BLUESKY BRIEF - August 15, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a visit to Governor General Mary Simon this morning with his family in tow and triggered an election that will bring voters to the ballot box on September 20th.

Does the prime minister have a convincing argument as to why this has to happen? Will Canadians embrace the campaign and give him the majority he is seeking? Will the Conservatives, NDP, Bloc Quebecois and the Greens be able to make gains and prevent that from happening?

Let’s find out..

From the desk of Tim Barber, Co-founder and Principal

Start your engines!

For the second time in six years, we are kicking off an election campaign in August, but this will be an election unlike anything we have ever seen before – a national campaign held during a pandemic.

For the next 36 days, we will be seeing party leaders touring the country, but COVID-19 protocols are going to force candidates and their teams to adjust tactics.

National campaigns will likely have to re-think their reliance on large indoor rallies and put an even greater emphasis on digital engagement.

Local campaigns will likely have to forego their tried-and-true method of voter interaction: knocking on doors.

Things will be very different this time.

Campaigns will likely keep much of their powder dry for the first few weeks while many Canadians are still on vacation, with the most intense activity coming in the last fourteen days of the election period, post-Labour Day – media buys, debates, the tempo of travel and events.

However, after September 6th, many offices are re-opening, schools are back in session, there may be a spike in COVID cases, there will most certainly be division over “vaccine passports”…there are lots of unknowns. That’s what makes elections so exciting and uncertain.

In Prime Minister Trudeau, the Liberals have one of the most gifted campaigners I have ever seen. His team – tour, policy, digital – is first-rate. Canadians seem generally satisfied with the performance of his government through the pandemic.

Will the voting public give his government credit for helping to manage through unprecedented times and entrust him with a third term and task of rebuilding the economy? That is the ballot question.

From the desk of Neil Brodie, Vice President

With the Toronto Star telling us two-thirds of Canadians don’t want an election, the Prime Minister went to the Governor General this morning and asked for Parliament to be dissolved throwing the country into a summer election.

Mr. O’Toole has staked his electoral fortunes on a five-point plan, which is the same construct that defeated the last Liberal minority government in 2005-05: a plan for reasonable spending, updating anti-corruption laws, strengthen mental health services, boosting Canadian manufacturing and growing the economy to increase employment.

Mr. Trudeau will have to explain to the electorate why a national election is needed during a pandemic, other than a vanity exercise. Whether continued, unrestrained spending is required for the foreseeable future after a year of unprecedented public spending. And why, even after Canada has achieved the best vaccination rate in the world, Canada is not open for business and Canadians are being shut out of other countries.

Mr. Singh has caught momentum rising steadily in the polls heading into the election. Pundits say he’s stolen the 18-24 vote from the Liberals. Will it be enough to gain seats or just enough to split the vote in swing ridings handing some unexpected wins to the Conservative Party, like 2011?

Some wild cards to watch for during the campaign, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s book is expected to be released a week before election day, continued developments related to detained Canadians in China and the seriousness of an expected 4th wave of COVID-19.

Buckle up!

From the desk of Cameron Holmstrom, Consultant

So I guess we’re doing this, aren’t we?

A federal election that few want, without a reasonable case for it, interrupting the end of everyone’s summers and during the start of the fourth wave of COVID. Much ink has been spilled, as many questions why we need this election now because it’s pretty clear that we don’t. Yet it’s happening folks, whether if you like it or not.

Starting a campaign with Canadians in such a mood is not usually a formula for great turnout or success, and that’s before you add a global pandemic to the equation. If the last 16 months of COVID have felt like an eternity, this 36-day campaign promises to feel like a few months at least. No one can honestly say what the ballot question will be on September 20th. It feels safe to say that this campaign has strong potential to be unpredictable, with a high risk of volatility, due to the mindset of the electorate.

Canadians are still under great stress. From the pandemic to job losses & climate change-driven natural disasters, many Canadians don’t have the patience or tolerance for the usual political stuff that they digest. That raises the risk for a government that calls the election and opens itself up to big political risk as COVID continues to rage, schools re-open and the economy sputters. This election is a calculated risk for the Liberals. Will it pay off or will it blow up? We can’t say today. But I do feel safe in saying that this campaign will not be the sleepy, late-summer campaign the Liberals are hoping for. It’s going to be a campaign that will be studied for years to come. The question remains if it will be studied as an example of political genius, or political hubris.

The Liberals unveiled the slogan that they will be using throughout the campaign and a new advertising campaign that “focuses on the work ahead to keep Canada moving forward.”

Liberal Party of Canada National English Ad (60 seconds): Relentless Liberal Party of Canada National English Ad (30 seconds): Relentless

For the Conservative Party of Canada,

For the NDP, they are

Here is where you can expect the leaders to be today:

Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada – Ottawa then attending pride events in Montreal

Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada – Ottawa

Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP – Montreal

Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada – Toronto

Yves Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois - Montreal

Rideau Hall released this photo of Governor General Mary Simon during today’s meeting with the Prime Minister.

Conservative Party of Canada launch attack ad ahead of the election call (click on image to view)

Checkout our pre-election watch placemat

Bright and early this morning, the Bluesky team was adding their voice to the campaign coverage:

Principal Susan Smith on CPAC’s Vote 2021 Election Campaign Special

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