OTTAWA—The slogans are ready, stump speeches crafted and buses ready to roll as the federal election campaign officially gets underway Wednesday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, joined by wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, will visit with Gov. Gen. Julie Payette at Rideau Hall at 10 a.m. to set in motion the process to dissolve Parliament and launch the election.
After his meeting with Payette, Trudeau will deliver remarks and take questions from reporters before the Liberal campaign hits the road, according to an itinerary released by the prime minister’s office.
A summer of politicking — with social media ads, television spots, speeches and a bucketful of spending announcements by cabinet ministers — has set the stage for the campaign that begins Wednesday and will stretch five-and-a-half weeks to the Oct. 21 election.
This year’s campaign would have been slightly longer but its launch — expected to happen last weekend — was delayed as tropical storm Dorian swept through Atlantic Canada.
Trudeau was in Halifax Tuesday along with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Bernadette Jordan, the minister of rural economic development, for a briefing on relief efforts.
With the cleanup of fallen trees and debris underway and power being restored, the Liberals have decided on a mid-week election call, ahead of the Sunday deadline.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is expected to launch his campaign in Trois-Rivierès before heading to the Greater Toronto Area. NDP Jagmeet Singh’s tour rolled out of Ottawa Tuesday afternoon headed to London where he’s hoping his kickoff event will spur party fortunes in Ontario. Green party Leader Elizabeth May will be in Victoria joined by area candidates.
The campaigns by the party leaders will attract the spotlight. But the election will ultimately be decided on the ground, in Canada’s 338 ridings, stretching from Courtenay-Alberni to St. John’s East, the sprawling northern ridings — Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut are each a single riding — and crowded urban electoral districts in Canada’s big cities.
It could be a bitter campaign, as was seen Monday as Liberal and Conservative loyalists traded social media barbs over the upbringing of their respective leaders. Conservatives highlighted Trudeau’s privileged past while Liberals mocked efforts to paint Scheer’s upbringing as modestly middle class. It was a taste of pointed political tactics yet to come.
But for everyday Canadians, their concerns are certain to centre on pocketbook worries. While Canada’s economy is performing well — the unemployment rate is plumbing 40-year lows — jitters remain with deep-seated concerns about affordability.
Expect this to be a theme that all parties will hit, in their stump speeches and campaign promises.
Trudeau was the rookie leader who led his Liberals — third in the party standings in the Commons — to a stunning majority victory. This time, he’s running with a record, good and bad, and will be the target of his opposition rivals.
The Conservatives, led by Scheer in his first election as leader, plan to go after the governing Liberals on ethics, their climate change strategy and the bottom line. They will attack the Liberals failure to balance the books as promised. And they will declare that the SNC-Lavalin controversy — which saw Trudeau censured by the ethics commissioner for pressuring former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould — has made the Liberals unfit to govern.
Rookie NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will be looking to shake off a malaise that had settled on his leadership and disappointing fundraising results. The New Democrats actually unveiled their election platform back in June, pledging an “historic” expansion of health care. Titled, a “New Deal for People,” it was an attempt to get their message out early and give voters time to digest the party’s commitments.
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Green party Leader Elizabeth May is the other election veteran. This is her third federal campaign as party leader (she also ran in a 2006 byelection) and she is looking to capitalize on stronger public support for the Green party.
The Liberals currently have 177 seats, the Conservatives 95, the New Democrats 39, the Bloc Québécois 10, the Green party two, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the People’s Party of Canada each have one. A majority requires winning 170 seats or more.