With an Election Looming, Here’s What Each of the Major Parties Need to Worry About

This year, your vote might come down to picking the lesser of these evils

Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh, are candidates in the upcoming election. (wiki.commons)

This year’s election landscape looks very different from the one we saw in 2015. Both the Conservatives and the NDP have new leaders, while the Liberals are contending with a fresh set of scandals.

So what does every major party need to do to stand a chance?

The NDP has not been having a good run. While Jagmeet Singh was elected as party leader on the first ballot, it seems like he has now lost much of his steam. Through the last year it’s felt like Singh has been somewhat phoning it in.

It’s all too easy to look south—at major figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren—and wonder what the hell the NDP is doing. Why hasn’t the NDP been more critical of the Liberal scheme of taxing the wealthy slightly more while being revenue neutral?

It’s no secret that its funding is down, but many members of parliament are already telling reporters that they won’t run in 2019, or that they are outright disappointed with Singh. Things might change with his recent success in winning a seat in Burnaby-South, though. He earned 13 per cent more of the vote than the candidate in second place, but Singh only has a few months in Parliament to make a good impression before the federal election gears up.

The Conservatives are now led by Andrew Scheer, who is less charismatic and less cerebral than Harper was. Whether you love or hate Harper, he had a clear ideology and goals that he wanted to implement, as opposed to Scheer’s vague, reactionary ideas.

If you sat down with Harper, at least he could talk your ear off on economic policy in an understandable and intelligent way. Scheer hasn’t demonstrated that he’s capable of that. Conservatives are attempting to make the Liberal carbon tax into the boogeyman of the next election, though the success of the B.C. tax and having no answer when asked about their own climate plan might harm them. We can also expect them to make a point about pipelines, but the policy details that are holding up such development are too persnickety for a clever attack ad to work in their favour.

More alarmingly, and perhaps to their detriment, the Conservative Party is playing a little loose with some immigration-skepticism. A now-revoked Twitter ad attempted to characterize the Liberal plan as open borders, which is a lie. The fit they threw over the UN Migration Pact was equally ridiculous and ill-informed, and won’t stand up to fact checking on Canadian news networks. A cynical analysis of this behaviour could be an attempt to capture potential People’s Party (of Canada) voters, but it’s hard to say for sure at this time.

Meanwhile, the Liberals have their own scandals to contend with. Yes, scandals are just a part of politics these days, but the timing is bad for the Liberals. The damage of the recent scandal involving the PMO and SNC-Lavalin has been proven statistically, with a Feb. 26 poll putting the Liberals two per cent behind the Conservatives.

With this in mind, along with the drudgery of the other two parties, the next election looks like it’s for the Liberals to lose. In order to assure themselves of a high chance of success, they need to clean up the SNC-Lavalin scandal as soon as possible.

If it weren’t for that scandal, they could head into 2019 being able to say that they kept the Trump factor from destroying NAFTA, that they legalized marijuana, and that the economy has remained relatively level during their time. Trudeau also needs to sell the fact that he holds town halls where he puts himself at the mercy of regular citizens who don’t get their questions screened before asking them. This is something that Scheer currently hasn’t done.

The Liberals may also stand to benefit from a weak NDP, and nothing indicates that quite like former leader Tom Mulcair suggesting that unexcited NDPers might look towards the Green Party on voting day. They might also benefit from a Conservative Party which is weak on economic messaging and a bit too loud on immigration.

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