OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicks off his bid for re-election today, heading to Rideau Hall this morning to ask Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to dissolve Parliament.
With that starts a 40-day campaign that will see Trudeau make the pitch to Canadians that he should be given a second term, while his opponents focus not just on why he shouldn’t, but why they should have a chance at governing instead.
Later in the day, he will be in Vancouver for a campaign rally with former TV news anchor Tamara Taggart, who is running for the Liberals in the riding of Vancouver Kingsway.
Polls suggest the Liberals and Conservatives are running neck-and-neck, while the NDP and Greens are fighting for third.
Rounding out the slate are the nascent People’s Party of Canada lead by Maxime Bernier, and, in Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois.
All have been campaigning unofficially for weeks, making early policy promises while also trying to hit their rivals where it hurts, whether the broken promises of the Liberals or controversial positions held by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
Scheer is to launch his election effort at a morning event in Quebec. Then he’ll go to an evening rally in Toronto, where the focus will be on the Tories’ main campaign slogan of being a party that will help Canadians get ahead.
But at the same time, expect the Conservatives to unleash the first of what will be many attacks on the Liberal candidates running with Trudeau. The Conservative war room has spent months scouring the backgrounds of Liberal MPs and candidates to find compromising materials.
The Liberals have opposition research of their own and have already highlighted Scheer’s socially conservative beliefs using snippets of old interviews and speeches. They’ve said he’ll proceed with cuts to spending similar to those made by Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford in Ontario.
Ford is among the wild cards in this election campaign; with Ontario a key battleground, federal Conservatives are running up against voters in that province frustrated with Ford and ready to take those feelings out at the federal level.
Bernier, however, has no qualms about making the Ford connection: he’ll launch his campaign Wednesday alongside one of his star candidates, Renata Ford, wife of the late mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, Doug’s brother.
Ontario is also expected to host NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is campaigning hard in that province to hold onto what support the party still has there. The Greens are in their own comfort zone of British Columbia, where Elizabeth May will launch her campaign in Victoria.
At the dissolution of Parliament, the Liberals hold 177 seats, the Conservatives 95, the NDP 39, the Bloc 10 and the Greens 2. There are eight independents — including former Liberal cabinet ministers Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould. The People’s Party of Canada has one seat and former New Democrat Erin Weir sits as a member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. Five seats are vacant.
Under the law, the election must be Oct. 21.