While we’re gearing up for an election that’s still roughly a year and a half away, our friends in the Great White North have one coming up in October. This may not be very good news for the “golden boy” of Canadian politics, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He’s got barely six months to turn things around for his administration and his political party. This week a new set of polling was released showing that Trudeau’s Liberal Party has sunk six points in the polls since the SNC-Lavalin scandal broke in the news. And his lead over the Conservative Party was already tenuous to begin with. (Reuters)
Trudeau is mired in a relentless scandal over alleged interference in a corporate corruption case that has led to the resignations of two Cabinet members, his top advisor and the head of the federal civil service.
The ruling Liberals have lost 6 percentage points since the start of the year, ceding the lead to the rival Conservatives, according to a Nanos Research poll published on Tuesday.
If an election were held now, the Conservatives would win 34.9 percent of the vote, the Liberals 32.8 percent and the left-leaning New Democratic Party 16.6 percent. The poll suggests the result would be deadlock or a fragile minority government.
As I mentioned the last time we discussed this story, the Canadians really seem to be easily put off by scandals compared to the United States. This Lavalin story has been in the news constantly, has led to the end of several people’s political careers and is discussed as if it’s approaching Watergate proportions. But the details of Trudeau’s alleged malfeasance seem like small potatoes compared to so many American politicians. He asked the Justice Minister to “reconsider” the case against SNC-Lavalin so they wouldn’t wind up losing business and laying off a bunch of workers. And the company’s “crime” was bribing Libyan officials. (Which, by the way, is the only way you can do any business in Libya and the whole world knows it.)
Still, the poll numbers seem to be repeatable and reliable, so vox populi and all that, I suppose. All of these “if the election were held today” questions have to be taken with at least a grain of salt, of course. There’s no telling how people will respond when there’s an actual alternative choice in front of them or how upset they’ll be about this story when autumn rolls around.
But the numbers have to be worrying to the Liberal Party if they hold up over the summer. Currently, the best Trudeau could hope for would be a very slender coalition keeping him in power and he would be even more reliant on his partners. The same thing happened to Theresa May in Britain after she foolishly called a snap election and was left needing the DUP to hold together a ruling coalition. (And the Irish have made her pay for that honor on many issues.)
Just as a closing bit of trivia, as pointed out in the Reuters article, if Trudeau does get the boot in October he will be the first Prime Minister to be kicked out after only a single term in living memory for most Canadians. Compared to his father’s lengthy term in office, that would have to come as a severe disappointment.