The media have been whispering about a snap summer federal election for many months now, and the tempo of these ramblings has been increasing. In addition to the media chatter is a relentless amount of federal announcements in the last few months, investments in transit, money for Montreal, cash for steelmakers in the Sault, progress on re-opening the border – the list goes on. Polling for the federal Liberals has been very reasonable for a long period of time. The federal Tories have consistently polled in and around 30%, a number too low for a chance at a win. The amount of money the feds are spending due to COVID is historically unprecedented. Everyone is getting something. More money for student loans, more cash for seniors, Canada Child Benefit cheques to parents, all of this points to good political omens for the government.
On top of all of the news, polls, and cash, is COVID vaccination rates, which have risen sharply in the last few months. This trend is good news in and of itself, while also easing any potential criticism that a federal election would be opportunistic and dangerous in difficult times. With 155 seats in the House, the Libs only need to pick up 15 seats to win a majority government. The last Ipsos poll from late June had the government with a 10 point lead over the opposition. The Liberals are dominating in seat rich Ontario, performing strongly in Quebec, and also polling very well in BC. Given the low popularity of Alberta’s provincial Conservative government, the Liberals have improved their polling in Alberta. The opposition only have a big polling lead in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
The Liberals have leads with basically all major voting groups (millennials, seniors, middle aged parents). The trick for the Liberals is how to trigger the election without appearing too greedy. Nanos polling shows that very few Canadians want an election (only a quarter). The federal government’s stimulus measures and COVID response is crunching through the legislative process with the help of the NDP and Bloc abstentions, so there’s no argument over dysfunction. This is not the early Harper era, where an election was always around the corner and the opposition were all eager to pull the trigger. How and when the Libs make their move, no one knows, but a late summer election would give them the momentum.