At the start of every week, 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.
Gravel: Protesters threw gravel at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau yesterday as he boarded his campaign bus in London. Trudeau later told reporters he was hit by the small rocks but was okay. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole sent out a message on Twitter that condemned the assault on Trudeau “in the strongest possible terms.” Trudeau’s campaign events have been frequently disrupted by aggressive protesters, many of them angry with his stance on COVID-19 public health rules and vaccine policies.
Guns: Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole struggled to provide clarity on his party’s firearms policies over the weekend. Late last week, O’Toole said that if elected prime minister he would keep the current ban on assault weapons in place, even though his party’s platform promised to get rid of it. But under questioning from reporters on Saturday, he failed to make clear whether his new promise referred to the 2020 ban on “assault-style” guns or a 1977 law that banned fully automatic weapons, saying voters could look at the Conservative platform to “fill in the blanks.” On Sunday, he said "We're maintaining the status quo that's in place right now," but also spoke of a "public, transparent" review of Canada's gun classification system, which some say leaves the door open to future changes to the ban. "Instead of coming clean with Canadians, Erin O'Toole is using coded language, weasel words to try to make his position on military-style assault weapons sound reasonable,” Justin Trudeau said on Monday during a campaign stop in Welland.
Our journalism depends on you.
You can count on TVO to cover the stories others don’t—to fill the gaps in the ever-changing media landscape. But we can’t do this without you.
Saini: Liberal candidate Raj Saini announced Saturday he was ending his campaign for re-election in Kitchener Centre due to sexual harassment allegations against him. Saini continues to deny the allegations, but says given the controversy they’ve caused, continuing to campaign “no longer serves the best interests of my family, staff members, campaign team and constituents.” Saini’s name will remain on the ballot in Kitchener Centre since the Elections Canada deadline to officially change candidates has passed.
Vaccines: Justin Trudeau said on Monday that a re-elected Liberal government would draft legislation to protect businesses who ask for proof of a COVID-19 vaccination from lawsuits. Earlier on the weekend, Erin O’Toole set a goal of vaccinating more than 90 per cent of eligible Canadians in two months, partly through paid time off and providing transportation to vaccination clinics. But he refused to say how many Conservative candidates had been vaccinated, citing privacy and personal choice. And on Sunday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said his party had a billion-dollar plan to boost vaccination rates that would include targeting the remote areas of Canada and vaccine-hesitant groups.
Workers: The Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP all touted worker-friendly promises in honour of Labour Day. Justin Trudeau spoke about his party’s promise to extend the Canada Recovery Hiring Program to March 31 of next year, saying it will "make it easier not just to hire people, but to boost wages to address the labour shortage some sectors are facing." Erin O’Toole repeated his pledge to double the existing Canada Workers Benefit to a maximum of $2,800 for individuals and $5,000 for families – something the Conservatives say amounts to a $1-an-hour raise for Canadians earning between $12,000 and $28,000 a year. And Jagmeet Singh highlighted NDP commitments to implement 10 days of paid sick leave for federally regulated workers, a $20 minimum wage for federal workers, and a national, $10-per-day child care system.
Over the long weekend, all the major party leaders attended events in Ontario: Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was in Markham, Welland, London and Brantford; Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole made an announcement in Ottawa; NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh made stops in Ottawa and Hamilton; and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul campaigned in Toronto.
Where things stand
At last check, the Mainstreet Research/iPolitics election simulator is predicting, if an election were held today, in Ontario the Liberals would win 65 seats, the Conservatives 48, the NDP 8, and the Green party zero. Nationally, the Liberals would come in first with 147 seats, the Conservatives would come in second with 130, the Bloc Québécois would come in third with 30, the NDP would win 29, and the Green party would win 2. (A party needs 170 seats to form a majority government.)
Meanwhile, polling aggregator 338 Canada is projecting that in Ontario the Liberals would win 60.8 seats, the Conservatives 49.5 seats, the NDP 10.3, and the Green party 0.4. (While it is not possible to win partial seats, 338 Canada uses decimal points in its projections in part to reflect uncertainty around exactly how many seats each party will win.) Nationally, the Conservatives would come in first with 144.6 seats, the Liberals would come in second with 132.8, the NDP would come in third with 34.4, the Bloc Québécois would win 24.4, and the Green party would win 1.6.
More election coverage on TVO
This week, TVO.org’s look at the issues shaping the federal election includes: An analysis of the major parties’ plans to address climate change from environmentalist and former Toronto mayor David Miller; a report by TVO.org’s northeastern Ontario reporter Nick Dunne on the federal government’s role in community fire evacuations, now that forest fires are likely to become more frequent due to a changing climate; an article by eastern Ontario reporter Marsha McLeod about the ongoing issue of boil-water advisories in First Nations communities and what the lifting of an advisory actually does – and doesn’t – mean; and a handy explainer on which issues are provincial, which are federal, and which overlap from columnist John Michael McGrath.
Also this week, the site will be launching a partnership with the Institute on Governance, the site iPolitics, and the polling firm Advanced Symbolics Inc. looking at the theme of trust in government. Over the course of seven articles, the series will use polling data to examine issues including Canadians’ overall level of trust in government, the challenges to maintaining trust between governments and voters going forward, and how this election has affected Canadians. The first article will be published on Thursday.
Finally, here’s how The Agenda will be covering the election this week: Tonight on TVO at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., Steve Paikin leads a discussion on what issues matter most to Ontarians in this election; Thursday’s program will feature a big-picture discussion on how voters make up their minds, plus a look at how political leaders tailor their message to Quebec voters; and Friday’s episode will include an interview with Green Party Leader Annamie Paul.
Your election distraction
As the federal campaign continues, TVO.org invites you to take part in an election of a different kind: Our roadside-attraction showdown. Vote for your favourite Ontario attraction here – and hurry, because the vote closes at 11 a.m. today. Our two finalists are Chesley’s Big Bruce and Kenora’s Husky the Muskie.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the first article in the series on trust in government was running on Wednesday. While that was the original publishing date, there was a delay and the publishing date was moved to Thursday.