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Posted by on Oct 18, 2019 in Canada, Politics | 0 comments

Is Canada’s Romance With Justin Trudeau Over?

Is Canada getting ready to dump Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who sparked Trudeaumania in Canada after his 2005 election and could be on the road to defeat in coming elections? The answer is: Perhaps. The Christian Science Monitor has an analysis on what has changed.

2005, CSM notes, was the rise of “Cool Canada”:

Mr. Trudeau became an international role model for progressives, especially as the path of liberalism seemed increasingly obstructed everywhere else, with the election of President Donald Trump, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, the rise of the far-right across Europe, and the increasingly authoritarian grip of Chinese leadership.

And today? Definitely there have been changes:

Today Canada is still lauded on the international stage, despite growing disillusionment with the state of politics here and embarrassing scandals that have grabbed global headlines. Yet as the troubles of the world seem to deepen, or at least the perception of them, Mr. Trudeau still offers a counternarrative. And perhaps more important at home, the economy is strong: Macroeconomics would suggest any incumbent should handily take the Oct. 21 race.

But his re-election is not a “given.” And here’s why:

Mr. Trudeau’s 2015 upset followed nine years of Conservative leadership under Stephen Harper, and the 2015 race was cast as a choice for two very different Canadas. Mr. Trudeau went further left than the leftist New Democrats (NDP) on spending promises, at the same time offering an overhaul of the electoral system. He promised a feminist, climate-friendly government that would create a haven for refugees in need – not to mention he said he’d legalize marijuana.

…Now the election has been recast for many Canadians, essentially a choice for the least bad option. “Are voters sufficiently dissatisfied … to vote out the Liberals? I think that’s the question,” says Livianna Tossutti, a political science professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, a bellwether federal district, or “riding,” in the Niagara region that flipped to Mr. Trudeau from the Conservatives in the last election. Now, mirroring the federal race overall, the two major parties are neck and neck.

Any incumbent will have disappointed a swath of voters. But two scandals this year have been particularly damaging. The one that grabbed global headlines came this fall, after Time magazine ran a photo of Mr. Trudeau in brownface as a 29-year-old teacher. But for Canadians the SNC-Lavalin affair, in which Mr. Trudeau sought to shield a Quebec engineering firm from prosecution, was more damning. It pitted him against Jody Wilson-Raybould, his justice minister and the first indigenous person to hold the post. She was then ousted from the Liberal caucus, angering voters who suddenly questioned whether his feminist credentials, support for indigenous issues, and pledge to do politics differently were anything more than campaign buzzwords.

Like former President Barack Obama’s message of hope that captivated young Americans, in Canada Mr. Trudeau’s 2015 campaign had galvanized progressive young voters: 57% of those between ages 18 and 34 cast ballots in 2015, compared with 39% in the 2011 race, and the highest percentage of that went to the Liberals.

..Their vote is key this year. Millennials comprise the largest voting block in Canada, or 37% of eligible voters. And the percentage of those saying they will vote Liberal has slipped to 27%, compared with 39% for the NDP, according to a recent DART & Maru/Blue poll, reflecting a federal uptick for the NDP. As the center-left vote fractures, political analysts are increasingly talking about the prospects of a coalition government.

Read the analysis in its entirety.

Probably these are the two key factors that are making this race a lot harder for Trudeau: (1) Like Obama, when he ran for re-election the first time he was not just a younger, fresh face, but he was a kind of empty slate. Many voters could project their hopes on him of how he would be in office. Politicians who are elected and who raise great hopes can find popularity greatly erode if they don’t live up to the hopes in voters’ heads. (2)His image was significantly changed by the two scandals.

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photo credit: michael_swan Trudeau-15 via photopin (license)