). It’s not surprising, given that there have been no major blunders in their pandemic response.
They are currently embroiled in a very serious sexual assault scandal involving a high ranking military appointee, not to mention that the WE Charity scandal continues to rear its head from time to time. However, given the history of scandal with this government and the apparent lack of effect it’s had on poll numbers, the Liberals should coast to a third term (likely another major one too) so long as the vaccination process is nearly done by election time.
The other reason the Liberals have been so strong is because their main opposition, the Conservatives, have been so embarrassingly weak throughout the pandemic. As I wrote back in September, O’Toole has been Andrew Scheer 2.0, which certainly is not a compliment to Mr. O’Toole.
While it looked initially like he was going to make a concerted effort to woo over the populist right crowd, O’Toole has been unwilling to associate with anything in terms of policy, leaving him basically stranded with no political base to speak of. When he inevitably ends up not delivering this summer, I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets booted like Scheer did after only one election. Nobody should be surprised to find out that O’Toole was not going to be the Conservative’s saviour who could seriously take on the charismatic, branding powerhouse that is the Liberal’s under Justin Trudeau.
The NDP, the Bloc and the Greens have been largely irrelevant this year. It’s hard necessarily to blame them, given that the government’s response to the pandemic has taken up all the political oxygen in the room.
The few times I have heard anything about the NDP in the news it’s been them putting their foot in their mouth or because of infighting between the party leadership and its MPs. Not exactly helpful, but it’s gotten such little attention that it should have no bearing on their election result.
The Bloc I’ve seen and heard even less about, though that’s obviously a function of not living in Quebec (or speaking French). However, it’s still fair to say that they haven’t been able to make the splash that they hoped. Again, this is almost certainly because of the pandemic, which has generally shifted the conversation away from issues where they are most comfortable.
The only noteworthy news about the Greens has to do with their leader, Annamie Paul. Elected in October 2020, she is the first leader of a national political party with sitting MP’s to be a Woman of Colour. She ran in a byelection in Toronto Centre that same month, losing by less than double digits, which was certainly better than I had expected.
She has promised to run in Toronto Centre in the next election as well, but that seems like a huge mistake. The riding is a major Liberal stronghold. In the 2019 election, they won it by nearly 35 per cent. The Greens have yet to win a seat in Ontario on the federal level and I don’t think a high profile, uncompetitive riding like Toronto Centre is where they are going to break through.
An election this year seems like all but a guarantee. With the government tabling their first budget in nearly two years in a couple weeks, on top of a pandemic election preparedness bill making its way through the House of Commons, it’s clear that the Liberals are setting the stage to take Canadians back to the polls sometime in 2021, much to the chagrin of the opposition.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the Liberals will win a 2021 election. Short of a massive recession or a complete stall in vaccine rollout, there’s nothing that could both take down the Liberals and bring the Conservatives back from the brink. The pandemic has put all eyes on the Trudeau government and largely they have been able to deliver, which they will be rewarded for at the polls.