The winning conditions are in place for a Justin Trudeau victory in the 2021 Canadian election. He has a 5% lead over the Conservatives, whereas he was tied with Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives when the election was called in 2019. He has more support today (35%) than he did in the 2019 election (33%) and an even higher satisfaction rate at 42%. Canadians also feel he is the best prime minister (27%) and the one who will win the election (47%). In addition, all governments in Canada, whether in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, British Columbia or even the Yukon, have been re-elected during this pandemic. All the boxes for victory are checked.
Yet victory is far from assured.
- The first hurdle is the pandemic. Voters will criticize him for calling an election in these difficult times, for not doing enough prevention, or for dividing people over the vaccine passport or mandatory vaccination.
- The second hurdle is the economy. Voters will criticize him for spending like no government before him and creating a historic deficit of over $350 billion.
- The third hurdle is the environment. Voters will criticize him for the gap between his intentions and his actions, particularly with the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion.
But the biggest uncertainty remains Conservative leader Erin O’Toole’s performance. Unknown to the general public and rather discreet during the pandemic, he is the only new leader of a major party in this election campaign. He will be in the spotlight for 36 days and will have to convince Canadians that he is ready to govern and especially that he is not Andrew Scheer. There will be a magic moment for the Conservative leader during the debate when people will ask, “Why not? Can I trust him? Is he ready to govern? Will he use this moment to finally connect with voters?”
Because when people go to the polling booth to vote, they don’t remember what the politician said or promised, but they always remember the emotions they felt.
Although an election always starts with numbers, it often ends with emotion.