Photo: Chris Young The Canadian Press Midterm, prime minister must convince Canadians — and members
of the PLC that he leads — that he deserves a fourth mandate in a row at the head of the country.
Marco Bélair-Cirino and Sandrine Vieira in Ottawa
October 28, 2023
Faced with the growing popularity of the Conservative Party, Justin Trudeau calls on Canadians to engage in democratic life “with optimism”… with a certain indifference.
Tuesday evening, he warmly thanked the sixty supporters of the Liberal Party of Canada (PLC) who gathered in a hangar at the Gatineau-Ottawa executive airport to hear him.
This text is published via our Perspectives section.
“I know very well that everyone has many choices of different activities that they can undertake on a Tuesday evening in October,” he said, after stepping onto a stage occupied by four maple leaf trees.< /p>
After eight years at the head of the Canadian government, Mr. Trudeau is concerned that fewer and fewer people are saying: “I want to participate in our democracy in an active and engaged way, to be part of the conversations. »
It “is very easy to point the finger at politicians, complain about inflation, the pandemic, interest rates, labor shortages, housing,” and then “turn to anger, anxiety, fear, division”, on which his main opponent, Pierre Poilievre, is banking, he argued, microphone in hand.
A new face
The problem: the “responsible, sensible approach, anchored in shared values [by Canadians]” advocated by his government no longer convinces the population.
No less than 57% of voters want Justin Trudeau to give up his seat before the next election, which is scheduled in two years, according to a recent poll carried out by Angus Reid.
Worse, 41% of voters who supported the PLC in 2021 argue that it is time for the leader to hand over the reins of the party and the country to a new face. This is a figure that is “even more painful,” according to the creator of the survey aggregators Qc125 and 338Canada, Philippe J. Fournier.
Former liberal strategist Jeremy Ghio also decodes a significant “desire for change” in the latest national polls. “There may be Canadians who will be willing to hold their noses and vote for Pierre Poilievre to satisfy their desire for change, without necessarily [being] fans. »
The Conservative leader's team has also seen its support multiply in the country, going from 34% of voting intentions in June to 41% in mid-September, according to Abacus Data . And the popularity of the Conservative leader has been maintained since the resumption of parliamentary work.
“Everyone places the conservatives in majority territory,” confirms Philippe J. Fournier.
No putsch in sight
Justin Trudeau has made up his mind to seek a fourth consecutive mandate following the election of Pierre Poilievre as leader of the Conservative Party on September 10, 2022.
The Liberal leader fears not only that everything he has built since 2015 to “create economic growth while fighting climate change” will collapse, but also that Canadian democracy will crumble, in the event of the election of 'a Poilievre government.
But is he still best placed to lead his party to victory at the end of the next election campaign? Philippe J. Fournier, Jeremy Ghio and political scientist André Lamoureux see no clear successor to Justin Trudeau.
“It’s a bit like the Quebec Liberal Party syndrome, which has the same problem. I don't think Marc Tanguay is the future of the party. But in the case of the Liberal Party of Canada, if it’s not Justin Trudeau, who is it? » asks André Lamoureux, lecturer in the Department of Political Science at UQAM.
For Jeremy Ghio, Justin Trudeau remains “the person” that the Liberals must follow. And “there is no Quebecer better placed than Mr. Trudeau [who can] perform better than him in the rest of Canada,” he adds.
In short, the contenders for the leadership of the PLC — including ministers Chrystia Freeland, Mélanie Joly, Anita Anand, François-Philippe Champagne, Sean Fraser, Randy Boissonnault and the former governor of the Bank of Canada Mark Carney — will have to wait .
Trudeau v. change
Mid-term, the Prime Minister must convince Canadians — and members of the PLC, which he has led for 10 and a half years — that he deserves a fourth consecutive term at the head of the Canadian government: a tour de force achieved only by John A. Macdonald (1878-1891) and Wilfrid Laurier (1896-1911).
The Trudeau government is on the wrong track on almost all fronts, also show the weekly polls carried out on behalf of the Privy Council Office from January to June, obtained by Global News through the Access to Information Act.
Canadians particularly disapprove of his handling of the economy, the climate crisis and indigenous issues.
For Jeremy Ghio, the government must “stop the bleeding” — and to do so, it cannot rely exclusively on the results of its eight years in power.
Correct lest it be “scraped”
While Pierre Poilievre was touring the Atlantic provinces on Thursday, the Prime Minister announced the suspension of the carbon tax – which the Conservative Party is popular with an electorate having difficulty reaching the two ends — on fuel oil deliveries for three years.
Some saw it as an attempt to save the furniture in this region where the Conservatives now hold an eight-point lead over the Liberals, according to 338Canada .
“Giving up a little ground on issues like these just gives the Conservatives victories,” says Jeremy Ghio.
Besides, Pierre Poilievre s The Liberal “about-face”, announced just before the holding of a “gigantic [Conservative] rally on the tax in an Atlantic riding held by the Liberals”, is mocked.
During these “very difficult times”, Justin Trudeau calls on Canadians not to sink into pessimism, nor adopt speeches like “OK, everything is broken, we have to start from scratch, we have to scrap everything what we have, then the progress we have, to move in a new direction.”
And he invites them to stay with him on the “sunny path.”