Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday October 9, 2019
Can Jagmeet Singh build on debate-night momentum? It’ll be difficult, experts say
Experts say Jagmeet Singh, of all the federal party leaders, came out on top after Monday’s official English-language debate, but they caution it’ll be difficult for the NDP leader to turn that momentum into votes.
Doing so would involve breaking a campaign narrative established over the last month that paints the 2019 federal election race as a neck-and-neck battle between the Liberals and the Conservatives, according to McGill professor Daniel Béland.
“The challenge is that it’s widely perceived — and it’s true — that it’s a race between two parties, and it’s also a debate about who should not be the next prime minister,” said Béland.
Monday night’s event was the first and only English debate featuring all six federal party leaders in the 2019 election campaign.
Singh went into the evening “relatively unknown” to many of the Canadians watching and he made “an excellent first impression,” according to Anne McGrath, a longtime senior NDP staffer and now public affairs associate at Hill+Knowlton.
In what turned out to be a chaotic and time-crunched debate, experts agree Singh stood out during those two hours for his positive messaging and a few choice zingers.
Throughout the debate, Ipsos measured Twitter sentiment and volume regarding the party leaders, parties and issues exclusively for Global News.
According to the measurements of attitudes towards the leaders, Singh started strong and was the only leader to finish the night with a “net positive rating,” the results showed.
The question now is whether and how Singh can make that strong performance benefit his party — which has remained a distant third in the polls so far — in the lead up to Election Day.
A debate performance can end up meaning nothing or everything to an election campaign, according to Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“What typically happens is what we see on the debate and then what everybody says happened afterwards. And it’s the ‘what-everybody-says-afterwards’ that tends to have a bigger impact,” Bricker said. “We’ll know later in the week when we start seeing polling results coming out whether or not he’s actually moving ballots.”
Nelson Wiseman, professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said he thinks that it’s “unlikely” Singh’s performance will move the needle significantly but he likely accomplished “cementing” support among New Democrats who may have been “wavering.”
While Singh is far behind the Liberals and Conservatives, Béland noted the NDP has pushed ahead of the Green Party in the polls in some provinces, which wasn’t the case just a month ago. Re-establishing a solid third-place standing is “an important thing” for the party, Béland argued.
“The NDP should emphasize the fact that if there’s a minority government, the NDP might have the balance of power and that’s something really important,” he said. (Global News)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 18, 2019
May and Singh are competing hard to finish third in this election
So far in the federal election race, Elizabeth May’s Greens and Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats remain in a virtual draw. Both leaders have, in effect, admitted that their parties have no chance at forming government. Rather, they are vying for third place in the hope of holding the balance of power should the Oct. 21 vote result in a hung Parliament.
This explains much of their behaviour. In Thursday’s leaders’ debate, for instance, they spent little time attacking Justin Trudeau, the absent Liberal prime minister. Rather they focused their ire on Conservative leader Andrew Scheer — and, to a lesser extent, on one another.
May accused Scheer of being a Donald Trump puppet, noting in particular his promise to follow the president’s lead by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
She didn’t mention that this idea had been floated 40 years ago by former Tory prime minister Joe Clark, a politician May lauded in 2015 as “wonderful.”
Singh accused Scheer of being opposed to gay marriage — citing remarks the Conservative leader made almost 15 years ago.
The reason for this combined NDP-Green animosity toward Scheer is practical. Both May and Singh are pitching to left-liberal voters who fear a Conservative victory.
To appeal to these voters, both May and Singh promote universal pharmacare. Both also insist that much, much more must be done to combat climate change.
May operates under a somewhat different calculus. A former Progressive Conservative staffer in the Brian Mulroney government, she hopes to attract disaffected Tory voters as well as those from the liberal-left.
To that end, she is promising — like Scheer — to balance Ottawa’s books in five years. She supports the idea of replacing most social programs with a guaranteed, or basic, annual income — a notion with fans on both the left and the right.
And on Thursday, she took Singh to task for promising universal, public denticare — a program she said was just too expensive. (Hamilton Spectator)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday September 17, 2019
‘We like to fall in love’: Which federal party will win over the fickle Quebec voter?
As the federal election campaign began last week, Canada’s main political parties couldn’t escape Quebec’s internal politics and a renewed nationalism championed by the provincial government.
The Coalition Avenir Quebec government continues to enjoy broad support among Quebec’s francophone majority, as do the government’s recent moves to cut immigration and limit the rights of religious minorities in the name of protecting Quebecers’ language, culture and identity.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet are targeting these nationalist voters, and both promise their members would defend the Coalition party’s policies in Ottawa.
And yet it’s the Liberal party, led by the unabashedly pro-immigration, pro-multiculturalism Justin Trudeau, that sits atop the polls in the province — by a large margin. However, analysts say that Liberal support is fragile, because Quebec voters are notoriously fickle when it comes to federal politics.
Trudeau’s been here before.
In the 2015 election, both he and then-NDP leader Tom Mulcair came out against former Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s election promise to ban the face-covering Islamic niqab during citizenship ceremonies. Francophone Quebecers largely supported Harper’s position.
The fight for Quebec’s coveted 78 seats will turn on whether Trudeau’s personal popularity can stop voters from switching to the two parties trying hardest to tap into the nationalist sentiment that propelled the Coalition to power, pollster Jean-Marc Leger said.
The Bloc and the Tories have repeatedly stated over the past week they wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize Quebec’s secularism law, known as Bill 21. The law prohibits some public sector workers, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols at work.
They took turns hammering Trudeau for not pledging to do the same. The Liberal leader was dogged by questions about whether his party, if re-elected, would participate in a judicial challenge to the law.
Trudeau said his government might intervene, but at the moment such a move would be “counter-productive.” But it was the other part of his answer that reflected his party’s bet that Quebec voters know him, like him and will overlook his stance against the secularism legislation.
On Sunday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in Sherbrooke, Que., promising new powers and funding for Quebec — and dangling the possibility of constitutional reform — in a bid to revive the so-called orange wave of 2011. But with a Leger poll putting the party at six per cent in Quebec on the eve of the election, he has a steep climb ahead of him. (CP/Yahoo News)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday September 10, 2019
Do the Greens have what it takes to pass the NDP?
“The NDP,” Stockwell Day told CBC’s Power Panel last week, “is toast.”
The statement was somewhat surprising coming from the former Conservative cabinet minister, who had been defending NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s political potential for months. Not that surprising, though, given the number of people writing off the New Democrats these days.
Even Charlie Angus admitted a few days ago he’s been reading his party’s obituary for a long time. Angus insisted that obit isn’t ready to be printed, but his counter-argument was all about the kind of power New Democrats could enjoy in a minority government — one led by another party.
Singh himself all but acknowledged recently how low the party is setting its sights in 2019 when he ripped into Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer over his 2005 comments on same-sex marriage. He said the NDP would not support a Conservative minority. But why would he even talk about a minority government at this point? Singh is supposed to be running to form a government of his own — not to prop one up (or knock one down).
I don’t like to write any party off. I remember how many people (in the media and outside of it) used to say it would be a cold day in hell before Justin Trudeau ever became prime minister. (Prior to the last election, you’ll remember, the Liberals were polling a distant third.)
The campaign changed things. That’s what campaigns do. I think just about anything could happen in the coming campaign as well.
But it’s pretty bleak out there for the Dippers right now: not a lot of cash in the coffers, polling below the Greens in Quebec (the single most important province for the party) and nowhere near a full slate of candidates in the days before the real campaign begins.
The natural heir to whatever ground the New Democrats have lost would appear to be the Green Party. But that isn’t a given.
First came an announcement that 14 New Democrats in New Brunswick, all provincial save for one member of the federal executive, were defecting to the Green Party because they didn’t like their chances as NDP candidates.
Then, one of the defectors told The Canadian Press and CBC Radio’s As It Happens he’s talked to people in the province who are uncomfortable with Singh’s religion.
A day went by and the NDP started calling around newsrooms, saying not all the people on the defectors’ list are actually leaving for the Greens. A handful came out publicly to say they’re sticking with the NDP. Singh said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May “has a lot to answer for.”
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May released a statement. “I won’t attack (Singh),” she says — after attacking him at length, accusing him of blowing off New Brunswick and reminding him that “being a federal party leader is hard work.” All of which should tell you that Trudeau and Scheer are quite right when they predict the coming campaign will be “nasty.”
The defectors story is complicated and weird. Does it point to organizational problems for the Greens and the NDP? Probably.
If the Greens orchestrated this regional coup, they need to work on their coup-making skills. Some of the people on the initial list of defectors reportedly thought they were simply talking about a merger with the Greens. Others said they didn’t even know they’d been added to the list. (One Green candidate in the Maritimes gulped when I called to ask about this week’s events, calling them “embarrassing.”) (CBC)