Trudeau's Job in Jeopardy as Canadians Head to the Polls

Conservatives want to punish prime minister for holding election during pandemic
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2021 1:23 PM CDT
Canadians Vote in 2nd Election in 2 Years
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau arrives to cast his ballot in the 44th general federal election as he's joined by wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, and children, Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien in Montreal on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.   (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Canadians headed to the polls Monday for the country's second federal election in less than two years—and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's job could be in jeopardy. Trudeau, whose Liberal Party formed a minority government after the October 2019 election, called the election last month, hoping to win a majority, but the fact that an election was being held two years ahead of schedule during a pandemic turned out to be a major campaign issue. Polls suggest that the most likely outcome is another Trudeau-led minority government, though there is a 25% chance of Erin O'Toole's Conservative Party winning the most seats in Parliament, and a 1% chance of O'Toole winning a majority. More:

  • Turnout will be key. With polls showing the two biggest parties tied at around 31% each, turnout will be a major factor, the BBC reports. The left-wing New Democratic Party, which won 44 of the 338 seats in Parliament in the 2019 election, is polling at almost 20%.

  • O'Toole wants voters to "punish" Trudeau. The Conservative leader, who calls the prime minister "entitled" and "divisive," has asked voters to punish Trudeau for calling the election, the CBC reports. O'Toole's party had an early lead in the polls, but it evaporated amid concerns about his policies on firearms and vaccinations. O'Toole has described vaccination as a personal choice. The right-wing vote is also being split by the far-right People's Party of Canada, which strongly opposes COVID measures including lockdowns and vaccine mandates.
  • Trudeau hopes to be rewarded. Canada is one of the world's most vaccinated countries and Trudeau is gambling that voters will reward him for his handling of the pandemic, the AP reports. "He’s more interested in standing up for the rights of anti-vaxxers within his own party than he is in standing up for people who have done the right things and want to get back to normal," Trudeau said of O'Toole at a campaign stop Friday.

  • A "grumpy" electorate. Pollsters say Trudeau's decision to call a snap election now appears to be a potentially career-ending mistake. "I think many of us misread what was an optimistic country in terms of where we're going, the vaccines and everything, and we just mistook what was a really grumpy, anxious, kind of tired electorate that had no real desire at all to have an election," says pollster David Coletto, per CTV.
  • Endorsements from south of the border. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama endorsed Trudeau last week, with Clinton praising Trudeau's fight for "accessible child care, protected reproductive rights, and ambitious climate action," La Presse reports. Bernie Sanders has endorsed NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.
  • Results may be delayed. More voters than usual have sent in mail-in ballots, which go through extra verification processes, and the full results might not be known until Tuesday at the earliest, though clues to the outcome might arrive sooner with results from swing areas like the Toronto suburbs, per the CBC.
(Read more Canada stories.)

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