What might the result of a federal election in November deliver?
That’s a delicious question inviting voter projections based on likely provincial, regional, demographic and gender voting expectations. In other words, the usual methodology.
It’s a methodology that completely misfired and discounted the election of a majority Conservative Party government in the U.K. in 2015.
Experts scoffed at the notion David Cameron would emerge from leading an unsatisfying coalition of parties to form a majority Conservative Party government. Yet, on May 7, 2015, that is exactly what took place.
Eighteen months later, on the eve of the United States election, polling predicted a Hillary Clinton election victory over Donald Trump in the race for the White House. On Nov. 7, the NBC/SurveyMonkey national election tracking poll showed Clinton with a six-point lead.
On Nov. 8, Trump was handed the keys to Air Force One.
Attempts continue to be made to push the narrative Clinton won the popular vote while Trump scored only because of Electoral College states representation.
That fails to take into consideration that while Clinton did indeed score more votes than Trump, much of that voter support was concentrated in one state, California and one rationale for the Electoral College is to avoid discounting the significance of less densely populated states compared to those with massive numbers of urban voters.
In any case, the case for a Clinton moral popular vote victory rings hollow, just as it did for the Conservative Party of Canada last Oct. 21, when the Andrew Scheer-led CPC outdistanced Justin Trudeau’s LPC in the popular vote, with Trudeau and the Liberals scoring the lowest popular vote percentage (33.1 per cent) for any party winning a federal election in the history of Canada. The losing Conservatives received the support of 34.4 per cent of voters nationally.
But back to the possibilities for a major upheaval in Canada’s Parliament, were a November vote to occur.
Justin Trudeau’s personal and negative baggage would have increased over what he towed into last year’s vote, which saw the Liberals under his leadership reduced from majority to minority government after just one term.
The various Trudeau/WE Charity challenges would dog the PM, including the proroguing of Parliament, which shut down ethics and finance committee investigations of Trudeau and his erstwhile minister of finance Bill Morneau.
Now imagine the potential impact if parliamentary Conflict of Interest Act watchdog Mario Dion were to return a decision that Trudeau, for a third time, was found to be in violation of ethical behaviour.
Former B.C. premier and federal Liberal minister of health Ujjal Dosanjh suggested in an interview that a declaration by the commissioner that a member of Parliament had violated the Conflict of Interest Act should perhaps result in suspension or expulsion from parliament.
The Conservatives are now led by Erin O’Toole, a military veteran who was later veterans affairs minister in Stephen Harper’s cabinet.
I spoke with Michel Drapeau, a retired CAF officer who is now a lawyer in private practice who handles military cases on behalf of service members, active and retired. Drapeau says that as minister, O’Toole brought civility to discussions with veterans.
I also spoke with Don Sorochan, who represented veterans in a lawsuit they filed against the federal government. That case was brought up in a Justin Trudeau town hall in February 2018, and that resulted in the prime minister muttering his now-infamous response, “Why are we still fighting against certain veterans’ groups in court? Because they are asking for more than we are able to give right now.”
Sorochan and Drapeau, in off-air conversations, shared their respect for the performance of O’Toole as veterans affairs minister and the attitude he brought to discussions with veterans.
The fly-in-the-ointment may be that O’Toole seems not terribly keen to force an election at the moment. A Trudeau win might reduce the current CPC leader to footnote-in-history status. O’Toole needs an electorate that is again ready to slash Liberal numbers in Parliament.
A weakened Justin Trudeau would be welcomed by Yves-François Blanchet and his Bloc Quebecois. In October 2019, the party tripled its seat count to its current caucus of 32, up from the 10 seats it won in 2015,
Blanchet has already positioned himself as being ready to push for non-confidence in Trudeau’s Liberals and create the dynamics for a fall election. How committed Blanchet might be to following through with that would depend on how much newly fertile voter soil might present itself to the BQ, seeded by the amount of self-inflicted damage Trudeau would bear entering the ring in Quebec.
It is Jagmeet Singh who would need the most convincing. Singh’s NDP occupies third-place party status in Parliament with a caucus again reduced last October.
The 44 seats it won in 2015 already represented carnage to the party, which had scored 103 seats under Jack Layton in 2011 to become — for the first time — the official opposition in Canada’s Parliament. The New Democrats’ 2019 seat count of 24 represents a slump to fourth place. Singh, though, has to be prepared for the eventualities that Trudeau may present in his speech from the throne on Sept. 23.
Were Trudeau to tack hard to the left, thereby pushing the New Democrats further to the margins of relevance, the result of another election setback would most likely see the party sending Singh packing, as it did Thomas Mulcair following the 2015 election.
Singh could position support for an election as standing for integrity in government and the removal of a prime minister twice (and perhaps thrice) cited for ethical shortcomings.
Back to the Conservative Party of Canada.
O’Toole has a decision make: to be bold, or not. That’s it.
Voters’ cynicism toward politics, political parties and political opportunists, real or perceived, can be established within minutes of any conversation on the subject from coast to coast.
This is a time of opportunity for the CPC and its new leader.
Hockey play-by-play parlance may be appropriate: take the shot.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.
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