LOUIS COOPER. Trudeau fights for re-election

Canada has a national election in October and a recent poll shows the electorate is feeling worried and conflicted. Will Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party be re-elected?

Canada’s national broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – CBC – commissioned a national poll from May 31 to June 10 with 4,500 Canadians interviewed online.

The results from that small sampling, should give some pause for thought for Trudeau and his Liberals.

The survey showed high levels of anxiety caused by both personal and global factors. The cost of basics, such as food and gas [petrol] as well as the impact of climate change, are high on a list of what keeps Canadians awake at night.

The poll also noted that Canadians hold conflicting and contradictory views, One on hand they take pride in Canada’s tolerance, but worry that the country is changing too much.

And Canadians believe voting is a duty, but – for a significant minority – voting is a waste of time.

The poll also found voters were disillusioned with politics.

Canadians don’t seem to believe that the political parties, vying for their votes in October, have their best interests at heart.

As well, those who are worried about the future, report greater disillusionment about politics.

Some 88 percent polled said they feel politicians care more about staying in power than doing what’s right and 47 percent said that no party represents what they care about most.

However, politicians of all stripes, should be concerned about this element of the CBC’s poll: those aged between 25 and 65 said no party aligned with their views.

A feeling of distance between those who run the country and everyone else, also seems to be a contributing factor: 78 percent believed Canada is divided between “ordinary people” and “elites”.

There is a glimmer of hope when it comes to believing in actually voting. Unlike Australia, voting in Canadian elections, at any level, is not compulsory.

In the CBC poll, Canadians said they think exercising their democratic right is important – 95 percent said voting “is an important duty”.

Despite that conviction, one-third of those polled said their vote wouldn’t make a difference.

The headlines and social media concerns over the resignations earlier this year of two senior ministers in Trudeau’s government, when they left both their posts and the party, with the two women now sitting as Independents, seems to have vanished.

The prime minister’s long-time confidant and principal secretary, Gerry Butts, also resigned.

In the months since that flurry of departures – all related the SNC-Lavalin, a major engineering company based in Quebec – Trudeau has travelled extensively, both within Canada and overseas.

The trips have mostly been low-key on his part. And while they aren’t exactly fence-minding, they appear aimed at correcting some long-time social issues related to Canada’s indigenous people.

There are some domestic high points for the Trudeau Liberals.

The long-awaited and much discussed North American Trade Agreement renewal, finally achieved a result, despite President Trump. And while it has yet to be ratified by the three countries, the fact it was settled counts as a “win” for Trudeau.

His government is showing greater interest and more respect for Canada’s indigenous population.

In the CBC poll, 86 percent said more needs to be done in this area. On the world stage, such as the recent G20 in Japan, Justin Trudeau, remains polite and respectful. He might not garner world headlines, but

there is a sense he makes Canada look good – certainly when compared to the US under Trump – and he can talk in complete sentences in both of Canada’s official languages.

His elegant wife and their young children enhance his international image as well.

The leaders of the three other political parties in Canada’s federal parliament – the Conservatives, the New Democratic Party and the Greens  don’t appear to have their political acts together: yet!

While provincial governments have been changing parties to lead them during the past year and in one province, Prince Edward Island moved to a minority government, there are no Liberal leaders.

There was a clear-cut swing to conservatives in Ontario and Alberta.

How Justin Trudeau handles those provincial premiers and some big ticket local concerns: trans-Canada pipelines from Alberta to British Columbia and from Alberta to the United States, will help define the outcome of Canada’s October election.

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