Politics Insider

The Liberal supporters who'd like Trudeau held to a minority. Yes, they exist.

Politics Insider for Oct. 18: Scheer's carbon tax kill-date, minority muddle and déjà-Trudeau

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‘That individual of whom I know’: With polls showing that two-thirds of voters support parties that want to see the price on carbon rise from where it is now (the Liberals, NDP, Greens and Bloc), Andrew Scheer doubled down on his plan to scrap carbon pricing, vowing that his government’s first act would be to axe the tax. If that sounds at all familiar, Doug Ford swept to power in Ontario on a promise to make scrapping the province’s cap and trade program his first act as Premier. Not that Scheer is capable of acknowledging Ford in anything but the most passive of language. “Doug Ford and I have met previously, we’ve chatted previously,” he said in a radio interview Thursday morning.

What the polls say: Going into the final weekend of the campaign, the polls show NDP momentum continuing to gain while the Liberals and Conservatives locked in a dead heat. A Forum Research polls shows the NDP have 20 per cent support among decided voters, up from 12 per cent nine days ago, while the Liberals and Conservatives 30 and 29 per cent respectively. A new Mainstreet Research poll points to similar results: Liberals 31.9, Conservatives 30.9 and NDP at 18.6 per cent. The latest seat projection from 338Canada, as of Oct. 17, sees the Liberals and Conservatives winning an average of 132 seats each, followed by the Bloc at 36 seats, the NDP at 33 and the Greens at 4.

‘Four more (reined in) years’: We all know by now polls are showing a very likely minority government come Monday night. What might surprise you is that a significant share of partisan Liberals are actually hoping their boss is held to a minority, according to a new poll done by Innovative Research Group for Maclean’s:

When presented with a hypothetical scenario in which the Liberals win the most seats on Election Day, nearly one-quarter of Liberal partisans (22 per cent) said they’d rather Team Trudeau win a minority of the seats in Parliament, according to a poll done by Innovative Research Group for Maclean’s. Another six per cent of Liberal supporters said they didn’t know if they preferred a Liberal majority of minority. Among Conservative backers, 12 per cent would prefer their party to win a minority, with four per cent unsure.

As a whole, 40 per cent of Canadians polled by Innovative said they’d rather the election end with a minority government, compared to 43 per cent who said they’d like a majority government. (The other 17 per cent are still unsure.)

“There are some voters within the base of every party that would be happy to see their party have a minority because they’re not completely sold on everything their party wants to do—which I think is healthy,” says Greg Lyle, the president of Innovative Research. “Leaders don’t get a blank cheque, even from their own people.” (Read more.)

Minority problem: One minority government scenario that’s getting a lot of attention is this: What happens if Scheer wins more seats than Trudeau, but not enough to form a majority? As Carleton University Professor Philippe Lagassé explains here, the Constitution would allow for Trudeau, as the current prime minister, to tell the Governor General that he wants to form a government and attempt to win a confidence vote in the House. However, by tradition, the party that wins a plurality of votes (the most, but not a majority) has almost always gone on to form government. (The only exception was in 1925.) 

At a campaign stop Scheer called on Trudeau to resign if the Liberals wins fewer minority seats than the Conservatives. Meanwhile in an interview with CTV he went further about how he’d navigate a minority, seemingly asserting he could hold power without the support of other parties in the House: “We’re not going to ask other parties for support. We’re going to put our platform out to Canadians about how we’re going to lower taxes, make life more affordable. And we will implement that agenda. We expect that other parties will respect the fact that whichever party wins the most seats gets to form the government and that they will understand that if Canadians — when Canadians — endorse our platform, that we would have the right to implement it.”

For his part Trudeau hasn’t said during this election where he stands on the question of who gets to try to lead the country if the Conservatives win more votes in a minority situation, but in 2015 he did: “Yes, that’s the way it’s always been, whoever commands the most seats gets the first shot at governing. Whoever gets the most seats gets the first shot at trying to command the confidence of the House.”

Like father like son: While we’re on the subject of past elections, this campaign bears striking similarities to the one Pierre Trudeau fought in 1972 to just barely secure his second term. John Geddes spoke with John English, historian and author of the Trudeau Sr. biography Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968-2000 about the many parallels between then and now, and the lessons they offer:

That 1972 campaign was fought to a virtual draw between his Liberals and Robert Stanfield’s Conservatives, leaving a chastened Trudeau relying on NDP support in order to remain to power with a minority government.

It’s hardly necessary to remark on that there’s an echo in the air. If Justin Trudeau is reduced to an NDP-backed minority on Oct. 21, he’ll have been knocked down a peg from his surprise 2015 majority triumph in a way that’s uncannily similar to how his father was proved to be a mere mortal only four years after his storied “Trudeaumania” victory in 1968. (Read more.)

How do you say mud in Chinese?: A day after Trudeau soulfully revealed that he regrets his failure to defeat divisiveness and unite Canadians, the Liberals got down into the muck pile that has become Chinese-language political advertising right alongside their Conservative rivals. Earlier the Conservatives ran Chinese language ads falsely claiming that Trudeau plans to legalize hard drugs like cocaine. Now the Liberals have countered with their own ads targeting the Chinese community. One shows Scheer with the Chinese character for “false” stamped across his face, while the other claims the Conservatives would see the streets flooded with assault rifles.