By Max Singh
The 2019 Canadian federal election is scheduled to take place on October 21, 2019. It may be earlier. The fixed-date procedures determine the October 21 date of the vote in the Canada Elections Act. But the Governor-General, on the advice of the Prime Minister, can call an election at any time. The Liberal Party of Canada led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attempt to retain its majority government that it won in the 2015 federal election.
The current governing Liberals will pit against the official opposition—Conservative Party of Canada, led by Andrew Scheer, aiming to unseat the Liberals to form a new government. The New Democratic Party, helmed by Jagmeet Singh whose party lost official Opposition status in the 2015 election, is also looking for a win. The Green party, led by Elizabeth May, is also putting up a challenge along with the Bloc Quebecois. Former Conservative MP Maxine Bernier’s new upstart People’s Party of Canada also intends to run candidates in the 2019 election. It’s Trudeau’s second time on the hustings as a leader, and both Scheer and Singh’s first. May is the most seasoned leader, having led her party through three election campaigns.
The Party Leaders
In terms of leaders, only the Liberals led by Trudeau have retained the same leader from the 2015 election. Veteran Parliamentarian Andrew Scheer now leads the Conservatives and replaced former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh served previously in the Ontario legislature, and only won his Parliament seat in 2019. This campaign will be his first as leader of the national party. Singh also made history as the first South Asian appointed as a National party leader.
The Liberals – Leader Justin Trudeau
Under Justin Trudeau, the Liberals are running f the middle-class, championing the environment and defending progressive values. These issues they hijacked from the left-wing NDP in the 2015 election; with such mandates as bringing in more refugees, legalizing marijuana, and reversing former unpopular Conservative policies.
The Conservatives – Leader Andrew Scheer
Andrew Scheer, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, made gains in provincial elections and supports the core of Conservative principles—free market, free enterprise, and individual liberties. What Scheer lacks in charisma and popular appeal is made up for in drive, focus, and zeal. The Conservatives are aiming to drill the Liberals on high spending, accountability, and transparency.
The NDP – Leader Jagmeet Singh
The young, bright NDP Leader, Jagmeet Singh needs to wrestle back the left-wing ideologies challenges and progressive initiatives that Trudeau snatched in 2015. Although Singh’s sensibilities of being charismatic and engaging are likely to attract diverse votes, he faces tough challenges in Quebec with its anti-religious stance. Singh aims to use fairness as a way to bring people together and bring in a more socialized form of government.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
Early polls show that the Greens have record-level support among Canadians. The party’s environmentalist aims are popular with millennials, who comprise the largest voting bloc in the country. Provincially, the Greens have made significant advances, holding the balance of power in BC with three Victoria Island MLAs and so propping up the John Horgan NDP government,
The People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier
Brash, witty, outspoken and not afraid to speak his mind, Maxime Bernier’s more right-wing, less electable party will have a tough time competing. Its view on immigration is seen as overtly racist, out of touch, and leaves the party in isolation. Bernier has made no secret he is attempting to woo the base as the Conservative vote, the right-wing anti-immigrant, anti-refugee supporters.
A robust Liberal polling advantage has been gradually eroding over time, setting up a competitive 2019 race, where the Liberals would still hold a real but not massive position. But the SNC-Lavalin affair and the various associated mini-crises under Trudeau’s watch have had an impact on Liberal polling numbers. The Conservatives look promising, but there are doubts whether they could persuade voters outside of the midwest and from the right-wing to form a majority. The NDP are struggling with fundraising their election war chest, and are particularly weak in Quebec. They look to come in a close second or third place according to the most recent polls. Possibly, the Green Party might pick up a few more seats after a strong showing in BC’s provincial election in 2017, where they now hold the balance of power in the province. The People’s Party is not expected to pick up any seat. The party’s anti-immigration billboard adverts with Bernier’s photo were pulled from across the country in August following a widespread outcry, with Bernier himself remaining unapologetic. During the campaign, most parties will release their full election platforms.
A clear cut winner may not even emerge, and there could be minority government propped up by other parties. There can be significant overlap between NDP and Liberal support. Now, with the Greens in the equation and Conservatives voting support in Canada, there can be fluidity in how voters cast, with swings voting between the Right and Left. Whatever happens, Canadians can expect one of the most heated elections in years.
What do I need to vote?
Elections Canada says the most significant change for this election is the use of the Voter Information Card. Voters will receive it as their proof of residence when they show up at the polling station. But you will still need another piece of ID to prove your identity. Long-term ex-pat Canadians living abroad will be entitled to vote in the riding they lived in last.