- Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau kicked off his campaign on August 15, in his home riding of Papineau. Trudeau has been the MP for Papineau since 2008, and won with 51.1% of the vote in 2019.
- On August 16, Trudeau continued his tour in Quebec, making an announcement in Longueuil, Quebec. He and his team also stopped in Cobourg, ON at a restaurant, and made subsequent stops along the route.
- Trudeau stopped by Markham, joined by Chrystia Freeland, Liberal candidate for University-Rosedale, and Paul Chiang, Liberal candidate for Markham-Unionville. Trudeau’s Markham stop highlighted the Liberal plan to introduce $10 a day universal child care, on the heels of recent government announced agreements with provinces from coast to coast this summer.
- Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole spent the weekend before the election call visiting candidates in Quebec. The day after the election call (August 16), Conservative Leader O’Toole introduced the Conservative Platform, Canada’s Recovery Plan, in Ottawa. O’Toole continued his campaign virtually by hosting two town halls: one for Newfoundland and Labrador, and one for Ontario.
- On August 17, O’Toole was in Toronto to announce the Conservative plan to enact a “GST holiday” this December, promising to remove GST from retail purchases for the entire month.
- NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh officially kicked off his campaign on August 15 in Montreal. This followed last week’s release of the NDP policy vision document, Ready for Better: New Democrats’ Commitments to You. NDP Leader Singh also joined the Montreal Pride Parade on the 15th, before campaigning in the Greater Toronto Area riding of Toronto-Danforth on the 16th (the riding previously held by former NDP Leader Jack Layton).
- On August 17, NDP Leader Singh campaigned on the west coast, making a jobs announcement at Novo Textiles Co. in Coquitlam before heading to his home riding of Burnaby South.
- Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet also joined Montreal Pride celebrations after the launch of the Bloc’s campaign. During the launch, Bloc Leader Blanchet called the election “irresponsible”, noting the dangers of the pandemic. Like the other leaders, Blanchet has spent the summer on a “non-election” tour, visiting different regions across Quebec to drum up support.
- The Bloc won 32 seats in the 2019 election, and with each of the major four parties spending time in the province during the writ weekend, those seats spell opportunity for the Bloc’s opponents. With the Liberals hoping to secure a majority and opposition parties looking to gain ground, Quebec – as always – is a prize to be won this election.
By the Numbers
- According to Abacus Data’s latest poll, the Liberals now lead by 5 points (33%) over the Conservatives (28%), with the NDP rising to 22%. The Bloc Quebecois are at 31% of the vote in Quebec.
- Monday’s poll focused on whether Canadians would tune out this election. Speculators alike have questioned the timing, urgency, and impact of COVID-19 – particularly a Delta-driven fourth wave – on electoral interest.
- Monday’s findings put 2021 interest at similar levels as the 2019 election, with 70% highly interested, 21% moderately interested, and 9% with low interest. The survey also showed older Canadians being more interested in this election, as well as Liberal and Conservative voters having higher interest levels.
- For Tuesday’s poll, Abacus found that 62% of respondents ranked cost of living as a top 5 issue this election. Taxes, housing, and the cost of prescription drugs were also important to at least 1 in 4 voters.
- For Liberal voters, the top issue was climate change and environment, while cost of living took the top spot for Conservative voters. Cost of living was also most prominent among NDP voters.
Pre-Election Government Announcements
- Prior to Sunday’s election call, the federal government released a flurry of funding announcements – over 500 – since this past July. Many of these announcements focused on the tenants of the upcoming Liberal agenda.
- Green infrastructure, including the installation of Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers across the country, were predominant announcements this summer. The federal government also made massive investments into Algoma Steel and ArcelorMittal Dofasco to green steel production, a large greenhouse gas emitter.
- Funding for arts and culture continually flowed to Quebec from Minister Steven Guilbeault’s office, who was caught up in the controversy of Bill C-10 and protecting Quebec culture this spring.
- $10 a day child care agreements were struck with 8 provinces and territories this summer. Notably, deals have not been reached with either Ontario or Alberta.
- The Liberal government spent heavily on COVID-19 recovery, including aid for regional and major airports across the country.
Platforms and Policy
- The NDP were out of the gate prior to the election call by unveiling their Ready for Better commitments document during Leader Jagmeet Singh’s visit to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. The 114-page document focuses on housing, national pharmacare, declaring high-speed internet an essential service, working on net-zero emissions commitments, reconciliation, and social justice.
- To mandate or to not mandate – that remains the question. Just before calling the election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that federal public servants, employees in federally regulated transportation sectors, and passengers travelling by commercial airfare, interprovincial trains, and marine transportation with overnight accommodations would need proof of vaccination. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is in favour of this policy, pushing the federal government to have a system in place by September, while Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has proposed proof of a negative COVID-19 test instead, drawing controversy.
- During Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s platform launch, the Tories focused on economic recovery, including their plan to recover one million jobs lost since the start of the pandemic. Conservative Leader O’Toole also highlighted the party’s plan to introduce anti-corruption laws, a mental health strategy, and a plan to balance the budget in 10 years.
- Conservative Leader O’Toole was questioned on the party’s promise to axe the Liberals’ $10/day child care plan in favour of a child care tax credit. Conservative Leader O’Toole responded that a tax credit could come into immediate effect (as opposed to the Liberal plan), would target all families, and would provide up to 75% of total costs for low-income families.
- Conservative Leader O’Toole also announced the party’s plan to enact a “GST holiday” this upcoming December, where retail purchases would be GST-free for a month to “put $1.5 billion back in Canadians’ pockets”.
- Liberal Leader Trudeau pumped up COVID-19 recovery subsidies during his stop in Longueuil, Quebec. He focused on the hiring incentive introduced in Budget 2021, as well as extending support to hard-hit businesses such as the tourism, hospitality, and theatre sectors.
- Liberal Leader Trudeau continued his stump speeches by highlighting the Liberal’s efforts to enact $10 a day child care during his Markham trip with candidate Chrystia Freeland, former Minister of Finance, who heralded the Budget 2021 promise as feminist economic policy.
- In Coquitlam, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh focused on the NDP’s plan to increase domestic manufacturing capacity, noting Canada’s struggles to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. During his summer tour, NDP Leader Singh repeatedly highlighted the party’s Better Jobs. More Jobs. plan.
- The world is watching as the Taliban continues its takeover of Afghanistan, including the capital city of Kabul. Canada’s presence in Afghanistan has taken center stage this week as each of the leaders have been grilled on humanitarian response, representing the first foreign policy issue of the election beyond vaccine passports.
- Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau pledged to accept 20,000 Afghan refugees, including those who aided Canada as interpreters. As of August 17, Trudeau said that 9 planes have returned from Afghanistan including all Canadian diplomats who have fled the country. He also said that Canada has no plans to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
- Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, blamed Trudeau’s lack of leadership during his August 16 platform launch, suggesting that Trudeau’s knowledge of US withdrawal could have led to more proactive decisions. O’Toole also confirmed that a Conservative government would not recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that Trudeau should have focused on the crises in Afghanistan and Haiti instead of calling an election.
- The Conservative Party received harsh backlash online, including from their own caucus, after an attack ad depicting Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as a character from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory launched on Twitter. The ad was reportedly removed by Twitter Canada as the Conservatives used the clip without permission.
- On August 12, just days before the election was called, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced that he and his wife, Gurkiran Kaur Sidhu, were expecting their first child.
Provincial updates relevant to the campaign.
- The Government of Ontario has announced mandatory vaccinations or proof of negative COVID-19 tests for health and public education workers. Hospitals, community and home-care sites, and ambulance services must have policies in place by September 7. The province has also said that it is exploring a vaccine status disclosure policy for all school board staff.
- Weeks ago, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced that the provincial government would be implementing a vaccine passport system for September. The passports will be used to guarantee entry into high capacity, high rate of contact spaces such as gyms, bars, and restaurants. Quebec’s approach to vaccines – and the buzz of mandating vaccines this election – may have an impact on the public perception of each federal party’s approach as they attempt to court Quebec voters.
- As opposed to other provinces where Liberal Leader Trudeau was able to unveil pre-election child care promises, Alberta has still not struck a deal with the federal government on its own $10 per day child care plan. In early August, Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party government said that the then-Liberal government was negotiating in “bad faith”. Tensions continue to grow as Alberta gears up for its equalization referendum this coming fall.
- Wildfires continue to rage across British Columbia, shutting down the Coquihalla Highway and resulting in community evacuations throughout interior BC. As climate change is set to take center stage this election, the situation in BC is likely to crop up as an example of why timely action from the federal government is needed to protect the environment.
- Nova Scotia held their own general election yesterday, which may heed a warning to the incumbent Liberals. While other incumbent provincial governments – such as those in Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia – have benefitted from snap pandemic elections, Nova Scotia’s race could be a cautionary tale to the Trudeau Liberals, as Tim Houston – leader of the Progressive Conservative Party – won a surprising majority mandate.
- Liberal Leader Iain Rankin was poised to sleepwalk into another majority Liberal government after coming into his role as Premier in February. Rankin was set to campaign on similar themes as Trudeau: strong pandemic response, climate action, and support for childcare. However, early slip ups in the campaign – such as ousting candidate Robyn Ingraham for posting boudoir photos online – allowed the opposition to quickly gain ground overnight.