We are now in the final two weeks of campaign, but with Labour Day just ending, this is when more pay attention and will be real test. I am guessing by next week, we should have a better idea of one party is starting to break away or if more status quo in polling. We have already had first French debate and tonight second one and tomorrow English debate. I think debates are normally overrated as usually they just re-affirm what people already thought, but occasionally you have knockout punches like Mulroney’s you had an option sir in 1984 or Gordon Wilson’s famous quip this is why nothing gets done in BC 1991 that do lead to radical poll changes. But those are the exception not the norm. Nonetheless Quebec seems to have a much higher level of undecided voters than rest of Canada so I think French debate has a greater possibility of seeing a large shift to one party than English. With all campaign promises rolled out, now is the dogfight of presenting ideas and hitting the other party hard while covering for vulnerabilities.
Trudeau has been increasingly dogged by aggressive and nasty protesters. No idea exactly who these are, but they do seem like fringe types and ironically are probably doing more to help Trudeau than hurt. Either way, disagreement with a political leader is a fundamental part of democracy, but violence and threats have no place in our politics. Disagree respectfully, donate or volunteer for another party, but the type of intimidation and threats at events needs to stop and all party leaders need to condemn this. At same time with emotions running high, I believe RCMP needs to step up security of PM. As much as people may find this inconvenient, I am afraid mandatory checks before rallies or by invitation only is something prime-minister should consider. Yes I know we pride ourselves in fact our politicians are easily accessible, but sadly it seems with greater polarization things may need to change.
Other big issue is O’Toole’s flip flop on gun control. Liberals have been throwing the kitchen sink at O’Toole and so far nothing has landed yet, but this just might be the issue that does. My position on gun control has clearly been that all centrefire semi-automatics with detachable magazines whether military style or not need to be banned and removed through a mandatory buyback like Australia did in 1996, New Zealand in 2019, and UK in 1988. While Tory platform has on balance been quite moderate and looks more like that of the old Progressive Conservatives than Reform party; on gun control they have not and I believe that was a big mistake. I think party assumed since not a top of mind issue, this was where they could pander to base as gun lobby while a minority; are very aggressive and powerful. Party misread that most of us have seen the horror these weapons can cause in mass shootings and don’t want them. Some in gun lobby will claim if only Canadians understood gun laws better and function of these guns, they would be fine. But I believe that is mistaken. Politics today is often fought on emotional issues and people may not know all the ends and outs of gun laws, but they know two things: which are these guns can kill a lot of people quickly and you don’t need these to hunt. Most don’t accept fun at the range as a justified reason to own such deadly weapons. Likewise most don’t either accept extensive vetting either as good enough. Also the fact the types attracted to these weapons often tend to be hard right types who own them to show how tough they are only strengthens opposition. Most are not against people owning hunting rifles to hunt, but are against these. Tories should have seen this coming and never put this in their platform. Yes I get to win Tory nomination, you have to cozy up to gun lobby. But O’Toole should have said that after becoming leader, he spoke to other groups and based on what he has heard, he has determined these are not appropriate for civilian ownership. Yes it might lead to losing some to PPC, but most of those voters are in safe Tory ridings anyways and would help gain more middle of the road voters in key swing ridings. And in our system it is seats not votes. I am glad he walked it back a bit, but even myself as a political amateur would have seen this coming. What is more surprising is platform on balance is a very moderate one clearly aimed at middle of the road swing voters, not base like Scheer and Harper did. I fear this might cost him the election which is too bad as he has on balance moved the party closer to the centre where it needs to be. I just hope that if party loses over this, they change their gun policy, not swing back to right.
As for polls, there seems some convergence but general trend is Tories slightly ahead, but in seats it could go either way. At this point I think a majority for either party is a real long shot and unless polls change dramatically over next five days, probably impossible unless a big polling miss like 2013 in BC. I do think on popular vote, Tories more likely to win as their base is most energized and they are strongest with types most likely to show up. But on seats I see it going either way. That being said since one doesn’t need to win most seats to form government in our Westminster parliamentary system, so I think odds of Trudeau still being PM at end of year slightly higher than Erin O’Toole being PM. Still fact O’Toole could win is a big change from a month ago when he had almost no chance.