ON the campaign trail: The week that was (September 7-10)

Every Friday, TVO.org rounds up the federal-election news that matters to Ontarians
By Daniel Kitts - Published on Sep 10, 2021
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left to right, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, and Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole take part in the federal election English-language Leaders debate, on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

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Every Friday, TVO.org will 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.

And on Monday, we’ll publish a primer breaking down what to watch for as the week unfolds.

Here’s what happened this week.

Campaign keywords

These were the most important topics on the campaign trail:

Debate: The last televised leaders’ debates of the campaign were held this week. If you missed them, you can watch the replay of the French debate here and the replay of the English debate here. Since journalists and political strategists are often wrong about how a debate will play with voters, I’ll spare you any analysis and let you decide for yourself.

Climate: At least a few political observers complained the debate failed to spend nearly enough time discussing the parties’ climate change policies. Given scientists say action on climate change is incredibly urgent to avoid major disruptions in the environment and the global economy, it’s kind of an important issue. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. This week TVO.org got some analysis of the parties’ climate proposals by David Miller, former CEO of WWF Canada and a former mayor of Toronto. And here’s a different analysis of the plans by Simon Fraser University’s Mark Jaccard. Plus here’s the University of Calgary’s Jennifer Winter with separate looks at the Liberal, Conservative, and NDP plans.

A man filming in The Agenda studio

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Racism: In what may turn out to be one of the English-language debate’s most memorable moments, moderator Shachi Kurl asked Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet: “You denied that Quebec has problems with racism yet you defend legislation such as Bills 96 and 21 which marginalize religious minorities, anglophones and allophones. Quebec is recognized as a distinct society but for those outside the province, please help them understand why your party also supports these discriminatory laws.” Blanchet responded angrily, and the next day all four of the other leaders at the debate condemned the wording of the question. "My position on this is known, [I’m] not in favour of that particular law. But it is wrong to suggest that Quebecers are racist,” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said. “I think, yes, there is lots of work to do to continue to fight systemic racism across the country and in every part of this country. But I don't think that question was acceptable or appropriate." "Quebecers are not racist and it's unfair to make that sweeping categorization," Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul both said it was wrong to single out Quebecers on racism, since systemic racism exists across the country.

Dollars: The Conservatives released the numbers behind their platform this week, detailing how they plan to pay for their promises. According to Parliamentary Budget Officer, who reviewed the platform, under the Tories the deficit will start at $168 billion and go down to $25 billion by 2025-26. In terms of child care, the Conservatives plan to replace the $30-billion Liberal plan with a tax credit that would cost $2.6 billion. The party also says it will send an additional $60 billion in health care funds to provinces over ten years, but the PBO says that says that boost in the health transfer would amount only to $3.6 billion in new spending over the next five years.

Trust: During the election, TVO.org is working in a partnership with the Institute on Governance, iPolitics, and the polling firm Advanced Symbolics Inc. looking at the theme of trust in government in a series of articles. In the first two articles in the series, Brad Graham of the Institute on Governance looks at how much faith Canadians say they have in government, and how trust in government has dipped among voters since the election was called.

Advance polls: If you’ve already made up your mind, you can vote now. Advance polls are open today until Monday. Visit Elections Canada to find out more. If you want to vote my mail, you need to request a ballot from Elections Canada by Tuesday. The election itself is on Sept. 20.

Leader sightings

Because of the shortened work week and the leaders’ debates on Wednesday and Thursday, the party leaders made fewer campaign appearances this week. But they still managed to make some stops in Ontario -- particularly around Ottawa, since the two debates were held across the river in Gatineau, Quebec:

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau attended events in Ottawa (twice), and Hamilton.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole made stops in Ottawa, Mississauga, and is scheduled to appear in Whitby later on Friday.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s made an appearance in Toronto, and Ottawa (twice).

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul appeared in Ottawa.

And Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet made a rare campaign appearance outside of Quebec, attending a press conference on freedom of expression in Ottawa on Tuesday.

More election coverage on TVO.org

Election 2021: What does Ontario want?

Ontario is a vital part of the outcome of federal elections. So, what do Ontario voters want to hear from the leaders before they make a decision on September 20? Steve Paikin gets a read from around the province with pollster Erin Kelly, CEO of Advanced Symbolics, Inc.; political columnist Susan Delacourt; Nipissing University political science professor David Tabachnik; and Emmanuelle Richez, a University of Windsor political science associate professor.

The Agenda also featured discussions this week on how voters decide which party to support during an election campaign, and the often different approach politicians must make when courting Quebec voters.   

What issues are working — and not working — for the federal parties?

Thanks to AI polling from Advanced Symbolics, we have insight into what’s resonating most with voters, Steve Paikin writes.

We need to talk about pandemic recovery. Did we need an election to do that?

Canada’s facing important questions about the post-pandemic world. It’s not clear an election will answer them, John Michael McGrath writes

Canada needs to start marshalling resources on a massive scale — now

Housing. Infrastructure. Health care. We have enormous work ahead on a variety of fronts, and we’ll need more than just money, Matt Gurney writes.

We’re still not getting simple answers to simple questions during this election campaign

Journalists are making an effort, but the leaders are sticking with pre-packaged responses, Steve Paikin writes.

Whose file is it anyway? The feds, the provinces, and who controls what

Can the federal government do that? Isn’t that a provincial thing? TVO.org columnist John Michael McGrath breaks down how responsibilities get divided up — and what happens when there’s a conflict.

‘Try the sunny way’: How Laurier and the Liberals ended 18 years of Conservative rule

In 1896, conflict over Catholic schools threatened to tear the country apart. Wilfrid Laurier promised peace — and turned to an Ontario premier for help, Jamie Bradburn writes.

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 69 seats, the Conservatives 43, the NDP eight, and the Green party one. (Mainstreet Research CEO Quito Maggi says the Ontario seat where the Greens are leading is not Toronto Centre, where leader Annamie Paul is running, but Kitchener Centre). Nationally, the simulator says the Liberals are projected to win 165 seats, the Conservatives 120, the NDP 29, the Bloc Québécois 21, and the Green party three. (A party needs 170 seats for a majority.)

Meanwhile, polling aggregator 338 Canada is projecting that, in Ontario, the Liberals would win 62.4 seats, the Conservatives 48.1 seats, the NDP 10.3, and the Green party 0.3. (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 Liberals would win 141.8 seats, the Conservatives 134.4, the NDP 33.8 seats, the Bloc Québécois 26.1, and the Green party 1.5.

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