ON the campaign trail: The week ahead (August 23-27)

Every Monday, TVO.org updates Ontarians on federal election news relevant to the province
By Daniel Kitts - Published on Aug 23, 2021
People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier found out this weekend that he will not be invited to the televised leaders’ debate. (Mario Beauregard/CP)

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Every Monday, TVO.org will publish a primer breaking down what to watch for in the federal election campaign as the week unfolds.

And every Friday, we’ll review the highlights of the past week in the campaign, focusing on issues relevant to Ontario voters as they decide whom to support at the ballot box.


Here’s what to watch for this week.

Campaign keywords

Afghanistan: The struggle to help Afghans flee their homeland after its takeover by the Taliban continues to be a campaign issue. Yesterday, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino reported that Canadian planes have evacuated more than 1,100 people out of Afghanistan this month. “The last time the Canadians had a military operation in Afghanistan was 10 years ago, our last armed forces member left seven years ago,” Mendicino said in an interview with Global News. “And so to be able to in a few short weeks … to get people on those flights as quickly as possible has been nothing short of miraculous.” Also yesterday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh suggested Canada’s response to the crisis could have been swifter without the distraction of an election call, while a new group has formed to keep Afghanistan an election issue throughout the campaign.  

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Comeback (?): The first week of the campaign was widely seen as a disappointing one for the governing Liberals, who have seen their lead shrink in recent polling averages. But unnamed party sources tried to convince the Toronto Star over the weekend that everything is just fine. “Stay tuned for the coming days, because I think there will be a lot more that (Trudeau) and the party will have on offer that will be in tune with some of the big thinking that we brought to the fore not just over the last few days but the past number of months,” said one source. “The policies and proposals and ideas, there will be some pretty clear contrasts (with other parties).”

Harm reduction: The Conservatives, often known for a “get tough” approach to improper drug use, say they have embraced harm reduction when it comes to the opioid epidemic. “We want recovery and treatment to also be at the core of a national approach that recognizes harm reduction, recognizes compassion within our criminal-justice system for people with addiction while making sure recovery and wellness is there,” leader Erin O’Toole said yesterday as promoted a promise to spend $1.3 billion dealing with opioid addiction. He also said a Conservative government would not block Health Canada approvals for safe injection sites.

Mad Max: The commission in charge of the federal leaders’ debate announced this weekend that Maxime Bernier of the People’s Party of Canada will not be allowed to take part. The commission calculated the PPC’s national polling average to be 3.27 per cent, below the 4 per cent required to be included in the televised debate. "I do not blame the commission, whose criteria were clear and objective," Bernier said in a statement. "Rather, I blame the political establishment cartel, which refuses to debate the crucial issues we raise and has done everything to marginalize us since the founding of the PPC." Not having the PPC in the debates could have wider repercussions beyond the party itself: The right-wing PPC is seen as competing for the same voters as the Conservative party, so less public exposure for the PPC could wind up helping the Tories.

Where things stand

At last check, polling aggregator 338 Canada is projecting that, if the election were held now, in Ontario the Liberals would win 69.9 seats, the Conservatives 35.5, the NDP 15.6, and the Green party zero. Nationally, the Liberals would win a minority government of 156 seats, the Conservatives would form the official opposition with 117 seats, the NDP would come in third with 36 seats, the Bloc Québécois would win 27 seats, and the Green party would win two seats. (A party needs 170 seats for a majority.)

The election simulator Too Close to Call finds the Liberals would currently win 75 seats in Ontario, the Conservatives 36, the NDP 10, and the Greens zero. Nationally, it is projecting a Liberal majority government of 174 seats; the Conservatives would end up with 108, the NDP with 31, the Bloc Québécois with 23, and the Green party with two.

More election coverage on TVO.org

This week TVO.org will be exploring the issue of affordability as it relates to the federal election. Ashley Okwuosa examines the lack of housing for immigrants — and what action the next government could take. And John Michael McGrath will look at broader issues around housing and at child care in his columns this week. You can also expect Steve Paikin to weigh in on election advertising strategy and how it could affect the campaign, and Nathaniel Basen to explain how artificial intelligence is helping determine TVO’s election coverage.

And be sure to tune into TVO at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. this Friday as The Agenda kicks off its election coverage with an update on how the parties are faring on the campaign trail.

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