Canadian Election Looms, Promising Scandal and Controversy

Illustration by Chloe Geschwind/The Corsair.

Illustration by Chloe Geschwind/The Corsair.

As the election to determine Canada’s next Prime Minister - and hence the political landscape of the country itself - emerges, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embroiled in a series of controversies that threaten to undermine the Liberal parliamentary majority.

After dissolving the parliament and announcing the official first day of election season on Sept. 11, 2019, the political mudslinging began. Previously reported stories on Trudeau reemerged and became top news, not only in Canada but in the United States as well. Netflix's Patriot Act, for example, released a segment that did the Liberal Party very little in gaining back trust and popularity.

Trudeau, most recently criticized for wearing brown face, has his constituents weary of his ability to be transparent. Trudeau has already faced criticisms in regard to having ties to the oil industry. He invited a Canadian Sikh separatist on a trip to India and has gone under fire for his handling of trade negotiations with the United States.

However, the Jody Wilson-Raybould Scandal is the most damaging to the self-described 'progressive feminist.' Former Attorney General Wilson-Raybould claimed that Trudeau and his administration pressured her to cut a deal called 'the deferred prosecution agreement.' The agreements grant huge corporations immunity from prosecutions in exchange for fines and confessions.

This has led to an opening for the Conservative Party to make a move against the Liberals and - most importantly - on Trudeau, as Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer aims to take control of parliament in 2020. The Conservative Party, long considered a strong opposition party to the Liberal iron wall, is coming in with blow torches. Tory candidates are exploiting controversies attached to Trudeau and applying them to every liberal candidate. With ads ranging from mild to bordering on slanderous, most pollsters show how vulnerable the majority party in Canada is.

Although Scheer has a past record that emulates current American policy, the Conservative Party's biggest detractor in most polls is United States President Donald J. Trump.

The Conservative Party of recent has the label of being "Liberal-light" for not wanting to veer too far to the right of the political structure, as Canada is a notoriously progressive nation when it comes to policy, especially when compared to the two-party American system (Canada is traditionally more environmental and anti-corruption).

Even with these inherent problems, Scheer is gaining on Trudeau in recent polls as the Liberals have gone from a 65% approval rate to a 60% disapproval rate since 2016, according to an Angus Reid Institute poll. Scheer currently sits a mere seven points behind Trudeau, according to a Decision Canada poll released on Sept. 17, 2019.

Canada does elections in a completely different manner than America. Party leaders are chosen in parliament, and election season only lasts 41 days. The highest amount of money that can be donated to candidates is $1550. The debates are more structured and less chaotic than America’s recent 20-plus person, 30 second at a time argument festivals. Most importantly, Canada has a multi-party system, with three major parties and a few minor ones.

This leads to the tale of the fabulous fall from grace of the Canadian labor party, the New Democratic Party (NDP). Party leader Jagmeet Singh, at the age of 40, is attempting to use his left leaning ideals and youth as a major selling point to gain the NDP the prominence they had in the years prior to Trudeau being in power. The Sikh human rights attorney has policy positions further left than that of American Senator Bernie Sanders, as well as other positions just to the right of former United States Vice President Joe Biden.

Singh is a target of racial vitriol similar to what Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has faced. Singh and the NDP are currently polling at 10 percent according to the Decision Canada poll, much like Trudeau was in the opening days of his 2015 election campaign. History suggests he's still very much a factor in the election.

The NDP grew to be a force in 2011, as late NDP Leader Jack Layton ushered in what was known as the “Orange Wave.” The wave dwindled to a splash in the 2015 elections after then NDP leader Thomas Mulcair attempted to move the party to the right, turning off voters from the New Democratic Party. The move essentially handed the Liberals the House of Commons and Justin Trudeau the role of Prime Minister. The plan for Singh as leader of the NDP is to reverse the tide and bring the Orange Party back to fame, hoping that young voters are drawn to him, as they were to Trudeau four short years ago.

The rest of the Canadian landscape is filled with the smaller parties and their leaders. This includes Bloc Quebecois' Yves-Franqois Blanchet, the Green Party’s Elizabeth May, and the People’s Party’s Maxime Bernier, of which the latter two currently have a combined three seats in the House of Commons. It is worth noting that the far-right People's Party is a relatively new budding group brought forth from the split of the Tories. These candidates are perceived to have no chance of winning the bid for Prime Minister. Their primary roles are to gain interest in their parties and to attempt to gain more seats in the House of Commons. They have, however, made direct plays on Trudeau’s multiple controversies as an attempt to hurt his increasingly vulnerable parliamentary majority.

Canada's election is set to take place on Oct. 21, 2019. With the current news cycles bouncing between Canada and America’s topsy-turvy election seasons, break out the popcorn because we are guaranteed a bumpy ride.