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politics briefing newsletter

Hello. We begin today with an exclusive briefing note from Nik Nanos, founder and chief data scientist at Nanos Research. After this note, and throughout the rest of the campaign, the Politics Briefing newsletter will feature daily tracking polls from Nanos Research, sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CTV.

There’s been no free ride for the main contenders in this federal election. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have been on their heels clarifying and responding to questions about the SNC-Lavalin controversy and ethics. Ethics is a key pain point for Mr. Trudeau. The Nanos data suggest that only about 17 per cent of Canadians believe Mr. Trudeau would be best at leading an ethical government, trailing both Elizabeth May (23 per cent) and Andrew Scheer (20 per cent). For Mr. Scheer, the Conservative campaign has been dogged by questions about abortion and social issues and the views of some Conservative candidates.

Mr. Scheer came out swinging day one, attacking Mr. Trudeau on ethics and the Conservatives rolled into a full TV advertising campaign assault.

Watch for movement in and after weekends and holidays. That’s when Canadians break bread and chat about politics. The weekend numbers were better than usual for the Conservatives and for Mr. Scheer, showing some positive movement in their favour.

Coming out of the weekend tracking, the national scene is gripped in a tie – 34 per cent for the Conservatives and for the Liberals.

Support for the New Democrats has remained steady over the first few days of the campaign while the Greens, after hitting historic highs of support in the Nanos tracking, are showing signs of potential decline. For the Greens, their main challenge is to not get caught in the vice grip of strategic voting as some progressive voters, disappointed with Mr. Trudeau, take their Green “safe haven” and opt to swing back to the Liberals to block a potential Scheer Conservative win.

Just to add to the uncertainty is the Bloc Québécois – life has been breathed into that movement with the focus on the banning of religious symbols and the Trudeau punting of a legal challenge to a later date.

Think of the election as not one national but multiple regional elections each with their own dynamic and volatility.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

DAILY TRACKING OF PUBLIC OPINION

  • Liberals: 34 per cent
  • Conservatives: 34 per cent
  • NDP: 16 per cent
  • Green: 8 per cent
  • Bloc: 4 per cent
  • People’s Party: 2 per cent

The survey was conducted by Nanos Research and was sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CTV. 1,200 Canadians were surveyed between Sept. 13 and 15, 2019. The margin of error is 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were asked: “If a federal election were held today, could you please rank your top two current local voting preferences?” A report on the results, questions and methodology for this and all surveys can be found at https://tgam.ca/election-polls.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

ICYMI on the weekend: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer accused Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau of making too many concessions to the United States during the North American free-trade agreement talks. Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of the U.S. buyout giant Blackstone Group, says in a new book that he convinced Mr. Trudeau during the talks to make deeper concessions to come to an agreement with the Trump administration, as not doing so would make Mr. Trudeau’s “political survival” more difficult in a re-election campaign.

Friday’s bombshell news was that the RCMP had arrested and charged one of their senior intelligence officers with allegedly breaching the official secrets law. Cameron Ortis, 47, was a civilian member of the police force who came to the job with an academic background in cybersecurity in Asia. All government departments that handle sensitive national security information are now conducting internal reviews to see what sensitive information they might have shared with Mr. Ortis. RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki confirmed on Monday that the force is working to “mitigate” the risk that possibly leaked secrets would have on Canada’s international intelligence allies.

The Green Party released their platform this morning in Toronto. Elizabeth May says that, if her party were to form government after the election, she would push for dramatic cuts to Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions by shutting down all new pipelines, mining and oil and gas drilling. To make up for the impact on the economy, a Green government would provide job transition services for workers losing their jobs in the energy sector.

International Trade Minister Jim Carr says Export Development Canada has made “mistakes” when it comes to international human-rights concerns, but that he believes the crown corporation is starting to learn its lessons.

And former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Michael Chan is echoing the Chinese government’s assertion that “foreign forces” are interfering in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. “If there is no deeply hidden organization in this, or deeply hidden push from the outside, there is no way that such large-scale turmoil would happen in Hong Kong in a few months,” he said in an interview with a Chinese state-backed news site.

Jean Teillet (The Globe and Mail) on claiming Indigenous identity: “There is no question that many Canadians have a small amount of Indigenous ancestry. But that does not justify race shifting. It does not make you Mi’kmaq today. It does not make you Métis. Indigenous identity requires a connection to a historic and contemporary community because Indigenous identity is a living collective identity. You may be estranged from that collective today, but you must point to some Indigenous community that you or your ancestors were part of at some time in the not-too-distant past. If you are only referring to a long-ago ancestor and now claiming to be Métis, there must be more.”

Sean Speer (The Globe and Mail) on the people the economy is leaving behind: “Notwithstanding [the country’s] positive record, there are still 6.7 million working-age Canadians (25 to 64) without postsecondary qualifications, which is roughly the equivalent of the combined populations of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It would be unacceptable for policy-makers to neglect three whole provinces, and it ought to be unacceptable to ignore these Canadians – especially in light of evidence that the contemporary economy is paying a higher and higher education premium and creating fewer and fewer opportunities for those without advanced education.”

Shachi Kurl (Ottawa Citizen) on voter turnout: “It’s true that Trudeau is well placed to woo back progressive voters who have drifted to the Greens and the NDP. But it’s unclear whether those same voters – having seemingly abandoned the other two left-of-centre parties – will show up for the Liberals, or just stay home.”

Jocelyn Downie and Daphne Gilbert (Policy Options) on what the federal government should do after a Quebec court struck down restrictions in the medically assisted dying bill: “We would argue that the decision should not be appealed. Baudouin provided a rigorous analysis of the empirical evidence about MAiD, both in Canada and in other permissive jurisdictions. She provided a persuasive analysis of the legal arguments about the constitutionality of the federal [assisted dying] legislation. Her 770-paragraph decision is a damning indictment of the unnecessary cruelty of the ‘reasonably foreseeable’ criterion. Her decision is also consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Carter, the expert opinions of many constitutional law scholars, and the majority of the members of the Canadian Senate. To go through an appeal to the Quebec Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court of Canada is an indefensible use of human and financial resources and an unconscionable multi-year extension of the suffering of those who would qualify for MAiD but for the ‘reasonably foreseeable’ criterion.”

Steve Patterson (The Globe and Mail) on the first leaders’ debate: “There was no live audience in place, which always baffles me about Canadian leaders’ debates, because the energy that a live audience provides would make every participant more entertaining to watch, and would offer loud, immediate feedback when a given answer isn’t acceptable. Besides, whoever becomes the prime minister should be able to face large, live crowds, shouldn’t they? I mean, who else is voting in this election? Robots? Grow up.”

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