BLUESKY BRIEF - September 14th

Advance polling stations are now closed and candidates are focusing on the voters who have not yet made that final decision. Polls are still indicating a minority government with the Liberals and Conservatives fighting for first place and the NDP becoming the swing vote which inevitably could lead to “the most interesting, complex, unpredictable and important federal election in many decades.”

That’s why the Bluesky team of political observers is looking at what strategies the three main parties need to take to be first across the finish line on September 20th.

From the desk of Susan Smith, Principal

The final countdown is on and there are three things that Liberals need to do in the lead-up to election day. The first is emphasizing the difference between Trudeau’s leadership versus O’Toole’s lack thereof. Look for the Liberals to press further on the vaccination issue (for domestic travellers and Conservative candidates), O’Toole’s wobbly position on assault weapons, climate change targets and scrapping $10 a day affordable child care and the spaces that will come with it. The aggressive and appalling anti-vaxxer protests against health care workers will hurt O’Toole and possibly help Trudeau. Team Liberal will also be highlighting “which is the real Erin O’Toole? ”as the CPC leader continues to dance with the right-wing of his party to ensure that they don’t vote for Max Bernier’s wingnuts, and especially now that the “new kind of Conservative leader” has gone back to hard, personal attacks on Trudeau. Trudeau will focus on the key Liberal policy planks that help keep people safe in communities and on planes and trains; that help parents return to the workforce and that combat climate change.

The second they must do is to swing the progressive vote to the Liberal team. With such a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives, soft NDP voters will be concerned about key achievable issues like affordable child care, forward-looking climate change plans and concrete and costed measures (the NDP plan is still fuzzy on costs) to help with home affordability. Trudeau is the devil they know, O’Toole is a peekaboo Conservative who doesn’t control his caucus on guns, conversion therapy and women’s right to choose. The Liberals will encourage voters to cast their ballots strategically to ensure that a split in the progressive vote doesn’t allow a Conservative government and Conservative-right agenda to squeak into the House of Commons.

The final thing that the Liberals should be doing is motivating Liberal voters to get to the polls. This last week will be about events with Justin Trudeau in-person and online town halls, targeted ads to potential voters and continued candidate outreach to activate a strong “Get Out the Vote” ground game to bring Liberal voters out on September 20th. It’s going to be a heckuva week. Buckle up.

From the desk of Neil Brodie, Vice-President

There's only one strategy left for all parties in the last week of an election campaign.

To paraphrase Rhianna: work work work work work.

At this stage of the campaign. There are no more policies to release. There are no more numbers to crunch. Right now it's about identifying supporters, and ensuring your supporters get out to vote. Mr. Trudeau still cannot answer the simple question, why are we having this election? With this basic question left unanswered, many Canadians are likely asking themselves why they should vote. This is why getting out the vote is so important to the Parties.

An unfortunate side effect of having such a close election campaign running is that both front runners, Mr. Trudeau and Mr. O'Toole, will be convinced that going negative against their opponents is the proper way to go. Mr. Trudeau has been doing this most of the campaign. Using wedge issues to turn some Canadians against other Canadians: you are either with team Trudeau, or you're with the bad people. Mr. O'Toole for the most part has been running a positive campaign. Looking to the future and describing to Canadians his vision. It would behoove Mr. O'Toole to continue a positive campaign to differentiate himself from Mr. Trudeau.

Unfortunately, the lure of negative campaigning can be strong and that’s to the detriment of Canadians. Let’s hope both leaders rise to the occasion and present only positive ideas from now until September 20th

From the desk of Cameron Holmstrom, Consultant

We’re into the final week of the campaign and at this point in the game, discipline matters. Discipline in your messaging, discipline in your schedule and discipline when it comes to keeping focused on the end goal. The New Democrats have managed to show and maintain that discipline throughout the first 30 days of this campaign, which has them in a good position to make gains as a party. It’s a position they have earned and now is the time to close the deal.

To close the deal in the last week of the campaign, the NDP needs to maintain that discipline that has gotten them to this point, particularly when it comes to their messaging. They need to continue to point to their work during the last parliament to show how they were there for Canadians in their time of need. They need to continue to contrast that record against what is being laid out by the Liberals and Conservatives. And most importantly, they need to remind Canadians that they have another choice between the “red door” or the “blue door”.

That task will get harder as we get closer to September 20th as the Liberals will continue to ratchet up the pressure. Sticking to the NDP record and continuing to make that contrast is the best way for the Orange Team to defend against this tried and tired Liberal approach. The NDP also needs to focus on the basics of the campaign, namely getting voters out to the polls. In a campaign that is so tight, every vote will count and the party needs to continue to push to get voters out to exercise their franchise. A month of discipline has gotten them to this point and now is the time to finish the job.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau returned to the west coast to announce that if his government is re-elected, health workers would get the support they need and in return, keep Canadians safe and healthy.

Speaking in Ottawa, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole shared his party’s plan to support Canadian parents.

Healthcare workers were also on the mind of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh who announced that his party will protect them and their patients from violence.

FACE TO FACE…DAY TWO – It was Trudeau’s turn to have voters and CBC’s Rosemary Barton ask him questions.

FRUIT OR SAVORY? Green Party leader Annamie Paul shows her love for PEI’s favourite handpies.

WORTH THE WAIT – Long lineups were all the rage on Twitter last night as voters marked their ballots for the final day of advance polls.

Here is where you can expect the leaders to be today (all times are in Eastern):

Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada is in Richmond, B.C., where he will make an announcement at 11 am.

Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada remains in Ottawa where he will make an announcement at 11 am. In the evening. In the evening, he will hold a virtual telephone town hall with residents from Atlantic Canada and Quebec residents.

Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP will speak to the media at 830 am on Bloor Street East in Toronto about the “cost of Trudeau’s inaction on rising cellphone bills.” Later in the day, he will attend campaign events in Windsor.

Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada continues her visit to Prince Edward Island, where she will hold a press conference at 1015 am.

Yves Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois starts the day in Cap-aux-Meule where he will speak to the media at 930 am. In the afternoon, he will hold another media availability at 130 pm in Caraquet and in the evening, he will attend an all-candidates debate for the riding of Beloeil–Chambly.

Consultant Cameron Holmstrom appeared on the Political Heat panel on 580 CFRA.

About Bluesky Strategy Group

Bluesky Strategy Group Inc. is a full-service public affairs firm with nearly two decades of extensive experience working with clients - from corporate, not-for-profit, and national associations, to governments, departments and agencies. We provide our clients with government relations, strategic communications and media relations advice and execution.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter @blueskygroupand LinkedIn

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