Rupa Subramanya: Liberal attempts to demonize the Conservative leader may have worked in 2019, but they’ll backfire now


In the 2019 federal election, as polls showed that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and the Conservatives under their new leader, Andrew Scheer, were neck and neck, the Liberal election strategy, mid-October or about half-way into the campaign, shifted decisively away from positive messaging on their record in office and what they would do if re-elected, to a negative campaign pitched to progressive voters, that a vote for anyone else other than the Liberals, such as the New Democratic Party, would be in effect a vote for a Conservative government. In other words, the campaign become one of fear mongering, exploiting the peculiarities of Canada’s first-past-the-post (FPTP) Westminster electoral model. Ironically, in the 2015 campaign, Trudeau had promised a referendum on a move to proportional representation, something that smaller parties such as the NDP have long favoured. Having broken that promise in 2017, Trudeau was able to use the strategic voting and wasted vote argument to try to entice progressive voters into his tent, on the assumption that even if they didn’t like him, they hated the Tories even more.

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