Nathan Poklar ’24
It is common knowledge within Canadian politics that a minority government should last around two years before the next election. With the Liberals’ minority government and almost two years since the last election, it seems that there is a strong possibility of Canadians going back to the polls before 2022 rolls around.
If an election were to be called, the Conservatives may find themselves in a golden position to take back the government. According to a recent Angus Reid poll, 49% of Canadians believe that it is time for a change of government in Ottawa. Furthermore, a Maru poll found that 57% feel that they are “politically homeless,” feeling that there was no party that they had strong feelings for.
The Conservatives could use these two factors to their advantage, marketing themselves as a party with its own attractive and inclusive policy that is a sensible alternative to Trudeau and his Liberals.
However, they are facing two obstacles that they will need to clear if they ever hope to form a government: the general dislike of Erin O’Toole and the staunch difference in priorities between the Conservative base and the rest of Canada.
A recent poll from Angus Reid reporting on O’Toole’s favourability revealed a startling piece of information that many Canadians have known for a while: O’Toole is an unfavourable candidate. His favourability ratings—now sitting at a measly 29%—have been steadily dropping after his 36% high in November.
51% of Canadians view O’Toole in a negative light, and with damaging accusations—like accusations of being “Trump-lite”—the Conservatives will have to climb a high mountain if they hope to pitch O’Toole as more favourable than Trudeau, a leader whose approval is 45%.
The Conservatives will also need to accomplish the difficult task of appeasing their base while appealing to other, non-conservative Canadian voters if they hope to get the level of voter turnout needed to win an election.
A recently released Angus Reid poll asking respondents to select three of the “top issue[s] facing the country” highlights the wide gap between Conservative and non-conservative voters. Issues such as the deficit and government spending, natural resources, and climate change all revealed the stark differences that plague the two groups that will need to be reconciled if the Conservatives hope to win an election.
However, while it may look like the odds are against the Conservatives, if they do manage to successfully sell O’Toole as a likeable alternative to Trudeau and are able to market themselves to the rest of Canada without angering or isolating their conservative base, Canada just may see a Prime Minister O’Toole by the end of the year.
Photo Credit: The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick