Canada: campaign intensifies as federal elections are approaching
Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Liberal PM Trudeau was even hit by gravel during a campaign stop
by: Isti Miskolczy
With less than two weeks left until the federal elections in Canada, all parties are in a final push to convince as much voters as possible. This comes as the Liberals (led by current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) and the Conservatives (headed by Erin O'Toole) are head to head in the latest polls with both parties swinging between 30% and 35%. Overall the Conservatives are said to be having the highest support, however, the Liberals are favoured in more constituencies, and eventually that is what matters.
Photo courtesy of Jason Hafso via Unsplash.
Canada's electoral system is very similar to that of the UK. The first past the post system allows the candidate with the most votes in each constituency to be a member of the House of Commons. Whichever party holds the biggest share of seats after the elections will be mandated to form a government - regardless of achieving a majority or not.
In fact, majority governments are considered to be relatively rare in Canada.
In the last 20 years there were only two occasions when a majority government was formed - in 2000 by Jean Chrétien and in 2015 by Justin Trudeau (both Liberals).
Trudeau then lost his majority in parliament in 2019, which is considered to be the foremost reason why he called a snap election two years earlier, to be taking place on the 20th of September 2021. Mr Trudeau was criticized by his opponents for doing so in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, inasmuch as opposition leader Mr O'Toole asked Prime Minister Trudeau
“Why did you trigger an election in the middle of a fourth wave?”
However, Canada's Liberal government's response to the pandemic - with which citizens are said to be mostly satisfied - including their high vaccination rates and the easing of lockdown restrictions over the summer might endorse Trudeau's popularity during the final stage of the campaigning. On the other hand, he did not seem to provide a universally acceptable reason for the snap elections other than his party's lack of a majority which might aid the campaign of O'Toole (Conservatives) and even Jagmeet Singh (New Democrat).
Mr Trudeau needs a majority government for several reasons, which include not just a stable and steady recovery from the pandemic when crucial political-economic decisions will have to be made but also the passing of important bills such as the bill on banning conversion-therapy.
The Prime Minister and his party also plans to extend the Canada Recovery Hiring Program and to support workers and businesses among others with the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
However, currently the Liberals hold only 155 seats with the Conservatives having 119.
The remaining amount of seats is divided between smaller parties. Mr Trudeau will need to win 15 more seats than he won in 2019 in order to reach the required amount of 170 seats for a majority in a race which - according to the polls - seems to be very much head to head.
Amidst these circumstances was Mr Trudeau hit by gravel rocks at a campaign event.
Two other members of his campaign crew were also targeted with the rocks, however neither them nor the Prime Minister got injured. The incident happened just a bit more than a week after the Liberals had to cancel another campaign event due to angry protesters. Conservative leader O'Toole called it "disgusting" in a tweet, adding that he condemns these actions "in the strongest terms possible".
This incident is a clear indicator of the Canadian campaigning arriving in its final stage with only 13 days left until the elections when voters will decide whether they want to see Mr Trudeau repeating his father's success of winning back the majority or not.
Portrait of Prime Minister Trudeau: "File:Prime Minister Trudeau - 2020 (cropped).jpg" by Justin Trudeau – Prime Minister of Canada is licensed under CC BY 3.0