Justin Trudeau will change political dynamics
Justin Trudeau is about to be crowned as the next Liberal leader. His most formidable contender, former astronaut Marc Garneau, has quit the race, endorsed Trudeau (albeit in a grudging kind of way) and acknowledged that the title of Liberal leader is his.
This may be bad news for the Conservatives. It most certainly is bad news for the NDP.
A number of opinion polls have suggested that, with Trudeau at the helm, the Liberals would outpoll the Conservatives in a federal election. While this may be true, the important thing is where the votes would be coming from. I can’t see Trudeau helping the Liberals win many more seats in B.C., and they almost certainly won’t win any in Alberta or add to seat totals in Saskatchewan or Manitoba.
They will take some Ontario seats from the Conservatives and NDP, but the Ontario situation is likely to be a reversal of what happened under Jean Chretien in that province. The Liberals won most of the seats in 1993, 1997 and 2000 because of vote splitting between the Progressive Conservatives and Reform (later the Canadian Alliance). With Trudeau at the helm, the Liberals will gain a lot of votes at the expense of the NDP but the Conservatives will likely get the most votes in a large number of Ontario ridings.
In Quebec, the NDP have the most to lose with a Trudeau candidacy. Quebec went NDP in 2011 largely because of the charisma of Jack Layton. While new leader Thomas Mulcair is from Quebec and is a solid contender, he does not have the charisma that Trudeau has, nor does he have the same level of name recognition.
While many Quebeckers disliked Pierre Trudeau, he had a strong following among anglophones (a diminishing group in Quebec) and federalist-leaning French Canadians. That could be enough for the Liberals to take a significant number of Quebec seats away from the NDP.
The Bloc is not likely to be a strong factor in the next federal election, so Quebec may be mainly a battle between the NDP and Liberals, with the Conservatives a factor in a few ridings.
In the Atlantic provinces, the three parties will likely split fairly evenly, and with just 32 seats, the four eastern provinces are rarely a deciding factor in national elections.
I remember when Pierre Trudeau won the Liberal leadership in 1968. He won almost solely on charisma, and on a desire in the country to move ahead with a new generation of leaders.
He helped the Liberals win a majority government, for the first time since 1957, and take a high-water mark of 16 seats in B.C. in the 1968 election. He campaigned at Fort Langley in June of that year — attracting a large and excited crowd.
I’m not sure his son can excite people to the degree that his father did, but he does have a healthy dose of charisma and he does represent a younger generation. His taking over the Liberal leadership will change the dynamics of federal politics significantly.