Here we are almost at the midpoint of the longest election campaign in Canada for more than fifty years. While Americans are quite used to the permanent election campaigns that mark both the Congressional and Presidential cycle, Canadians are already a little weary after five weeks with six more to go. In England and Europe, where campaigns seldom run more than a month or so, most people would be shaking their heads at the stamina of North American politicians.
Of course, they really don’t have that much stamina. Plenty of people announce they will run for the Presidential nomination – there are currently 16 or 19 (who can keep track?) looking to be the Republican nominee. Most of them will have fallen by the wayside in six months’ time – when their money runs out or when it becomes clear that they cannot win. A few predestined losers will hang in – either to prove an ideological point or in hopes of being strong enough to get the VP appointment. That’s politics in the long run.
In Canada, no-one knows yet how it will all turn out. Certainly no-one is willing to count the current Prime Minister out even though he has been second (and occasionally third) in most of the polls taken over the last two weeks. Perhaps the Canadian public hasn’t been paying a lot of attention though there are some indications that recent news – the Duffy trial, the revelation that Canada was in recession the first six months of the year, the fumbling of the refugee crisis – has woken a lot of people up.
Given that those who are paying attention don’t like what they see, this can hardly be seen as good news for the government. Priding themselves as economic managers they are desperately spinning the recession (the only one in the G7) as not serious while fending off attacks that show their performance on the economy has not been stellar for years. The Duffy trial – trivial in some ways – points to a style of management that seems both sneaky and arrogant.
Meanwhile, the performance of the Immigration Minister – who has worked hard to redeem himself in the last few days – has not helped convince Canadians that this government, and, in particular, the Prime Minister, is capable of responding to the crisis in a human, let alone humane, way.
But what do the numbers show? The NDP are still in the lead when you aggregate the polls but trends seem to show they are falling across the country while the Liberals – who have run a low-key but steady campaign – are slowly gaining. The Conservatives are stagnating and may even be falling into third place. The most recent poll from Leger, suggest the NDP remain in first only because of Quebec, while the Liberals have a significant lead over both parties in the key province of Ontario – where one third of MPs come from.
And they’re doing it without – so far – resorting primarily to negative ads. But with six weeks to go, anything can happen.
And that’s ten minutes.