By LH EDITORIAL BOARD on July 24, 2021.
Choosing the right moment to force a federal election is the ultimate in speculative political maneuvering, and Canadian politicians have been desperate to properly interpret these tea leaves since the days of Confederation.
More often than not, the political prognosticators fail to locate the pulse of the Canadian electorate, and more than a few campaigns have gone down in flames based on winsome predictions which fell well short of the mark.
These can be treacherous waters to traverse, but the good ship Liberal appears to be stoking up the boiler and heaping on the coal in anticipation of a possible federal election campaign in late summer or early fall.
Federal party leaders have been fanning out across the nation on various tours, a sure sign that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election denials are not to be believed by more than just the great unwashed.
And it might just be prime time for the prime minister to roll the proverbial election dice. Angus Reid poll numbers from earlier this week showed the Liberals at 33 per cent, followed closely by the CPC at 31 per cent, with the NDP a distant 20, and the Bloc and Greens taking up the rear at seven and three per cent, respectively.
Not a gargantuan margin for the Liberals, to be sure, but with the CPC’s Erin O’Toole plummeting in personal popularity – according to the same poll, three in five Canadians say they have an unfavourable view of the party leader – those odds might be improving for the Liberals.
Removing the millstone of Andrew Scheer’s lacklustre leadership was held up as the panacea the CPC needed to challenge Trudeau’s polished image, but many observers are already saying O’Toole might not be up to the task.
Say what you will about Trudeau, he often seems to be at his best during election campaigns, and a little charisma can go a long way on the hustings when sizing yourself up against a stolid opposition leader like O’Toole. And a few months – or weeks – seems all too short a time to develop the trust and wherewithal needed to give Trudeau a true run for his money at the ballot box.
Minority Parliaments don’t usually last more than 24 months in Canada, and with roughly 21 under their current belt, the Liberals are running down the clock on the average duration.
Down to brass tacks, any upcoming election – should the pundits be accurate in their predictions – won’t be predicated on the Liberals riding marginally higher in the polls.
Ultimately, this potential contest will be throwing down the gauntlet based on the perceived weakness of Trudeau’s opponents and O’Toole’s failure to make significant inroads with the wider electorate.
Only time will tell if that speculative roll of the dice pays off if the Liberals force an election in 2021.