Week one of the Federal Election Campaign has not defined a new path to anywhere politically in my view. First let me be clear. I have worked on election campaigns, and in nineteen ninety-seven I was a candidate. The other side of the equation is the fact I spent years in radio and with that in mind I work to be as objective as possible when assessing where we are on this path.
First let me say in a squeaker Elizabeth May clearly won the first debate. She was on top of her game, and set the pace. Other problems are plaguing her progress I will address those in a moment.
Second place went to Jagmeet Singh, but I feel he gained the most from the exercise. He was much better than many gave him credit for and like May, he had some ideas and spoke to the issues people are concerned about.
The performance Scheer gave was less than stellar, it was and appeared to be scripted to talking points and going after the Liberals, rather than telling me and everyone else watching, what he would do to improve the lives of the average Canadian.
The Liberals didn’t bother to show because they made it clear they were taking part in specific debates and this was not one of them. Perhaps it was a blessing for Scheer. From what I saw Elizabeth May made up for Justin not being there. I don’t know how well Trudeau would have done against May or Singh, but in a one on one with the first performance Scheer is no match for Trudeau.
So problems, starting with the Greens. They didn’t do a good job vetting candidates and some voices of confusion about their own policies on things like abortion caused some chaos. I do not believe their self inflicted wounds are fatal however.
The NDP has a problem vetting but not serious or fatal action. Their problem is they are being encroached on by both the Greens and the Liberals at the moment. The saving grace is Singh is holding his own and sticking to issues of concern to many specific interest groups. If they weather the storm I think the party will lose some seats but still be a viable party.
The Conservatives have problems. Their vetting process was terrible. First Mr. Scheer made it clear people with racist and homophobic views were not wanted as candidates. He said that was unacceptable. Well the Liberals exposed several for things they said publicly or on social media in the past. Instead of sticking to his word and insisting they resign or be removed like the other parties he did the unthinkable. He said, if they said they were sorry they could stay on. Now forgiveness is one thing but when you gave your word and backtracked that can have consequences and future confidence issues.
So what about the Liberals? They have many sins but the strategy they played out seems to have worked. They did weather the SNC crisis and have managed so far, to make Scheer’s calls for an investigation look like a tempest in a teapot. So where are we and what should we watch for as it moves toward election day?
The PPC are going to gain votes at the expense of the Conservatives. From what I have seen and read from their platform they resemble the same national direction as those in the United States on the extreme right. They are a party of anger and perceived grievances real or imagined. They are pressuring the conservative party with some success in a few ridings.
The Liberals are close in the polls with the Conservatives, having said that the Liberals have room to grow where as the Tories have a bit of a ceiling. The conservative heavy vote is in the west while the majority of seats in central and eastern Canada are less fertile ground for them.
The Greens will make gains and the NDP will lose some ground but will remain a viable force.
Ironically this race is still up in the air for the lower rungs on the ladder. If Scheer appears to be weaker than predicted some of their seats in central and eastern Canada could be carved off in a split.
After week one I see a reduced Liberal majority, the Conservative a weakened second the NDP neck and neck with the Greens and the PPC and the Bloc denying the Tories a shot at the brass ring.
But a word of caution……. it is only week one.