It was not supposed to be like this. Justin Trudeau was expected to waltz right into a second term with another record majority. Instead, a series of scandals threatens his government. Scandals over oil pipelines, corporate bailouts, sacking indigenous cabinet members, and wearing brown face have come back to bite Trudeau. His Liberal party is facing a resurgent and more populist Conservative Party that has capitalized on these scandals as well as hitting Trudeau from the right on immigration and from the left on his trade deal with Trump and universal day care.
He is also getting attacked from his left by two parties. The Greens are attacking him over the pipelines and the NDP (a social democratic party-imagine Bernie and AOC having the third largest party in the US) led by its charismatic Sikh leader Jagmeet Singh attacking him as a centrist wolf in liberal sheep’s clothing. Lastly in his home province of Quebec the Bloc Québécois is also gaining strength (hard to pin them down on the left-right spectrum, their big issue is getting Quebec to leave Canada). These attacks are resonating in the closing weeks of the campaign as the black face incident tarred Trudeau’s socially liberal reputation while he’s had to move right on head scarve bans to keep Quebec voters in the Liberal column.
Things are getting so bad for Trudeau that he called in the big guns and had Obama endorse him. I am upset by that move for two reasons. The first is that Obama has been conspicuously silent on American politics but willing to wade into Canada’s, and the second is that it gives precedence and cover to Putin for assisting Trump. American presidents, retired or actor, should stay out of foreign elections. Period.
So what will happen to Trudeau? Canada has a vibrant multiparty democracy stymied by an antiquated first past the post electoral system. Instead of allocating seats on a proportional basis as Germany and New Zealand does, today it will be running 338 simultaneous single seat elections to determine control. This could lead to awkward situations where the Conservatives win the popular vote or hold the most seats, but lose to the Liberals. The likeliest scenario is either a swing to the Conservatives in the marginal ridings (tossup districts) that nets them a minority government OR the Liberals retain a majority in a hung parliament by entering into a coalition with the NDP. Either way, Canada the last Western holdout for a center left government will swing sharply to the left or the right.