OTTAWA—Canada’s 43rd election is officially underway.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a mid-morning visit with Governor General Julie Payette at Rideau Hall Wednesday to ask her dissolve Parliament and kick off the campaign for the Oct. 21 vote.
Trudeau emerges from his meeting just over 40 minutes later. Speaking to reporters, he began by remembering the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks 18 years ago.
And then the Liberal leader made his pitch for a second term, saying his government has put more money in the pockets of middle-class Canadians, strengthened the Canada Pension Plan, and renegotiated a trade deal with a “protectionist” United States.
The choice is to “keeping moving forward” or return to the politics of the “Harper years,” he said, referring to former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.
“At the end of the day, politics is about people …. whoever you are, you deserve a real plan for the future,” Trudeau said.
“I’m for moving forward for everyone,” he said.
Over the next 40 days, Trudeau will be making the case for another term while rival Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will argue that the Liberals don’t deserve a second chance.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is hoping to find a political success on the campaign trail that has so far eluded his time as leader. His election platform, titled a “New Deal for People” pitches the New Democrats as an overdue alternative to the Conservatives or the Liberals.
And Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is looking to capitalize on burgeoning popular support and perhaps steal a few seats from the other three parties.
All the political leaders will move quickly Wednesday to frame their campaign messages — the promise of their own parties contrasted against the positions of their rivals.
The first face-to-face election showdown will come quickly, at least for several of the leaders. Scheer, Singh and May will take part in the Maclean’s/Citytv debate Thursday night but Trudeau is taking a pass.
This campaign, stretching over five-and-a-half weeks, is about half the length of the marathon 78-day contest in 2015 that saw the third-place Liberals beat the New Democrats and Conservatives to form a majority government.
As the election gets underway, polls suggest that it is a tight contest between the Conservatives and Liberals.
Get The Lead newsletter
Start getting your whip-smart guide to Canada’s 2019 federal election in your inbox.
How Canadians vote, of course, will be key. But important too is turn out and the number of Canadians who elect not to vote. Does this election continue to reverse the long decline in voter turn-out or does apathy set in and the numbers slump once more?
More than 17.7 million Canadians cast a ballot in the 2015 federal election for a turn out of 68.3 per cent. That was up from 61.1 per cent in 2011. There has been a decades-long decline in the number of Canadians who vote in federal elections. Turn-out peaked at 79.4 per cent in 1958 and steadily dropped over the ensuing elections to a low of 58.8 per cent in 2008.