Setting the scene for the federal election.
For a while during Justin Trudeau's first term as Prime Minister, reelection of his Liberal government appeared all but assured. The Liberals were riding high in the polls, they were facing opposition parties with untested and largely unknown new leaders, and Trudeau himself seemed the very model of the young, aware, progressive head of government the world needed.
Since the eruption in February of the SNC-Lavalin affair, those assumptions have collapsed. Less than six months from the October 21 election, the Liberals are trailing Andrew Scheer's Conservatives in the polls and face an uphill battle to remain in office. The Liberal decline cannot be attributed solely to the SNC-Lavalin affair, but it played a large role. This affair--whether or not to call it a "scandal" has been controversial--preoccupied the Inroads listserv in March and April. While the political implications of SNC-Lavalin were not far from their minds, contributors to the listserv (including some with extensive experience in government) primarily debated the legal response to SNC-Lavalin's undeniable sins: was Jody Wilson-Raybould right or wrong. Highlights of the discussion lead off this section.
Two years ago in Inroads, distinguished political scientist Gad Horowitz made the case that Canada's political parties differed from one another in their "deep culture"--differences that were not always reflected in their specific policy proposals. Drawing on this argument, he now criticizes the common practice of lumping the Liberals and New Democrats together as "progressive" parties, and recommends that the NDP emphasize its "positive social democratic difference" in the coming campaign.
With a Conservative government a possible, if not probable, outcome of the election, it's time to think about what policies such a government might pursue. Tom Flanagan, who served as a Conservative campaign manager and adviser to the Harper government, has some suggestions for how a new Conservative government might proceed in one important policy area, Indigenous affairs.
Finally, we asked political analysts in each of Canada's regions to set the scene in advance of the fall campaign. Richard Johnston in Vancouver, Royce Koop in Winnipeg, Paul Barber in Toronto, Eric Montigny in Quebec City and Patrick Webber in Fredericton provide not only a who's-up-who's-down assessment of party prospects but also insight into the underlying dynamics that are likely to play out in their respective regions.
An introduction by Bob Chodos