As Canadians head to the polls on Monday, prime minister Justin Trudeau will be watching nervously to see if his gamble to call an election will win his party more power in parliament – or leave him with even fewer seats and rivals sensing a growing political weakness.
But in a tightly contested election marred by a public health crisis and concerns over delays in ballot counting, it could take days to learn the winner.
Trudeau called the election in late August, hoping he could convert goodwill from a successful vaccine rollout into electoral gains. 그러나 후에는 36 days of campaigning during a pandemic, including a number of virtual events, no party is favourite to capture the 170 seats needed for a majority in the House of Commons.
“There is lots of work still to do, and I’m nowhere near done yet,” Trudeau said over the weekend as he made his pitch for a third term.
His government, in addition to running on one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, is also campaigning on a plan to offer C$10 (£5.70) a day childcare within five years.
“No matter how popular a politician is, the longer he or she is in office, the more things will stick to him or her,” said Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, a Vancouver-based polling firm.
Recent polling suggests Trudeau, prime minister since 2015, enjoys a slim lead in the polls, which would probably translate into another minority government for his Liberals – leaving them in the same place they were before the election was called.
In the final days of campaigning, Trudeau’s opponents continued to complain that the election was not necessary.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, who has offered his own childcare plan, as well as benefits for gig workers, slammed Trudeau’s “vanity project” decision to send Canadians to the polls during a public health crisis.
“This pandemic election is vain, risky and selfish. 사실로, it’s un-Canadian,”그는 말했다.
On Saturday, as he toured the prairie region where he hopes to make inroads, New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh also criticised Trudeau’s decision to hold an election.
“Mr Trudeau has been all for show. His decisions have hurt people,” said Singh, who has run on a campaign to lower costs for Canadians – and to tax the country’s wealthiest. “He has shown whose side he’s on. He’s not on your side.”
Polling suggests that nearly three-quarters of Canadians did not want the election.
Despite devastating wildfires in July and a nationwide reckoning over the discovery of unmarked graves in the months leading up to the election call, neither issue became a dominant thread of the campaign.
대신, party leaders sparred over vaccine mandates and which party could best tackle the looming affordability crisis in the country.
Kurl, who hosted the country’s only English-language debate, said turnout will be critical for the governing Liberals if they want to cling to power.
거의 5.8 million Canadians have already cast ballots – a new record for early voting, and an increase of 18% over the 4.9 million who voted in the 2019 선거.
But last week the elections administrator warned it could face delays on Monday after it fell short of its hiring goal by 40,000 사람들.
동시에, mail-in ballots will not be counted until polls close, meaning that in some electoral districts where the race is tight, it might take days to know the result.
뿐 1.2 million people requested the kits, well short of the two to three million people Elections Canada had expected.
Trudeau will be looking to protect his position in Ontario and Quebec, which command a majority of parliament’s 338 seats.
Conservatives are expected to sweep much of the prairies and are also hoping for gains in Ontario and Quebec, but the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) could prove problematic for O’Toole.
The party – which has run on an anti-immigrant, Islamophobic libertarian platform – has seen its popularity surge in recent weeks, driven in large part by frustration over vaccine and mask mandates as well as other public-health measures.
“The pandemic has caused a lot of anger and a lot of anxiety. Certain segments of the population are frustrated,” said Eric Merkley, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto. “But the jury’s out on the degree to which the People’s Party of Canada eats into the Conservative base.”
Pollsters have increasingly found that support for the PPC, formed in 2018, does not just come from hard-right voters.
“A lot of them are non-voters that are alienated from the political system,” said Merkley. “Maybe the People’s Party is eating into the Conservative vote a little bit now, but whether that continues to be the case as election day approaches really remains to be seen.
“I thought the Liberals would have been able to kind of ride a vaccine wave, take credit for our mass vaccination and be in better shape than they are now.
“But we’re dealing with a situation where the Canadian public is pretty highly fractured, so the prospects of any party winning a commanding majority, with the electorate as it is today, is unlikely.”
Under Canada’s parliamentary system, Trudeau will be given the first chance to form a government if no party reaches 170 seats – even if his Liberal party comes second to the Conservatives. It will be up to opposition parties to work with him – or band together to defeat him in the coming months.