Federal party leaders and associated candidates are in full campaign mode as Canada heads into its 44th federal election.
While there are a lot of semantics that can be argued over the next few weeks — especially in post-election analysis — one hard truth is relatively apparent.
No one is winning this election.
Sure, one party may gain seats at the expense of another, but this isn’t an election where it feels like there are clearly defined winners and losers.
Not yet, at least.
Maybe the feeling is different in other parts of the country, but here in B.C., where there are rising COVID-19 cases in the Interior (well, everywhere, really) and the province is literally on fire, a federal election just seems inappropriate.
Depending on how cynical one wants to be in their analysis, the quest for a majority parliament is why we are heading to the polls.
Out of 338 ridings, that means one party must capture 170 seats —and that is just not going to happen.
Before Aug. 15, the Liberals had 158 seats, the Conservatives had 121 seats, the Bloc Quebecois had 32, the New Democratic Party had 24, and the Green Party had two (three were elected, but one MP crossed the floor to the Liberals a few months ago). Jody Wilson-Raybold, a former Liberal cabinet minster, also sat as an independent MP in a Vancouver-area riding.
However, now the electoral map is set to change.
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau is likely banking on his party’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which will either shore up votes or drive them away, depending on one’s perspective. It’s a federal adoption of the John Horgan strategy — B.C.’s premier who won a provincial majority last fall campaigning largely on the province’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Conservatives have had a decent run as the Official Opposition, but as has been the party’s problem for the last five years — it has to offer Canadians something more than just being anti-Trdueau. Outside of the party’s typical western stronghold, there may be opportunity in Atlantic Canada — Nova Scotia just returned a Progressive Conservative majority in a provincial election. Will that support be reflected in the federal ballots?
From a federal perspective, the NDP are in an interesting position.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh will point to legislative deals the Liberals were forced to make that included party priorities, such as sick benefits, during the worst of the pandemic. However, the Liberals are likely hoping to take credit for everything the NDP negotiated into pandemic supports.
The Bloc Quebecois only captured seats in Quebec (quelle surprise), but La Belle province also saw 35 ridings that went to the Liberals in 2019. If the Bloc flips more seats, it could further erode a traditional Liberal bastion, but the opposite is also true — the Liberals’ road to a majority runs right through that province.
While the Greens elected three MPs last cycle, most races in individual ridings weren’t close outside of British Columbia and Atlantic Canada. That being said, the Greens — receiving just over one million votes in total — only garnered three seats.
For all the ink spilled over the People’s Party of Canada, the right-wing upstarts received just under 300,000 votes nationally, but didn’t win any seats.
However, campaigns have a way of taking a life of their own, depending on how issues of the day are handled by touring leaders or party candidates.