With the election on, Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives appear to be in a dead heat with Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in terms of the popular vote.
The CBC’s Canada Poll Tracker, an aggregation of all publicly available polling data, has the Liberals and Conservatives tied at 33.8 per cent apiece.
According to the Poll Tracker, at the beginning of the summer the Liberals were trailing the Conservatives by five or six points nationwide. Only now, with the election finally being called, has the party erased that deficit — though it has yet to regain all of the support it has lost since the eruption of the SNC-Lavalin affair in February.
The Poll Tracker has the New Democrats trailing in the third place at only 12.9 per cent support. They are being chased by Elizabeth May and the Greens, who are running at 10.7 per cent.
The trend line for the Greens has been largely flat over the summer, however, while that of Jagmeet Singh’s NDP has ticked slightly downwards. This has increased the perception of a two-horse race between the Conservatives and Liberals.
According to the Poll Tracker, the dead heat between the Liberals and Conservatives masks some of the lopsided regional battlegrounds across the country.
Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, for example, hold a lead of 40 points in Alberta and nearly 24 points in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Altogether, the Poll Tracker estimates that would deliver around 55 seats to the Conservatives.
According to the Poll Tracker, the Liberals’ lead of six points in Ontario and 14 points in Quebec likely would deliver around 121 seats at this point — enough on its own to put the party most of the way toward a majority government.
Still, current polling suggests neither party is in line to win the 170 seats needed for that majority. The numbers as of today suggest roughly 164 seats going to the Liberals and 140 going to the Conservatives.
The Poll Tracker gives the Liberals only a 65 per cent chance of winning the most seats if the election were held today, and gives the Conservatives a 35 per cent chance.
The implications of a Conservative victory
While the Liberals seem to be on a slight upswing over the past few months, most pollsters see the two parties falling short of a majority government.
And certainly a Conservative plurality is a reasonable possibility even if a Conservative majority government is somewhat less likely.
In light of what we are seeing south of the border with Donald Trump, with Boris Johnson in the U.K., and with Doug Ford in Ontario, what would a federal Conservative government mean for Canada?
“An essential test for democracies is not whether such (authoritarian) figures emerge but whether political leaders, and especially political parties, work to prevent them from gaining power in the first place – by keeping them off mainstream party tickets, refusing to endorse or align with them and, when necessary, making common cause with rivals in support of democratic candidates.
Isolating popular extremists requires political courage. But when fear, opportunism or miscalculation leads established parties to bring extremists into the mainstream, democracy is imperiled.
Once a would-be authoritarian makes it to power, democracies face a second critical test: will the autocratic leader subvert democratic institutions or be constrained by them?
Institutions alone are not enough to rein in elected autocrats. Constitutions must be defended – by political parties and organized citizens but also by democratic norms. Without robust norms, constitutional checks and balances do not serve as the bulwarks of democracy we imagine them to be. Institutions become political weapons, wielded forcefully by those who control them against those who do not.
This is how elected autocrats subvert democracy – packing and “weaponizing” the courts and other neutral agencies, buying off the media and the private sector (or bullying them into silence) and rewriting the rules of politics to tilt the playing field against opponents. The tragic paradox of the electoral route to authoritarianism is that democracy’s assassins use the very institutions of democracy – gradually, subtly, and even legally – to kill it.”
This post is being written on September 17. The federal election is October 21.
Donald Trump is President of the United States, Doug Ford is Premier of Ontario and Boris Johnson became Prime Minister of Britain on July 24 and there has been chaos in the U.K. ever since.
Current polling suggests that this election is not heading towards a majority government,
The Liberals, NDP, and the Greens really need to talk about what the next government of Canada will look like if no party wins the 170 seats needed for a majority.
And they need to start talking now.
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