Hill & Knowlton Federal Election Recap

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Week 2 – posted August 30, 2021

Week two of the election saw the Conservatives’ polling numbers continue to rise while the Liberals remain stuck at the 30 per cent mark. The Conservatives continued their pursuit for moderate voters as O’Toole dedicated his week to announcing pro-worker policies.


The situation in Afghanistan continued to play a role, with Trudeau spending much of Tuesday in an emergency meeting of G7 leaders and the news of the terror attacks at Kabul airport on Thursday. Coupled with the news that Canada has ended their evacuation mission, the situation in Afghanistan was the focus of media questions at most of Trudeau’s announcements this week.


The presence of anti-vaccination protesters has also caused problems for the Trudeau campaign as an event in Bolton, Ontario was cancelled Friday night due to security concerns and a Sunday environment announcement in Cambridge, Ontario saw protesters drown out Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland as she spoke. Protesters became aggressive with the media bus, banging on it as it went by while police tried to manage the situation.


What the Leaders are Talking About

Trudeau pursued a more aggressive strategy in week two, attacking O’Toole and making more policy announcements focused on middle-class voters. He alleged that Conservatives would offer two-tier healthcare the centerpiece of his criticism throughout the week, attempting to convince Canadians that their shift to moderation is not genuine.


At several announcements this week, Trudeau discussed the Liberal plan for home ownership, support for seniors, increased funding for nurses and to reduce wait times, and a tax increase for financial institutions with profits over $1 billion. He promised to end blind bidding in home sales and offered to pay the cost of any province who implemented a vaccine passport. In his first major climate action announcement of the campaign, Trudeau promised to end plastic pollution in Canada by 2030 and to increase recycling standards in Canada.


O’Toole has continued to shift the Conservatives towards the political center in several policy areas. He promised to expand EI Sickness Benefits for people suffering from serious illness to 52 weeks from 26. He would also mandate federally regulated corporations to have worker representation on the Board of Directors. Stealing a page from the NDP, O’Toole committed to ensuring that private pensions are protected when corporate restructuring occurs, as well as a savings account for gig-workers that would help fill the gap as they are not eligible for EI. O’Toole also announced on Saturday that he plans to more than double the disability support benefits for Canadian workers, from $713 to $1,500.


Over the course of the week, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh made several jabs at Trudeau’s record of failing to implement progressive promises from the last two elections. This was coupled with Singh speaking on his own plan to implement a universal, national pharmacare plan and to end for-profit long-term care homes in Canada. Singh also announced his intentions to implement a Telecom Consumers’ Bill of Rights if elected and to abolish data caps on cell phone plans. In a number of key ridings this week, Singh also took the time to go door-knocking with a number of NDP candidates.


With regards to the Bloc and the Green Party, Blanchet spent much of his week travelling up the St. Lawrence River from Montreal, making speeches on issues such as climate change, the energy sector and the labour shortage in Quebec. Paul on the other hand, stayed the week in her riding of Toronto Centre, holding a number of events with Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.


Where the Leaders Have Been

Justin Trudeau Halifax, NS | St. John’s, NL | Hamilton, ON | Surrey, BC | Quebec City, QC | Trois-Rivières, QC | Mississauga, ON | Bolton, ON | Cambridge, ON
Erin O’Toole Ottawa, ON | Brant, ON | Hamilton, ON | Corner Brook, NL | Sydney, NS | Fredericton, NB | Charlottetown, PEI | Saint-Hyacinthe, QC | Trois-Rivières, QC
Jagmeet Singh Montreal, QC | Mississauga, ON | Hamilton, ON | Essex, ON | Windsor, ON | Winnipeg, MB | Kenora, ON | Thunder Bay, ON | Sudbury, ON | Yamachiche, QC
Yves-François Blanchet Trois-Rivières, QC | Montreal, QC | Quebec City, QC | Saguenay, QC | Isle-aux-Coudres, QC | Charlevois, QC
Annamie Paul Toronto, ON


What the Polls are Saying

H+K is monitoring publicly available polling data from a variety of providers (e.g., iPolitics, Abacus, 338Canada). In the table below we have provided ranges of vote intention data based on several polls as well as the average percent change in vote intention based on ranges in polling data examined. Data on seat projections is also provided.


Party Vote Intention (Range) Week Over Week Change Seat Projection (Estimated Average) Week Over Week Change
Liberal 29% – 33% -3.0% 141 – 151 -12
Conservative 32.5% – 37% +3.5% 122 – 133 +18
NDP 19% – 21% -1.0% 36 – 38 +1
Bloc Québécois 5% – 6.5% -0.5% 25 – 26 -1
Green 3% – 4.5% -1.5% 1 – 2 /


*A Party needs at least 170 seats to win a majority government


 What to Expect this Week | Quebec and Environment Take Prominence

As the campaign approaches the first debate in Montreal on September 2, it is expected that all campaigns will turn towards Quebec and begin making campaign commitments unique to the province.

Last week, Quebec Premier Francois Legault laid out 11 priorities where he hopes the federal government will give the provincial leader more autonomy and support. Immigration, language and a single income tax form were some of the key requests. Party leaders did interviews on Radio Canada on Sunday with a panel of seasoned reporters, digging into thorny issues and giving themselves a chance to make the case for the support of Quebec voters.

As well, sources tell H+K that several campaigns will make the environment a key part of next week’s messaging. Due to the popularity of strong environmental policies in Quebec, focusing on those commitments on the eve of a French debate will help the parties appeal to voters and contrast with their rivals.