Canada Votes: Final Predictions

by on 19 October, 2015

FrontThe record long election campaign in Canada draws to a close Tuesday morning AEST time (or AEDT, or AWST, any really) and to use a quote which sums up this campaign, it would be “Events dear boy, events.”.

The biggest event to throw the campaign off the rails for any side has been the niqab ban openly flirted with by the Conservatives. It came as little surprise the Liberals would oppose such a ban on the basis of racial tolerance, however the real problem was for NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

Mulcair, with a Quebec-charged caucus, found himself almost destroyed on the ultimate wedge issue for a leftist party which held court in Canada’s most leftist economically, but rather conservative socially, province. In a province which relatively recently threw out the overtly xenophobic Parti Quebecois, it was always going to be a challenge for Mulcair to find a neat middle ground between his party’s socialist tendencies, and placating the nationslist streak in Quebec. Ultimately, Mulcair chose purity over pragmatism and, ever since, the NDP has been tanking in the polls. They have, in fact, tanked so badly, that my Quebec preview, in which I predicted the wipeout of the Bloc, is now redundant. It is so redundant that the Bloc looks set to pull five guaranteed seats, which is actually one better than they pulled last time, with another seven looking good. It has also helped Stephen Harper’s numbers in Quebec, where he not only looks good in 11 seats, but could pull up to four more.

The Trans Pacific Partnership created an opportunity for the NDP to go back to its socialist roots in the face of the hammering it has taken over the niqab, and it hasn’t disappointed. In fact, the TPP is perhaps the only issue on which there is a clear and definitive stance from all three parties, and all three are holding firm on particularly separate ground. As a good socialist party, the NDP has reflexively thrown up its fists to take on the TPP in all its forms, claiming that the deal would cost 20,000 auto jobs. The Conservatives, on the other hand, spoke about nothing but jobs… well, except the bit about bailing out dairy farmers on the receiving end of struggles when it comes to competing in the open market. And then there were the Liberals, who have hedged their bets and promised a “fulsome” discussion about the deal.

As was the slogan (unofficially) for Bill Clinton in 1992…. It’s the economy stupid. While Canada saw out the worst of the GFC and returned to relative stability, they now stand on the edge of a housing collapse thanks to over extended families (Sound familiar?). Normally this would bake the incumbent government and leave it for dead. However, a few things are working in the Conservative’s favour here instead. Firstly, Stephen Harper avoided recession. He didn’t go down a Rudd-esque path, though. He increased Government spending while the recession was in full bloom, but is now seeking to institute family payments and tax cuts in such a way as to permanently reduce the spending scope of future Canadian Governments lest they whack the rich. Enter Justin Trudeau and…… mark. But it gets worse for Justin, given his campaign promises balloon even in the face of NDP commitments. When the party that gave us Bob Rae’s Ontario looks economically responsible, you need to re-assess your economic strategy. As for poor old Tom Mulcair, he just gets left behind (pun unintended). He can’t outspend Trudeau for fear of taking the NDP back to the uber-left fringe, and he can’t promise more tax cuts for fear of losing his leftist base, so he gets stuck in the middle, left to drown in a sea of red ink and blue tax cuts.

All of this should point to a comfortable Conservative win. So how is it that Trudeau leads in the polls 24 hours out? Unlike the advent of Ford Nation, Canadians as a whole have bought the meanie line run by a media which worships at the ABC altar (Anything But Conservative) or, to be accurate to the nation we’re discussing, the CBC line (Crucify Bloody Conservatives). Story after story after story has seen Stephen Harper portrayed as a bully as PM, not listening to his caucus and running a dictatorial administration. So what? Pragmatism should win the day in electing governments, shouldn’t it? Nope. As we saw here in 2007, people grow tired and accustomed to responsible economic management and take it as given. They then look for something flashy, fun and new. Someone with some celebrity status (Even if said celebrity carries a name which shall not be mentioned in certain parts of the country). Someone younger. Someone more attractive. Someone who seems nicer. Well, the Canadian dilettante in Justin Trudeau is running rampant everywhere due to the escapades of his late father, whose government could kindly be described as traumatic.

In that last paragraph, note the absence of the Opposition Leader, Tom Mulcair. The NDP has been lost in the Liberal revival, a shell of what it hoped to be at this election. The NDP now stand no chance of winning… unless something happens to drastically change the outcome to what the polls predict. Unfortunately for Mulcair, that is his only hope of winning. Fortunately, it has happened before.




The Territories: The Yukon has remained solidly Liberal throughout the campaign despite the incumbent being Conservative Ryan Leef. Yukon will change hands.

In Nunavut. Leona Aglukkaq fell behind six weeks ago and has remained behind ever since, with the margin steadily growing It is difficult to see the polls being 11% out for a six week period, so this prediction changes from Conservative to Liberal.

In the Northwest Territories, Dennis Bevington for the NDP looked safe as houses until the last few days, at which point the polls have collapsed on him and brought the Liberals right into the race, with just 0.3% separating the NDP and Grits. I don’t think it will be enough to unstea the NDP, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Grits sweep the north.

Con: 0     Lib: 2 (+2)     NDP: 1 (+1)     Grn: 0     BQ: 0     Oth: 0


The Maritimes: PEI has only grown stronger for the Liberals, if that was possible, since my preview. All four seats are under lock and key in the land of Anne, which shouldn’t surprise given the Duffy Debacle.

Newfoundland and Labrador had only one slight chance for the Tories in Labrador, and even now the Grits are polling at 58% in a first past the post race. Newfoundland and Labrador will go entirely Liberal with the sole exception of St. John’s East, which is comfortably nestled with the NDP.

Nova Scotia has two shots in the locker for the Tories in Central Nova and Cumberland-Colchester. Cumberland is gone, solidly red, but the polls have been up and down in Central Nova. While the latest polls point to a Liberal lead, the 4.5% margin isn’t safe at any stretch. I would expect Central Nova to remain blue, and the Liberals will sweep all but two other seats, those being NDP holds in Sackville and Halifax.

Finally, some good news on the Atlantic front for Conservatives. New Brunswick polling suggests four Conservatives will be returned, with five Liberals and two NDPers. However, as I mentioned previously, Miramichi-Grand Lake is a popular pick to go Liberal, even according to the polls, but this is a seat the Liberals haven’t held in years. I just can’t see it going anywhere, especially as Trudeau’s maturity and spending promises has dominated the last days.

Con: 5 (+5)     Lib: 25 (+23)     NDP: 5(+4)     Grn: 0     BQ: 0     Oth: 0


The West: Manitoba has been mused as the Liberal dark horse in this election, but the polls are solidifying away from the Grits in this NDP-led province. Charleswood-St. James is a neck and neck race between to Tories and Liberals, but in six other seats the Tories are easily up. In Elmswood the race is tight, but that’s an NDP-Conservative race, and the NDP continues to lose traction. Only a late surge of Liberal votes to the orange wave… err, lapping… err, leak… will help the NDP get up there. Elsewhere, the Liberals will pick up five seats and the NDP one, with Niki Ashton, a former leadership candidate, in Churchill, an NDP casualty.

If you thought Manitoba delivered good news for the Conservatives, Saskatchewan will have them doing cartwheels. A province which originally looked to be going Conservative with an asterisk is now solidly blue in all except two ridings. The Liberals will walk in in Regina-Wascana, but in Saskatoon-University, the NDP lead has been whittled away consistently through the campaign, so much so that the NDP will probably miss out altogether, with Tories taking 13 seats of the 14 on offer.

In the Conservative holy land of Alberta, the Liberals are safe to win three seats, which is amazing given the history of Liberals named Trudeau in the province. The NDP will safely win their stronghold of Edmonton-Strathcona, while the rest of the province will go blue. The only seat up for discussion is Calgary Confederation. The polls have been up and down but have generally sided with the Liberals. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is a popular man in Calgary, so his presence should do enough to offset the Trudeau odour and see the Grits home for a fourth seat.

British Columbia is the province which has confounded pundits throughout the campaign. BC is a left leaning province traditionally, but has a right of centre Liberal Government at a provincial level which leans left on environmental issues (Don’t bother trying to understand it, just accept it otherwise your brain will poop its pants). However, the polls have been all over the place, and the Conservatives are the beneficiaries. Coming in with 20 seats under the old borders, new riding boundaries had me picking the Tories to claim just 15 of 42 seats. However, the Tories now look set to secure 21 seats, although six of these are very much in play to both the NDP and Liberals. Elizabeth May is secure in her riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands as the sole Greens MP. On the Greens, they are polling a respectable 27% in Victoria, but that leaves them well behind the NDP at 38%. The NDP and Liberals are going toe to toe elsewhere in the province, and the Liberals will probably secure 11 seats to the NDP’s nine, leaving the Tories in a reasonable position, although both Quebec and Ontario will be in before BC results start to filter through.

Con: 76 (+71)     Lib: 46 (+21)     NDP: 16 (+11)     Grn: 1 (+1)     BQ: 0     Oth: 0


Quebec: They will teach the niqab debate in future political science classes as How To Screw A Socialist In Quebec 101. Since coming out in favour of the right of women to wear the controversial garment, Tom Mulcair and the NDP have nosedived, much to the delight of the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois. The Orange Wave of Jack Layton has turned into the Orange Low Tide under Mulcair and the NDP are on their way back to third party status. At the same time, a valuable few seats for the Conservatives could prove crucial here in keeping Justin Trudeau at bay.

To understand just how vital the niqab debate has proven in creating the soil for a regrowth of the Bloc, and how it had gutted the New Democrats, just look at my Quebec preview. What was to be 50 NDP seats now stands at about two thirds of that, and a Bloc expected to secure one seat at best looks set for double digits.

The revival of the Trudeau name in Quebec has seen a mixed result, with the gains coming at the expense of the NDP. The Conservatives and Bloc have capitalised on a combination of women’s rights campaigns (Conservative) and a considerable pro-Franco heritage (BQ) to undermine the Mulcair campaign and to put a brake on Trudeaumania. While parties of the left will always dominate Quebec, the split in the vote will see a considerable split in seat tallies, opening up the Alexandria Bridge into Ontario to, as always, decide the fate of the nation.

As an aside, the riding in Quebec to watch tomorrow will be that of NDP and Opposition leader Mulcair, with current polling showing the Liberals ahead by 0.8%. I don’t see Mulcair losing, and it’s not unheard of for party leaders to lose their seats in Canadian elections, but if Mulcair does fall, it will be an indicator of just how disastrous the NDP fall from grace has been since the passing of Jack Layton and the ascension of Justin Trudeau.

Con: 88 (+12)     Lib: 68 (+22)     NDP: 48 (+32)     Grn: 1     BQ: 12 (+12)     Oth: 0


Ontario: And we return to the centre of the action. Justin Trudeau ran a risky strategy of being seen with Kathleen Wynne during the campaign, and that may have backfired ever so slightly. Wynne leads a toxic government in Ontario, but the sheen of Trudeau has been able to deflect what has been a political fumble. As for the Conservatives, they have kept their provincial team inactive during the campaign, mainly due to the fact that nobody knows who their new leader is, except for those who see him as captive to religious nuts, which is unfair. As for the NDP, their growing irrelevance in Ontario is reflecting the national mood.

Indeed, the great blood sport during this campaign has been seeing Toronto Mayor John Tory tag teaming with Stephen Harper to blame Wynne for the roads and transport clusternuck in Canada’s biggest city, while Wynne has played the typical provincial card of complaining about a stingy Ottawa, but given the way in which other provinces, except Alberta but particularly Quebec, have got their financial houses in order without federal funding, Wynne’s attacks have failed to really stick.

What has been interesting is the way in which Ontario unions have promised over the last fortnight to mobilise and attack what they claim to be key ridings, such as Carleton, located in the capital region and represented by Pierre Poiliviere. If you are looking for a comparable figure to Poiliviere in Australian politics, think of Tony Abbott when John Howard was PM. Poiliviere is a Conservative darling who is viewed as Lucifer’s spawn in the press.

Ontario, as a manufacturing heartland, was smashed during the GFC, but with the TPP, the results have been mixed. The NDP’s claims that 20,000 auto jobs will be lost have not been bought in Ontario, with the overall trading growth seeing votes shift to the Tories in non-industrial seats, where they see the extra non-manufacturing jobs as a god send.

However, Trudeau’s middle ground stance on the TPP, plus his opposition to the niqab ban have stood in him good stead in the suburban ridings where there is a higher muslim and/or a high Laurentian population. However, Trudeau has also usurped Harper in other migrant communities on the back of some farcical lines about division, which his media mates have swallowed whole.

End result? Trudeau gets more Ontario seats, and this election will confirm absolutely nothing except that we can probably expect another in 18 months or so. Don’t be surprised if the NDP refuses to work with Trudeau and threatens to roll the COnservatives unless they choose a new leader other than Stephen Harper. Trudeau has made clear Harper as PM is not tolerable for him and so the NDP really should control the fate of the next Parliament.

Con: 134 (+46)     Lib: 130 (+62)     NDP: 61 (+13)     Grn: 1     BQ: 12     Oth: 0

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