Photomontage: Le Devoir À plus d’un an et demi avant les élections, prévues en 2025, tout n’est pas encore joué pour Justin Trudeau. Mais pour remonter la pente, le premier ministre devra absolument cibler un enjeu central sur lequel concentrer ses efforts, avance le politologue Jean-François Daoust.
Huge. This is the word that political scientists consulted by Le Devoir use to describe the slope that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have to climb in 2024 if he wishes to obtain a fourth mandate at the head of the country.
After a summer marked by difficult polls, the fall proved disastrous for the Liberals – their voting intentions having reached their lowest level in two years. At the end of December, a gap of more than ten points with the Conservative Party of Pierre Poilievre suggested a major political showdown for the new year.
This is not the first storm that Justin Trudeau has braved since coming to power: the SNC-Lavalin affair, the WE scandal, the COVID-19 pandemic… But the end-of-year 2023 figures are “unprecedented” in the Trudeau era, notes Philippe J. Fournier, creator of the poll aggregators Qc125 and 338Canada.
Satisfaction with the government, appreciation of the Prime Minister, voting intentions… Contrary to the repercussions of past controversies, “all the indicators fell at the same time this year”, he underlines in an interview with Duty.
This text is published via our Perspectives section.
With more than a year and a half before the elections, scheduled for 2025, everything is not yet decided. But to get back on track, Justin Trudeau will absolutely have to target a central issue on which to concentrate his efforts, says political scientist Jean-François Daoust.
“He needs to find an issue that is important to Canadians and on which he performs well. Currently, there are none,” he says. The professor at the School of Applied Politics at the University of Sherbrooke believes that the Liberals' performance on the cost of living, housing and the economy is “a catastrophe”.
“The environment would be one, but it’s difficult [to imagine it taking hold] in a context where the cost of living is increasing substantially,” he continues.
The Prime Minister will also have to start attacking the Conservative leader more effectively, believes political science professor at the University of Ottawa Geneviève Tellier. “This is the first time the liberals have faced real opposition in public opinion,” she observes.
The latter argues that the liberals would even benefit from taking inspiration from Mr. Poilievre's “emotional” method of communication.
“That’s where he [Pierre Poilievre] manages to score points. When he talks about young people who live in their parents' basement, it hits more than when Justin Trudeau says that [solving the housing crisis] will take several years,” illustrates Ms. Tellier.
Mr. Trudeau has often called for patience, insisting that “it takes time to build new units.”
A glimmer of calm
A small glimmer of hope still emerged at the end of the year for Justin Trudeau. An Abacus poll from December showed a loss of 5 points for the Conservatives, suggesting a plateau in their rise.
“I think this marks the starting line for 2024. The Liberals are falling behind, but they are not being completely crushed as we have seen in recent month,” notes political polling analyst Philippe J. Fournier.
An economic lull in 2024 could also work in the Liberal leader's favor. Most economists expect inflation to return to 2% by 2025. Central bank rates are also expected to start falling.
“This could be the way the stars [align] for liberals. Hope that the economic context improves, convince Canadians that it is thanks to government action and convince voters that they [the Liberals] are the best to continue to manage the economy,” concludes political scientist Jean -François Daoust.