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Here’s what election strategists are saying in the week before Election Day

WATCH: Election debates and what party leaders need to do in the final week of this campaign

With advance polls open and just eight days left on the campaign trail, election strategists convened on the West Block to dish out some advice for federal party leaders.

The most recent Ipsos poll conducted for Global News showed the Liberals and Conservatives virtually tied, with support for the Liberals at 35 per cent and for the Tories at 34 per cent.

READ MORE: Here’s what you need to know to vote

The same poll showed the NDP in a remote third spot, at 15 per cent. The Liberals and Conservatives were also in a tight race in two battleground provinces: Ontario and B.C.

Last few days of campaign

The challenge for incumbent Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau is that he is not just defending his record as prime minister, but also defending against the progressive platforms touted by both the Green Party and the NDP, according to Liberal strategist Richard Mahoney.

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“But he’s going to have to try and convince Canadians over the course of this last week … that his program is the most realistic,” Mahoney said. “That’s the challenge for his last nine days.”

With a little more than a week left in the campaign, Trudeau will have to “contrast himself against Mr. Scheer.”

READ MORE: When political differences create family drama — and how to handle it at Thanksgiving

The last Ipsos poll saw 35 per cent of respondents cite Trudeau as the party leader who would make the best prime minister, with Scheer coming in second and polling at 30 per cent.

The Conservative Party released their fully costed platform on Friday, proposing various tax relief measures as well as tens of billions of dollars worth of federal budget cuts, with the goal of eliminating the deficit within five years.

Conservative election platform will mean longer waits for municipalities seeking federal funds
Conservative election platform will mean longer waits for municipalities seeking federal funds

This put the Liberal Party on the attack, with Trudeau criticizing the Tories for releasing their platform late in the campaign and saying the proposed cuts were “deeper” than those proposed by Ontario premier Doug Ford.

Conservative strategist Fred DeLorey called it a “prudent platform” that cuts out “wasteful spending.”

But NDP strategist Anne McGrath said the Tories’ fiscal plan — which includes cutting consulting costs and selling federal real estate while maintaining existing public servant levels — left them vulnerable to “parody.”

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READ MORE: 4 takeaways from the Conservative election platform

“It’s a little bit ridiculous to think that you can get that much money out of reducing the size of people’s desks and that sort of thing,” she said. “But the cuts themselves are very serious and quite severe.”

Scheer’s campaign appears to be “more about what’s wrong with Mr. Trudeau,” Mahoney said.

“The release of the platform this week on the eve of Thanksgiving weekend shows he’s really playing to the core of his support rather than reaching out to a broader coalition of people and say ‘Elect me prime minister and I’ll move the country forward,’” he said.

The lighter side of the campaign trail
The lighter side of the campaign trail

Debate analysis

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s debate performances garnered some praise from the strategists.

Mahoney noted that the English debate’s format — with multiple moderators and six party leaders — was a bit “convoluted.”

“There are just too many topics, too many leaders, maybe too many moderators, and not enough chance for people to get a sense of it,” he said.

READ MORE: Singh vows to help oilsands workers find new jobs with programs, funding

But while Trudeau was, as expected, attacked from all sides, Singh came out as a “kind of chill dude.”

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“He seemed kind of relaxed and there was a chance in this election that he faced a pretty daunting result, and I guess he may still because we don’t know,” Mahoney said. “But he did have a good night.”

McGrath chalked up Singh’s performance to “his sincerity, his authenticity, his preparation.”

Singh hit the campaign trail and entered the debates “with most Canadians not really having any impression of him” and with most people in media and political circles “basically writing him out of the picture,” she said.

READ MORE: Here are 5 heated moments from last night’s federal leaders’ debate

“I think people were more than just pleasantly surprised,” McGrath said.

Now the question is whether Singh’s likeable debate performances “will translate into actual vote intention.”

McGrath said that when votes begin to move late in an election campaign, that momentum “tends to continue.”

Below: Choose a timeframe in the dropdown menu to compare which leaders are mentioned most on Twitter