L. Ian MacDonald: Trudeau vulnerable as leadership emerges as election’s defining issue

DM

With three weeks down and only 13 days until the election, it may be that the real campaign is only now beginning. The Liberals must hope so, while the Conservatives may be concerned about having peaked too soon. The Conservatives led the Liberals at the long weekend by 36-33 per cent in the daily Nanos poll, an uptick of two points for the Grits since Thursday’s French debate on TVA. Those weren’t the numbers when Justin Trudeau dropped the writ on a Sunday morning in mid-August, when the Liberals led most polls by double digits. But evidently by doing so, Trudeau was tempting fate. He certainly annoyed vacationing voters, who had been enjoying their first summer in two years free of pandemic lockdowns. Events beyond the control of the Liberal campaign — from the surging fourth wave of the pandemic, to raging wildfires in the West, to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan — made the important point that Trudeau should be running the government, not an election tour. For more than two weeks, as their poll numbers shrank with each passing day, the Liberals appeared oblivious. While Trudeau’s approval ratings tumbled, their media buy remained all about him.

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