Opposition parties say they will start campaigning for the federal election this week, even as the Liberals stay mum about when the official kickoff will come.
The Liberals have until Sunday to ask the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament and call the election. The opposition isn’t waiting though. The NDP launched the party’s campaign over the weekend, and the Conservatives are set to hit the green light this week.
Although the Liberals declined to say on Monday when the election will be called, MPs have been rolling out billions of dollars’ worth of government spending announcements in recent weeks.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland was in Toronto on Monday announcing new funds for training equipment for apprentices in skilled trades. Ms. Freeland is expected to play a significant role in the campaign on matters relating to trade with the United States and foreign policy, while Finance Minister Bill Morneau will tout the government’s work on the economy, and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna will oversee the Liberal platform on climate change.
The Conservative Party plans to launch its campaign on Wednesday with a morning stop in Trois-Rivières, Que., and the Ontario riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge.
“We’ll be spending a lot of time there during the campaign and we wanted to send a message to the voters there that we’re very serious about earning their support," said Brock Harrison, director of communications for the Conservative campaign.
The NDP soft-launched its campaign on Sunday with a rally in Toronto. The party said Leader Jagmeet Singh will spend the week criss-crossing the Greater Toronto Area and southwestern Ontario in his newly revealed campaign bus.
NDP strategist Kathleen Monk said the extra time helps the people in the war room and on the bus “iron out some of the kinks and strengthen the team.” She also pointed out that it’s not new for New Democrats to hit the road before the official start, saying former leaders Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair also began tours earlier.
The Green Party has planned a rally in Victoria for Sunday, and said it hopes the election call will come that day so Leader Elizabeth May can launch her campaign in her home province. If it comes midway through the week, the party will start in Toronto, as Ms. May will be there for the first televised leaders’ debate.
Deputy national campaign manager Debra Eindiguer said Ms. May will essentially go on several “mini tours” to different regions and return each week to B.C.
With just days to go before the election is called, there is a gulf between the readiness of some of the parties, both in numbers of candidates and cash on hand.
The Conservatives were the first to have a full slate of 338. The Green Party is close, with 308 candidates. The Liberals have 297. The NDP lags with 205.
The Tories also ended their fiscal year in the best shape, with $5.1-million in net assets, ahead of the Liberals, who had $1.7-million. The Greens ended 2018 with $1.2-million in net assets, while the NDP had negative net assets of $4.5-million.
The most recent quarterly filings with Elections Canada show the Conservatives raised $16.5-million in the first half of this year, the Liberals raised $8.9-million, the NDP raised $2.6-million and the Greens raised $2.2-million.
Several factors could affect the timing of the election call. Political staff and media had thought the campaign might start this past Sunday, but that opportunity passed when Hurricane Dorian hit the Maritimes and left hundreds of thousands without power.
“From a readiness standpoint, the party is good to go," said Liberal strategist Amanda Alvaro. “From the PM’s standpoint, there’s probably a few things happening where it would have looked really unreasonable to drop the writ."
Ms. Monk said Tuesday’s Manitoba election and the anniversary on Wednesday of the 9/11 attacks in the United States make those two days unlikely.
“Anything as of Thursday is fair game, whether that happens of course is the Liberals’ call,” said Ms. Monk, who suggested Thursday’s debate, which Mr. Trudeau will not attend, won’t affect plans to call the election.
Tim Powers, Conservative strategist and vice-chairman of Summa Strategies, said an end-of-week kick off could be a problem, as some consider Friday the 13th unlucky.