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Prediction: Canada Election

While we are all understandably fixated on the General Assembly elections in roughly two weeks time, our neighbor to the north is having its own federal election for the House of Commons today. It could have an impact, however indirect and unseen, on our own presidential election next year.

Most opponents of Donald Trump who pay attention to Canada at all will likely be hoping for a re-election victory by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party. I am one of the rare Never-Trumpers who would prefer a Conservative triumph instead. In part, though, this is due to what I fear the message would be from a Trudeau re-election.

As I’ve discussed before, Trudeau is facing his own questions on integrity in office and on obstruction of justice. He has managed to remain competitive – and in fact, is even favored to win the most seats in the election – by trying to change the subject to ideological issues, turning the election from a referendum on him into a choice, and revving up his base. If that sounds familiar, it should. It’s exactly the same playbook Trump is hoping to use in 2020.

Of course, Canada is not the United States, but if Trudeau can manage to survive in office, it will send the message that divisive and ideological campaigning works – a message sure to encourage Trump to triple-down on his plans. By contrast, a Conservative (“Tory”) victory – even if it’s a “minority” (where they win the most seats but don’t win an absolute majority) would make it clear that voters still care at least somewhat about ethical behavior in office.

That said, this post is about a prediction, not a wish.

Sadly, Trudeau has succeeded in changing the subject with a large swath of the electorate – enough for me to think he will win, but only a minority.

My prediction: Liberals 138-142, Conservatives 126-130, Bloc Quebecois (Quebec-only regionalist party) 38-42, New Democrats (left of Liberals) 23-27, Green 2-4, Others 1-3.

When it becomes clear that Trudeau’s success comes from a large margin in Ontario (as a result of dissatisfaction with Doug Ford, the “Tory” premier of that province), the Trump campaign will be sure to interpret that as further evidence to smear Speaker Pelosi and every other Democrat not running for president who annoys him (Congresswomen Ocasio-Cortez and Omar, for example).

To be fair, odds are the Trump campaign will do that anyway, but it would be nice to see evidence that it doesn’t work. I fear we won’t see that evidence today.