Justin Trudeau is his own worst enemy, but that may not matter in this election


There is a theory, recently expounded by Reuters Ottawa correspondent David Ljunggren, that the weakness of Justin Trudeau’s political opponents might actually work against him. Trudeau won his initial majority in 2015 partly because of his own charisma, but also largely because of animus against Stephen Harper at the end of his long time in government. Without that motivating factor now, and with a consistent wide lead in the polls over the Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, the theory is that some waffling voters will see a Liberal government as inevitable, and thus vote their conscience, or their protest, or their gut, to the benefit of smaller parties, especially the NDP and Bloc Québécois. There are worse problems to have. In the last election campaign, in 2019, Liberal defeat seemed likely before the vote. Fear of a Conservative government motivates Liberal voters and scares NDP voters into propping up Liberal candidates. Even with that boost, Trudeau barely squeaked back into office with a minority. This time things look better for him, and not only because of weak opposition. Issues are aligning in a way that gives a strategic rationale to calling this election now.

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