We have now entered the final week of campaigning and the election looks far from certain. I will next weekend give my final thoughts, who I plan to vote for and why. I will also give a prediction too however, right now only giving preliminary thoughts. Below will first be on what are possible governments I could see and in order of likelihood while below that on a few issues of the day.
At this point, I think we can safely rule out the idea of an NDP government. Never seemed likely, but I always did give a small possibility of one based on what happened in Alberta in 2015 and Ontario 1990. But with NDP stuck around 20%, there is too little time for a major surge. I also think we can safely rule out a Conservative majority too. A Conservative majority was always very unlikely and required a massive breakthrough in Quebec which is not happening despite Legault’s semi-endorsement. Simply speaking, urban areas have swung enough left in last decade that replicating the Harper win of 2011, particularly in BC and Ontario is no longer feasible. Yes Tories can win most of the seats they won in 2011, but around 20 or so have shifted enough they are no longer winnable. So below are the four possibilities I see as feasible in order of likelihood
- Liberal minority: Notwithstanding polls, I still believe the most likely outcome is the Liberals win the most seats but fall short of a majority. My reason for thinking this is two fold: party has only been in power for 6 years and despite some mess ups, I don’t think we have yet reached time for change point. Other is Canadians are very risk averse, particularly in Ontario and I think fear of a Tory government will be enough to push both some NDP/Liberal and some Liberal/Tory swing voters into Liberal column at last minute. Most don’t believe O’Toole is as extreme as caricature Liberals paint him as, but many don’t want to take a chance even if a small one. People want to get to see more of him and know him more before they are comfortable giving him the reigns to power.
- Tory seat plurality: In this case, Tories win the most seats, but Liberals + NDP still have 170 seats so Trudeau remains prime-minister. Irrespective of who gets most seats, the NDP will not back the Tories. If Tories form government they may work with them on some issues in common, but they know propping them up would be political suicide. In Europe, centre-left parties that have propped up centre-right ones have generally suffered greatly in subsequent elections and NDP knows same would happen to them so they will avoid this. Bloc Quebecois will back whomever wins most seats as on some issues like decentralization and more health care funding they align more with Tories, but on other things like childcare, climate change, and gun control they align more with Liberals thus even if CPC + BQ is over 170 seats, they won’t back Tories unless they beat Liberals in seats.
- Conservative minority: This is still very possible but not most likely outcome. I think Tories are favoured to beat Liberals in votes, but in seats I think Liberals still have slight edge although Tory vote is not quite as inefficient as in 2019. This likely happens due to low turnout as Tory voters far more motivated to show up than those of other parties. Also with PPC over 5% in many polls, I wouldn’t be shocked if some swing back to Tories at last minute to help defeat Liberals just as I suspect some NDP voters will swing over to Liberals to block a Tory win. For this to happen however, CPC + BQ must exceed 170 seats and with BQ rising in Quebec that might happen. However for Tories, I believe 150 seats is their ceiling while 105 seats floor and most likely outcome right now around 130 seats.
- Liberal majority: While a Tory majority may be out of the picture, I don’t believe a Liberal majority is at all. Unlikely sure, but not impossible. Low turnout probably hurts NDP most, not Liberals and likewise I could see many swing voters breaking for Liberals in final week. While that alone won’t get them over the 170 seat line; there are enough super close ridings that if they all break towards Liberals, they can win a majority. By contrast Tories cannot win a majority even if every close riding breaks in their favour. Right now I give the Liberals about a 10% chance of a majority while the Tories I would give about a 0.1% chance of one thus pretty much zero.
As for issues and campaigns, I have gotten a little turned off with Liberal attack ads. I would rather they focus on what they plan to do, not how bad other party is. However, attack ads do work and I think while maybe not as fatal as party has hoped, I do think they are having a minor impact. In fact without them, I think a Tory minority would be most likely outcome, but believe they have shifted enough votes to allow Liberals to win a weaker minority. Maybe only shifted 1-2%, but in a close race that can mean difference between government and opposition.
For Tories, they really dropped the ball on gun control and I hope if this costs them the election, they put an end to their flirting with gun lobby and cut them loose like they should have all along. Groups like CCFR and NFA are very extreme and may fire up your rabid gun enthusiasts, but scare the rest of us off. Gun control is not a major voting issue, but all Liberals had to do was find one issue, no matter how minor, to show party was too far right and this appears to be just that issue. I also think rolling out platform early helped party early on, but now less to talk about thus why party stalling and having trouble keeping momentum. Still with a week to go a lot can happen, but I do think momentum has turned in Liberals’ favour even if only very slightly.