Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Tom Mulcair have been campaigning for over a month now. And there’s still over a month to go until election day.
Many pundits suggested people wouldn’t start paying attention and the campaigns wouldn’t start in earnest until after Labour Day. Well, that’s come and gone.
So if they were right and you’ve just realized there’s an election campaign going on, here’s what you need to know.
The NDP is the frontrunner
The NDP, Canada’s once stalwart third party, is now the party most favoured to win the next election, though with a small minority.
The latest seat projection from the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP) suggests the NDP lead with 132 seats. The Conservatives are second with 119 and the Liberals have 86. The Green Party is projected to win just one seat, and the Bloc Quebecois could be shut out completely, according to Lispop.
Most of the NDP’s power is based in Quebec, where the party is projected to pick up 63 of the province’s 78 seats. The Conservatives are strongest in Alberta, projected to pick up 28 of the 34 available seats. The Liberals are strongest in Atlantic Canada, projected to win 21 of the region’s 32 seats.
A desire for change
So what are people voting for? According to recent Ipsos polls, most people are looking for some kind of change in the House of Commons. Whether said change is brought about by a Liberal or NDP government however, voters don’t particularly care.
An Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News suggested recently that should the campaign end with a minority government, which, right now, is the most likely scenario, voters would prefer some form of a Liberal/NDP government. The most popular form was an NDP government bolstered by Liberal support – 55 per cent of all voters preferred that. Next up was a Liberal government bolstered by the NDP, with 53 per cent of voters preferring that makeup in the House of Commons.
The economy is a major issue in any campaign and this election is no exception. And with the release of Statistics Canada’s latest GDP numbers, its official, Canada’s economy is in recession.
But how did we get here and how do we get out? That’s where the candidates disagree. Harper tried to put a positive spin on the numbers and pointed out that Canada’s economy actually grew in June, despite shrinking overall in the quarter.
Mulcair and Trudeau, however, put the blame squarely on Harper. Trudeau said he would run “modest” deficits until 2019 in order to stimulate Canada’s economy, which led to both Mulcair and Harper attacking the Liberal leader as a spendthrift.
If you haven’t been paying attention, you missed some candidates behaving badly. Now all of them are former candidates.
First up was former candidate for Calgary Nose Hill Ala Buzreba. She was forced to apologize after some of her tweets – sent when she was 17 – resurfaced and were circulated online. One of the tweets told someone to “go blow your brains out” while another suggested someone’s mother “should have used that coat hanger.”
Next up are two Conservative candidates and what has become known, with one of them, as PeeGate. Jerry Bance, the former Conservative candidate for Scarborough-Rouge Park, was forced to drop out of the race over the weekend after video from CBC News showed him urinating into a coffee mug at a client’s home before pouring it down the sink.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair quipped “this was one mugshot that Canadians weren’t expecting.”
The second Conservative candidate to become a former Conservative candidate was Tim Dutaud who had been running in the Toronto-Danforth riding. He was forced to step down Monday after being identified as the person seen in prank call videos posted on YouTube.
“What this says is we keep the highest standard for candidates,” Harper said after the two incidents. “And these two individuals are no longer candidates.”
And an NDP candidate in Nova Scotia stepped down just a week into the election campaign. NDP candidate for Kings-Hants, Morgan Wheeldon, stepped down after a Facebook post in which he wrote that “one could argue that Israel’s intention was always to ethnically cleanse the region” was circulated online, according to a report in The Toronto Star.
The growing humanitarian crisis in Europe forced the federal leaders to confront foreign affairs last week after the photo of a dead boy on a beach sparked an international reaction. The boy, along with his family, had been fleeing to Europe, when he drowned.
The photo became a talking point for Canadian politicians after it was erroneously reported the government had rejected the family’s refugee claim.
In the wake of the report, all three leaders pledged to take in more refugees. Harper touted a promise made early in the campaign to take in 10,000 more refugees while continuing to fight ISIS and (falsely) suggested Canada took in the most refugees per capita.
Tom Mulcair, similarly, suggested Canada could take in 10,000 more refugees while Justin Trudeau suggested Canada accept 25,000 Syrian refugees.
The Mike Duffy trial was a pesky thorn in Harper’s side during the first two weeks of the campaign causing him to be peppered with questions regarding just how much he knew about the secret $90,000 repayment, rather than his announcements.
Evidence presented during the trial suggested Harper’s current chief of staff, Ray Novak, also knew about the repayment, despite Harper’s repeated claims that only Duffy and Nigel Wright are responsible for the scandal.
The trial has gone on break until November.
No platforms yet
Through all of this, the candidates have been making a lot of promises – most notably being the NDP’s childcare plan, the Liberals’ plan to boost public infrastructure funding, and Harper’s promise to make it a crime for Canadians to head overseas to fight with terrorist organizations.
And, for the most part, they’ve said how much it’s going to cost (hint: a lot). But they have yet to stake out exactly how they would pay for everything. None of the three parties have released their platforms.