by Marshall Auerback
Tuesday, 7
September 2021
Explainer
17:05

Is Justin Trudeau going the way of Theresa May?

The Canadian PM's cynical election call looks like it is backfiring
by Marshall Auerback
Credit: Getty

In general, voters don’t like politicians. That is especially true when their summer holidays are interrupted by an opportunistic election call. Add in a pandemic that’s far from over, and it’s easy to see why the prospects for Justin Trudeau’s governing Liberal Party are looking increasingly grim. 

Recent polls have shown his Liberal Party now trailing the Official Opposition Conservative Party, and momentum in the crucial province of Ontario is continuing to shift toward the Tories. If sustained, it would almost certainly mean a change of government in a few weeks’ time.

Comparisons have been made to Britain’s Theresa May, whose early election call in 2017 resulted in an even smaller majority for the Conservatives. But while May had a clear rationale for calling a snap election (namely, to secure a larger mandate for Brexit), it is not clear why Justin Trudeau did the same. 

Though he sits atop a minority government that is largely buttressed by the support of the Left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP), there was little the Trudeau administration was unable to achieve with NDP support. Instead, his decision to call an early election has been viewed by voters as a cynical political gesture, with the Prime Minister looking to capitalise on his country’s (albeit belated) vaccine success. 

While the polls this past summer had shown the government doing reasonably well, Covid caseloads were already starting to rise when Trudeau called for an election. Fortunately for the PM, cases seem to be tapering off, but he has made himself a hostage to fortune as various regions struggle to contain the Delta spread.

Even though his government has been credited for a good rollout (Canada now has a higher proportion of its population fully vaccinated than either the U.S. or U.K.), Trudeau has chosen not to focus on this during his campaign. Rather, the PM been trying to revive the old Liberal fears about the Tories: namely, that they are climate change-denying austerians determined to cut funding for public services. 

The problem here is that Trudeau’s own government took over the TransCanada oil pipeline, so his claims about decarbonising the economy ring hollow. What’s more, many workers fear that they shall bear the brunt of the adjustment of the new “green agenda”; fossil fuels are still a substantial industry with lots of high paying skilled jobs, especially in western Canada.

But on a broader level, it would seem that Trudeau has misjudged his political opposition. Like Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, the Canadian Tories have tacked Left on pro-worker policies, thereby neutralising a lot of the traditional concerns about voting for them. Under their highly capable new Leader, Erin O’Toole, the party’s brand of pro-worker conservatism, which includes benefits for gig workers, worker representation on corporate boards, and protecting pensions from corporate bankruptcy has given voters a positive reason to vote Conservative — a stark contrast to the Liberals, who are offering very little new.

For his ill-judged act of political opportunism, Trudeau may now find himself making a return to the back benches.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
14 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Barry Stokes
Barry Stokes
1 year ago

We can but hope that the 20th of September will see the end of his ‘woke’ liberal brand.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Did anyone else burst out laughing when they saw this photo? Doesn’t Trudeau know – like Ardern should know with their bowing to the ‘progressive’ values, that cultural appropriation is just a no-no. The man was caught in blackface for goodness sake. Are there no depths that he will not plumb?

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

What progressive values is Ardern bowing to?

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago

Have you not seen Trudeau? I can’t believe Canadiens have been able to put up with this clown for so long. I used to believe they were sensible people. After watching this man’s ridiculous antics for so long I don’t believe it anymore.  

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

Governer Newsome is awaiting the voters – he is sort of a Cynical, more politically corrupt, Trudeau. Let us hope this is the canary in the coal mine laying on its back with feet in the air.

2022, then 2024… and maybe the West may recover from these destructive leaders.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

They both have similar presentation styles. Completely phony smiles and seem like they spend hours and hours and hours in front of a mirror practicing facial gestures. So contrived.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
1 year ago

He looks very punchable.

Alyona Song
Alyona Song
1 year ago

Wish the polls and the conclusion of the article were right. Prime Minister’s pandering to every woke fad (of which there’s a bottomless supply) is repulsive, not to mention the government’s irresponsible spending habits and utter disregard of the young during the pandemic… reckoning is badly needed.

Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago

Erin O’Toole is a big advocate of CANZUK – a political and economic union between Canada, Australia, NZ and the UK. Might be interesting.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

Could be a vote winner in all those countries I think, though I know less about Canadian politics than the others

Mark Falcoff
Mark Falcoff
1 year ago

Here in America we like to characterize the wimpy mayor of Minneapolis as a “cut-price Justin Trudeau”.

ml holton
ml holton
1 year ago

Regardless of Trudeau’s idiotic pandering to the ‘woke’ – (when commenting on the damaging impact of the pandemic on the female sector, he called it a “she-cession”) – he is still very popular. He may well squeeze by with another minority government on September 20th with NDP support.

If he can’t, most believe he’ll be gone from politics for good. Canadians have enjoyed, for a while, watching the son of one of Canada’s fiercest Liberals prance around the global stage. He projected a youthful and ‘progressive’ front. But, reality eventually caught up. Trudeau is not a gifted orator or politician like his father, Pierre Trudeau. He’s stumbled more often than he’s lead. Canadians have seen enough now, and ‘change’ IS very definitely in the air.

One to keep an eye on is the grassroots leader, Maxine Bernier. Often depicted as ‘Far Right’ in mainstream media, he’s tapping into the growing annoyance with too-much government interference as well as the plague of ‘identity politics’ that hard-working, law-abiding citizens are being constantly corralled to consider and implement.

That said, a vote for Max’s ’The People’s Party of Canada’ (PPC) could split the Conservative vote and bolster the wobbling Liberals.

In the end, the party most likely to win will be the one who can get out their vote in this uninspired election cycle.

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 year ago

I have a theory that in order to get elected you need to have hair. How many elected leaders can you think of who were bald? O’Toole looks a bit short in the barnet department, so Trudeaulocks will probably win.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Barnets good, beards bad