The 2021 Federal Election: The Race Tightens by Andrew Enns

August 24, 2021

The first week of the 44th Canadian federal general election campaign is behind us. What do we know so far?  As the week drew to a close, it appeared the race between the Liberals and Conservatives is tightening slightly from a ballot perspective. The Liberals still have the clearest path to government compared to the other parties, but Trudeau’s desired majority hasn’t become more attainable.  

The past week provided a glimpse of some of the issues that may come to dominate the campaign. 

As expected (and predicted by Leger polling), plans for Canada’s economic recovery figured prominently in all the parties’ early announcements. Both the Tories and NDP released their campaign platforms, with the Conservatives garnering considerable attention for their document entitled Canada’s Recovery Plan and the attention-getting portrayal of Erin O’Toole on the cover.   

Cost of living or “pocketbook issues” are making an impact on the campaign trail. As expected, housing prices are figuring prominently, particularly in the seat-rich areas of the GTA (Ontario) and Lower Mainland (BC), but perhaps unexpectedly, rising inflation has become a topic of conversation. Canada has enjoyed very low inflation for a good part of a decade, and its reawakening now may inject some unpredictability as voters determine which party is best suited to manage its impact on day-to-day living getting more expensive in Canada.  

Finally, and perhaps least welcomed by the governing Liberals, was the unfolding human tragedy in Afghanistan. Western governments, including Canada, were caught off guard at the pace of the Taliban takeover and are now scrambling to extradite Afghanis whose lives are likely in danger due to the regime change. This issue injected itself almost daily throughout the last week, making it challenging for the Liberals to stick to their desired campaign themes of the day.  

And let’s not forget the biggest issue-related elephant in the room—the COVID-19 virus. A Leger poll released last week showed Canadians becoming less confident that the worst days of the pandemic are behind us.  How this will affect voting decisions is, at this point, anyone’s guess.  

In the lead up to this election, many predicted a fairly low-key, predictable campaign, but if this week is a portent of things to come, the 44th general election may be anything but. 

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