On the first official day of the election campaign itself, all party leaders were forced to confront the issue of Quebec’s Secularism law after Quebec Premier François Legault challenged parties to come out and pledge to “never” contest Quebec’s secularism law in court.
The topic crossed Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s path shortly after he met with Governor General Julie Payette at Rideau Hall to ask for the dissolution of Parliament. The law, passed by the Quebec government in June, is commonly referred to as Bill 21.
“As I’ve said many times, I am deeply opposed to Bill 21 in Quebec,” Trudeau said, responding to a reporter asking about the contentious law. “I don’t think that in a free society we should be legitimizing or allowing discrimination against anyone.”
He told reporters that he’s “very pleased” Quebecers have challenged the law in court. Trudeau stopped short of promising to intervene in the matter, but he left the door open, saying it would be “counterproductive” for the federal government to get involved at this time.
The law prohibits individuals in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, such as turbans, hijabs, crosses and kippahs, on the job. The restriction does not apply to people hired before Bill 21 became law.
Its introduction sparked protests in Montreal this summer. Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec party campaigned in 2018 on a promise to enact a law on religious symbols in the public sector. His government stymied debate in the National Assembly and used its majority to pass Bill 21 into law.
It is going to be increasingly difficult for federal leaders to walk the tightrope in English Canada without causing ripples in Quebec. How far are all the party leaders willing to go is the question.
The 43rd Canadian federal election is turning out to be closer than anyone ever imagined. The CBC’s Canada Poll Tracker, an aggregation of all publicly available polling data, has the Liberals and Conservatives tied down to a tenth of a percentage point, with 33.8 per cent apiece.
A year ago, it seemed as though the Liberals had this election under control and could coast through with a comfortable majority while the Conservatives were expected to improve their numbers. Today the two parties are tied and poll after poll suggests that the two parties are tied too close to call.
It seems evident that the Liberals have a slim advantage over the Conservatives in how their vote breaks down across the country.
Just earlier this summer Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were trailing the Conservatives by five or six points nationwide. Only now, with the election finally being called, has the party bounced back and has since regained a lot of the support it lost over the SNC-Lavalin affair in February.
Trailing in third are the New Democrats, at only 12.9 per cent support. They are being chased by Elizabeth May and the Greens, who are running at 10.7 per cent.
The Greens have been maintaining the support they picked up earlier in the year after a series of breakthroughs in provincial elections and in a federal byelection in British Columbia in the spring.
The Bloc Québécois and People’s Party stand at 4.4 and 3.3 per cent, respectively.
Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives hold a lead of 40 points in Alberta and nearly 24 points in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Altogether, the Poll Tracker estimates that would deliver around 55 seats to the Conservatives.
The Liberals’ lead of six points in Ontario and 14 points in Quebec likely would deliver around 121 seats at this point which could be all the party needs to form a majority government.
But no pollster is willing to bet their reputation on the final outcome because polling suggests neither party is in line to win the 170 seats needed for that majority. The numbers suggest roughly 164 seats going to the Liberals and 140 going to the Conservatives.
Much will depend on the performance of the other parties. The New Democrats are neck-and-neck in the projected seat count with the Bloc — the NDP is projected to win around 14 seats and the Bloc about 15. Ontario is a big part of the Liberals’ seat advantage, with the party holding 39 per cent support in the Poll Tracker to 33 per cent for the Conservatives. The NDP trails with 14 per cent in the province, followed by the Greens at 10 per cent.
The Liberals are on track to lose seats in Atlantic Canada, while the Conservatives are ahead in Alberta and the Prairies.
British Columbia is shaping up to be the most hotly-contested province. The Conservatives hold a narrow lead with 32 per cent, followed by the Liberals at 30 per cent. The two parties are fighting over a number of seats in the Lower Mainland and the BC Interior.
The next 40 days will be crucial for Canada. -CINEWS