Ethics Commissioner came out with another bombshell that Trudeau broke the law. How this will impact the campaign, hard to say, but certainly not something the Liberals wanted, but considering the increasing polarization we see, may or may not mean a lot. Those who hate Trudeau to begin with will just have their views re-affirmed, while those who love him or loathe the Conservatives are not likely to change, so the question comes down to how do the on the fence voters vote? Can the Tories win them over? Will fear of Tories being too extreme keep them in Liberal column? Or will they be so disgusted with politics they just won’t vote at all? I will have more as details emerge and more regular blogs once campaign gets under way.
4 thoughts on “Brief update on Lavscam”
I agree that this issue has only polarized the electorate. It does completely burn bridges for the Liberals in areas they do not really need (i.e. the Prairies, southwestern Ontario, around Quebec City, the BC Interior) and throws most of those seats completely out of the picture for the Liberals. However, it shouldn’t impact the votes at all of the more educated, urbane populace especially in and around Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Those areas largely held up during the SNC-Lavalin scandal and are probably off limits to the Conservatives, but only represent about 90 seats.
It probably makes a majority government nearly impossible unless there are surprising vote splits. I can only see one pathway to a Liberal majority with those areas completely off the table:
* This is most important: Essentially run the table in the 905 area once again, apart from base seats for other parties like Oshawa and Thornhill. The 416 alone won’t be enough (I think the Liberals should easily win all but maybe 1 or 2 seats – most likely Agincourt and York Centre – and the NDP are in the dumps right now). Mississauga and Brampton are probably Liberal advantage at least as long as they have the most seats, while York and Durham are probably more likely to swing Conservative – they can’t afford that.
* Second most important: Pick up pretty much every Bloc and NDP seat in and around Montreal including in the 450, except perhaps the Quebec Solidaire heartland like Laurier-Sainte Marie and Hochelaga which may be harder for them. Any Bloc seats there put the Liberals farther and farther away from power (since the Bloc probably will help no one in a minority situation). The rural areas of Quebec would be bonus, but they will likely need lucky splits to get much there.
* Hold at least 3/4 of Atlantic seats. A sweep is highly unlikely (the Conservatives should get back at least a few in New Brunswick) but they can’t afford to lose more than a handful, and if they do, the NDP or Greens would at least help form coalitions.
* Hold all their seats in Vancouver and at least in the near/affluent suburbs. The outer suburbs are probably gone to the Conservatives (with help of vote splitting), but they can’t let them get close to the city. Picking up a couple NDP seats would help too.
* At least keep a beachhead in the northern areas and around Winnipeg, even though a few seats are likely to be lost.
As for the Conservatives, I agree they may have potential, but they need more to tap it without losing their base. The challenge is in the base ridings where their candidates may have to take positions that don’t help in Canada as a whole, if nothing else to keep the PPC at bay and to turn out their own voters. For example, in those ridings, taking a stance to restrict/ban abortion or to call for NRA-like gun policies would be in line with the bulk of their constituents, but would be deadly in the swing ridings. How do they manage backbenchers that need to do such? I think their most reasonable path to a majority (and only one) is:
* Run the table in the Prairies, especially in Saskatchewan and Alberta, leaving behind maybe only a handful of seats around Winnipeg.
* Take back all the BC interior seats they lost in close results as well as the suburban Lower Mainland. With a stronger Green Party, the splits should work in their favour there.
* Hold all their Ontario seats. While most should be safe, they can’t afford to give up any (most likely would be Milton, Conestoga or Carleton where demographics are trending the wrong way for them).
* Still in Ontario, they probably need at least 60 seats there, with their ceiling likely around 80 seats. They would need to probably win most of the 905, especially Durham and York, as well as traditional bellwether seats.
* They will probably need 20 to 25 seats in Quebec since too much of Ontario is likely out of play. With the Montreal area off the table, they will likely have to grow around Quebec City outward in the regions of Quebec – places like Bas-Saint-Laurent, Saguenay and Mauricie for example. Bernier’s seat would likely be among them, but he represents the only real voice in a minority situation to help them. (Also, to give them a chance at a minority government, any other seats need to go to the neutralized Bloc, who don’t help anyone.)
* They need to win back a good number of seats in Atlantic Canada. While they should get a few no matter what, they need more than the most conservative New Brunswick seats. Probably about 10 here.
The NDP? They’ll be lucky to hold official party status in my opinion.
On balance a good summary. I would say a majority is slightly easier for Liberals than Tories.
For Liberals, they need to keep their net loss to under 15 seats. That would mean picking up the lion’s share of the 16 NDP seats in Quebec and hold all in Ontario (tough but not impossible with Doug Ford’s unpopularity) and pick up a few fast growing ones like Milton, Carleton, Barrie ridings, Flamborough-Glanbrook, and Kitchener-Conestoga. That would mean they would have to lose around 30 seats elsewhere so keep their losses to a minimum elsewhere.
For Tories, they probably need a blue wave in Quebec, otherwise get a large chunk of those who voted CAQ provincially to vote Conservative federally. Due to Ford’s unpopularity, I cannot see Tories winning 80 seats. 60 maybe, but unlike with Harper who had to contend with provincial Liberal governments, I don’t think a repeat of 2011 in Ontario is likely at least not this time around. In the rest of the country more as you suggest.
I agree with CD and with the Lean Tossup election-model blog that this is a polarizing issue and Canada’s biggest Rorschach test. I’ve commented elsewhere that it should be called a Canadian Rashomon. Remember JWR opened her testimony with the phrase “I’m here to tell ‘my truth’.” A subjective personal pronoun. Trudeau’s response was that people experience things differently. Then it got down to a semantic argument over what constitutes “consultations” versus “pressure,” how much if any is “improper,” and now I’ve seen several lawyers on social media weighing in with their own take on why they felt Dion overreached in his conclusions. The Star editorial board says Trudeau is right to disagree with the findings. The right-leaning papers and pundits will of course excoriate him. He already seems to have been judged guilty in the court of public opinion, including in the NYT and other international outlets. Which also ran wild with the Hillary’s Emails story, interestingly enough…
The question that remains is whether in two months he can convince the fence-sitters and would-be Green switchers (the NDP is probably toast) to vote for the (alleged, and I’m still sticking with alleged because the debate will never really be solved) “crook,” over the homophobic socon science denialist (chocolate milk, climate change, etc.) with ties to the Rebel and yellow vests and anti-abortionists and Big Oil and gun lobby, i.e. paint Scheer as the far worse alternative if not an outright existential threat. Clinton couldn’t with Trump, and she didn’t exactly have the press on her side either; my personal hope is Trudeau will have better luck and gets at the very least a 1972-style razor-thin minority like his father rather than an outright defeat, because Scheer is abjectly awful. The only difference between him and Bernier IMHO is that Bernier says the quiet parts out loud. Remember that he came in 2nd at the leadership race with 49% of the vote, and he only lost to Scheer because of the milk lobby and western hostility towards a Quebecer. But as for everything else? This is who the CPC are.
Trudeau isn’t perfect. His crisis-handling skills are abysmal; his hiring judgment, subpar; his grasp of higher-level procedural matters, mediocre at best. His surrounding advisors and comms team (his wedding party, his college roommates, and LeBlanc his… babysitter?) also leave much to be desired. The party apparatus wears a lot of blame for destroying themselves with Sponsorgate and then desperately hitching their little red wagon to the prodigal son. I don’t think he’s the vacuous idiot his detractors make him out to be, but he is not a lawyer like his father was. He’s, well, the best of a sorry lot right now, a nice guy with sincere intentions but not the juggernaut that his old man or Chretien were. He might actually do a better job on a short leash in partnership with May and/or whoever ends up in charge of the NDP once they turf Invisible Jagmeet. Which is why I’m hoping for a Liberal minority rather than an unchecked majority. Someone needs to counterbalance Ford and Kenney. I like Trudeau on balance and don’t want to see him fail. But I do think Le Dauphin needs some help so he doesn’t keep screwing up. If he doesn’t grow up fast during a hypothetical second term he should step aside for someone like Freeland. So far I think she’s the only one speculated as his successor, and that in and of itself is a problem. The LPC have crippled themselves in their own way by morphing into a party of one. Look at the difficulty the Democrats have, losing with Clinton and now likely to run Biden in 2020 because of nostalgia for Obama. Cue Chelsea vs. Ivanka in 2024. Personality cults are unsustainable. I’m waiting for the NDP to run Kiefer Sutherland.
Lavalife is a big mess and damaging to be certain, but the Liberals need to shape up their comms and make the case that the CPC are worse. They’ve jumped the shark into unreality and juvenile rhetoric of their own. Yet it’s only because of Trudeau’s blunders, controversies, occasional Bidenesque bouts of foot-in-mouth disease and other “optics” problems like this that they’re even in contention at all. Even a 1979 result wouldn’t be so worrisome if this was still the party of Clark. Trudeau has faltered immensely but Scheer is unfit to be PM. I happen to think they’re engaging in a great deal of over-the-top, hair-on-fire hyperbole on this issue comparing Trudeau to Trump, Nixon, etc., calling the police, staging astroturf social media campaigns calling for him to be imprisoned (“lock him up”). Lavalife really sounds more like Clinton with the emails story, Dion playing the role of Comey with the last-minute reopening of the case rather than Mueller with the trial of the century. There’s so much about to this election that brings about deja vu of the US in 2016. But voters experience “their truths” differently, so… I guess whether history repeats itself depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is?
I also think a big part is will Red Tory/Blue Liberal vote hold their noses up and vote Trudeau or hold their nose up and vote Scheer or perhaps not vote at all. In some ways Ford is probably why Trudeau is still in the game. Had the PCs chosen Elliott or stuck with Brown, I think Liberals would be in a lot worse shape in Ontario as Ford basically represents incompetence and all the worst stereotypes of Conservatives. I think Scheer is fairly conservative at heart, but like Harper and unlike Bernier he is a pragmatist who realizes most Canadians are not, so he won’t go as far right as he might wish to as he knows it would be political suicide. By contrast Bernier takes the damn the torpedoes attitude and run on principles and who cares what public thinks.
On this hardcore Trudeau supporters aren’t going to bail over this and his haters will just be re-enforced so its those in between and social media is the worse place to figure out what they are thinking as it tends to attract mostly rabid partisans.