By Julie Gordon
OTTAWA (Reuters) – As Canada’s election race enters its final weekend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is redoubling efforts to motivate supporters, knowing his bid for re-election on Monday could be doomed by low turnout.
Recent opinion polls show Trudeau’s Liberals neck and neck https://graphics.reuters.com/CANADA-ELECTION/zjvqkjkomvx/index.html with the opposition Conservatives led by Erin O’Toole, suggesting that getting out the vote will be crucial.
The Conservatives are more likely to have low turnout, as they tend to be better at getting their voters out the ballots.
It’s time for us to take action. “Join our movement. Make some calls. Talk to your neighbours, your families, and go knocking on doors.” Trudeau stated this week during an Ontario rally. This is a message he repeated many times over the course of his campaign.
Trudeau (49), called for an early election to seek a majority in parliament after two years as a minority government. He had worked with other parties and was forced to call elections. However, he now has to fight for his job.
Two high-ranking Liberals involved in the campaign spoke out to Reuters, saying they were concerned that Canadians would be more interested in their normal lives and less on politics as more of them have had full vaccinations.
While Canadians voted in early polls https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canadians-rush-early-polls-election-mail-in-ballots-underwhelm-2021-09-15 in record numbers, demand for mail-in ballots has been far lower than expected.
Due to the lack of polling stations, distancing requirements and an intensifying pandemic in some parts of Canada, voters may face longer lines on Election Day.
O’Toole (48), a former cabinet minister, is competitive thanks to a well-organized campaign that appeals to the centrist vote with progressive promises, without alienating his base.
It’s not all about persuading people to vote for you. Darrell Bricker is chief executive officer of Ipsos Public Affairs. “It’s all about getting those people who have committed to voting for us out to vote,” he said.
“Turnout will determine everything.”
Ipsos’ latest poll shows that the Liberals have tied the Conservatives with 32%. The left-leaning New Democrats are third with 21%. Trudeau holds a slight advantage over O’Toole, 32% to 29%.
However, opinion polls don’t always accurately reflect the actual outcome of a vote. Turnout could greatly impact seat count. Bricker explained that the Liberals have favored New Democrats in past elections with a greater turnout.
In 2019, Trudeau’s majority lost to 67%. This is down from the 68.3% when Trudeau was elected in 2015.
Philippe Fournier from 338Canada.com, a polling analyst, said to the Reuters Global Marketplaces Forum that 67% of voters voted in the 2019 election. This was down from 68.3% when Trudeau won his majority.
CLOSER THAN EXPECTED
Trudeau held a comfortable lead in the polls going into the campaign, but that has vanished because of what many voters see as an unnecessary election.
He also faces a challenge from New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/new-democrats-singh-looks-dance-his-way-role-canadas-kingmaker-2021-09-15, 42, who outstrips Trudeau and O’Toole in personal popularity and appeals to the same voters the center-left Liberals need.
It could lead to O’Toole’s victory if enough people vote for Singh. Trudeau stated at Sunday’s rally that the Liberals are “the only progressive party capable of stopping the Conservatives from going backwards”.
Trudeau also accuses O’Toole, who he claims has been cozying up with the gun lobby in order to allow Conservative legislators to open the debate on abortion.
O’Toole peppers the campaign with remarks about Trudeau’s call for early elections during a pandemic. O’Toole portrays Trudeau as selfish and power hungry.
With polls showing an uptick in support for the small, far-right People’s Party of Canada https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canadas-mad-max-stokes-anti-vax-rage-could-help-trudeau-2021-09-14, whose supporters have dogged Trudeau’s campaign with protests over vaccine mandates, O’Toole has to convince its supporters he is their only hope of getting Trudeau out of office, while not alienating core Conservatives.
Make no mistake. O’Toole declared on Tuesday, “A vote for any other than Canada’s Conservatives means a vote to get more of the same from Trudeau.”
It’s closer than people thought… now the Conservatives have a chance to win. According to Daniel Beland (director of the Institute for the Study of Canada Montreal’s McGill University), this should provide a stimulus for the Conservatives and Liberals.
We might not have made it this far to achieve the same outcome as last year.