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Election 43 – Game On

Three hundred and thirty-eight ridings, six political parties, three viable independent candidates and 40 days to capture the attention of over 35 million Canadians. The political engines have been revving all summer, but Canada’s #elxn43  race has just begun!

This morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the Governor General to officially dissolve Parliament. Each party has around $28 million to spend over the official writ period. Today, candidates, campaign strategists and volunteers mark the start of a long and exhausting five weeks. From the air war to the ground war, things are about to get . . . intense.

Polls predict a national horserace between Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party of Canada and Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Party of Canada. While it is inevitable that these two will crisscross the country, there will be a particular focus on British Columbia, Ontario and Québec where some pitched battles are expected. This is where party leaders are expected to spend a significant part of the election’s first 10 days.

Prime Minister Trudeau is doubling down on his record, asking Canadians to “choose forward.” His message will build on the Liberal resume of the past four years — the enhanced Child Care Benefit, middle-class tax cuts and climate plan. While climate change is an important ballot box question for many Canadians, it presents risk to the Prime Minister.

When was the last time a government got elected promising a new tax? Canadians realize something must be done, but will they agree to do their part? Elections in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Ontario have all been fought and won in opposition to carbon pricing. But this group of Liberals is unafraid and unwilling to back down. 

Mr. Scheer presents a focused message — one promising Canadians that “it’s time for you to get ahead.” He is pitching a Conservative government focused on making life more affordable for Canadians. In addition to strong support in western Canada, a Conservative path to victory aspires to take seats from the Bloc Québécois, while also hoping for strong voter turnout to set off Liberal gains there. 

Mr. Scheer hopes to persuade Canadians that Justin Trudeau is not as advertised — that he and his team do not understand the economic anxiety of everyday Canadians. But Liberals feel the Canadian employment numbers released less than a week ago compete with this story. With 81,000 new positions in August, Liberals think they have a strong economic backdrop to run for re-election. 

The New Democratic Party under Jagmeet Singh appears somewhat ill-prepared to fight against stalwart and well-funded political machines. This is no fault of Mr. Singh who inherited a party with a massive 2015 debt and limited party infrastructure. Now fighting as a mainstream federal party, the New Democrats are weaving together their coalition of everyday Canadians under the slogan “in it for you.” In his first federal election and first election as NDP leader, Mr. Singh will look to the all candidate debates on October 2, 7 and 10 to gather momentum.  

Elizabeth May’s Green Party of Canada is poised to have a record election. After 13 years as party leader, Ms.  May has finally hit the double-digit support threshold. She asks Canadians to vote, “not left. Not right. Forward together.” But what does a strong Green turnout mean for voter breakdown across ridings? Time will tell.

While the Canadian political class battles it out for electoral glory, business needs to keep a keen eye on the prize. Adapting to policy and electoral realities is integral to coming out on top. As the narrative unfolds, industry needs to focus on preparing and pivoting for October 21 and beyond. McMillan Vantage will be there to help.

mcmillan vantage policy group
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