No Rest for the Weary: What each party leader needs this summer

3 minute read

They say there’s no rest for the weary, and if we were Prime Minister Trudeau, Pierre Poilievre, Jagmeet Singh, or Yves-François Blanchet, we’d be pretty tired once Parliament adjourns for the summer. While summer might be a time to relax for most, each party leader has their work cut out for them to recover and reset ahead of Parliament’s return in the fall.

Prime Minister Trudeau

           No one has taken more hits than PMJT this year: from another vacation scandal to allegations of impropriety at the Trudeau Foundation, to investigations into foreign election interference (and a whole other subset of issues around the appointment of the Special Rapporteur)—it’s been a rough few months. With new polling showing the Conservative lead growing among voters, what does PMJT need this summer to hang on just a bit longer?

Ministerial shakeup and prorogation

           It’s been a while since the last Cabinet shakeup, and nothing breathes new life into a tired front bench like new faces. The PM would be wise to consider a bigger Cabinet shuffle to bring in new perspectives and hit reset on some of the issues plaguing his ministry. Prorogation is another option to combine with a good Cabinet shuffle, to restart with a new Throne Speech and fresh priorities. A new legislative agenda and a new front bench might be just what the doctor orders.

A long walk in the snow?

           As his father did before him, the Prime Minister might want to spend some time seriously considering his political future. He hasn’t given any indication of looking to step down (in fact, he has insisted on the opposite). But, there comes a time in every political leader’s tenure when one must consider whether their presence on the campaign trail is helping or hindering their candidates. For now, and in the absence of an obvious successor, it seems the Prime Minister will roll the dice in another election, though some may think his leadership is approaching its expiration date.   

Pierre Poilievre

           While the role of the Official Opposition is to hold the government accountable, they must also present themselves as a valid government-in-waiting to Canadians. If Mr. Poilievre really wants to show that he is ready, he should consider the following:

Easing off on personal attacks

           Holding the government’s feet to the fire is key, and no one does that quite like Pierre Poilievre. However, there is a difference between criticizing policy, and personal smears. His commentary might play well with the base, but it doesn’t seem to appeal to swing voters who say they want new leadership; a new Abacus poll makes clear voters want a change, but aren’t sold on their alternatives. Poilievre may benefit from heeding the words of his predecessor, and bring some decorum back to Parliament.

GTA Tour

           The Conservatives have consistently failed to make inroads in the GTA in the last few general elections. Without picking up some momentum and a few seats in vote-rich areas like Toronto, Vancouver, and even Montreal, it will be extremely difficult for the CPC to get the seats they need to form government. Spending time in the GTA with potential swing voters this summer would be smart, if there is to be a general election in the next 18 or so months.

Jagmeet Singh

           The NDP have lost seats in the last general elections, leaving them as the 4th party in the House. Mr. Singh’s personal popularity continues to be high, but that has not yet translated into seats in the House.

Broader support

           Traditionally, the NDP and Mr. Singh personally have garnered support from younger voters, who see their more progressive values represented in NDP platform promises like universal pharmacare, dental care, and affordable housing. However, this group of voters is historically difficult to turn out on Election Day. It is crucially important to engage younger voters in the process, but the NDP needs to come up with a strategy to appeal to other demographics of voters who are more likely to come out and actually vote.         

This might seem like a tall order for summer months that are typically filled with community barbecues, ribbon cuttings, and constituency work. But with another tough parliamentary session coming in only a few short months, party leaders would be smart to take the time to think long and hard about how they can best position themselves to start fresh in the fall session.

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