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politics briefing newsletter

Hello. We start today with a briefing note from Nik Nanos, chief data scientist and founder of Nanos Research, which conducts daily polling for The Globe and Mail and CTV.

Maybe some day it will be called the “Greta Effect.” Along comes the international phenom, Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish environmental activist, to Montreal and young people and the environment as an issue is galvanized. The overnight tracking through the weekend suggested a number of key observations.

First, when you compare the Liberal and Green trendlines over the last number of days they are mirror images of each other. Liberals go up, Greens go down. Greens go up, Liberals go down. This suggest that part of the swing in the electorate currently may very well be between the Liberals and the Greens.

Second, on the national front, it is shaping up to be a two-race election – the race to win between the Conservatives and the Liberals (34-33) and the race for third between the NDP and the Greens (13-13). The Greens at about 13 per cent nationally are near highs in the Nanos tracking history.

Third, on the preferred PM measure, over the past few days Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has been on a negative trajectory and tied with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. Of note, over the course of the student strike on the environment led by Ms. Thunberg, the proportion of Canadians under 30 who preferred Mr. Trudeau as Prime Minister dropped a full 10 percentage points and as of last evening, he enjoyed no advantage over Mr. Scheer among millennials. Ms. Thunberg’s comment about Mr. Trudeau – “He’s obviously not doing enough” – was not exactly the positive snippet the Liberals were likely looking for. She’s said this about many politicians but the Liberals should have seen this coming.

All this shapes up so far as an election that is focused on Mr. Trudeau. It started with the SNC-Lavalin controversy on Day 1 arising from the work of the team at The Globe and Mail. Then it shifted to the blackface controversy and more recently to the student strike and the backhanded comment by Ms. Thunberg on Mr. Trudeau and his efforts on the environment.

There’s still lots of time for the trends to firm up or to shift.

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.


  • Conservatives: 34 per cent
  • Liberals: 33 per cent
  • NDP: 13 per cent
  • Green: 13 per cent
  • Bloc Québécois: 4 per cent
  • People’s Party: 3 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. 27 and 29, 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


The Liberal Party has released its full campaign platform. In the 2015 election, the party promised a few years of deficits with targeted investments, followed by a return to balance roughly in time for this election. But once in government, the Liberals abandoned that plan and instead promised deficits indefinitely and a gently declining debt-to-GDP ratio. The 2019 platform continues that, with a bump in the deficit to $27.4-billion next year, and a slow decline after that. The platform doesn’t make a lot of new spending commitments, but it does elaborate on how new spending will be accounted for with some new tax measures, including a levy on luxury goods and taxes on foreign internet giants like Netflix and Facebook. The fiscal accounting for new spending did show one oddity: the party is booking more new money for a camping program for kids than it is for trying to stop gun violence.

Canada and the U.S. are drafting plans to reduce their reliance on China as a source of rare-earth minerals used in high-tech products. At a press conference in Toronto this morning, Mr. Trudeau said he discussed the strategy with U.S. President Donald Trump when the two met during the summer.

Tuesday is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China which will be marked by a major military parade and a celebration of the country’s achievements.

Globe and Mail writers Campbell Clark and Adam Radwanski wrote a long profile of Mr. Scheer that appeared in the weekend newspaper. One revelation that’s gotten some traction on the campaign trail: Although Mr. Scheer has often said he worked as an insurance broker before he was first elected to Parliament, there is no evidence he had the proper licensing in Saskatchewan to do that job. The Liberals have called for insurance oversight bodies to look into this. The Conservative Party says he was in the process of receiving his license, but abandoned it to go into politics.

And in Kingston, Ont., the storied small city halfway between Toronto and Ottawa, there’s a brewing debate among residents about how to honour John A. Macdonald. Although Sir John A. was Canada’s first prime minister and one of the leading figures that led to the country’s creation, he also helped to create the residential schools that instilled generations of trauma among Indigenous people in Canada, and said and did other things that would be clearly branded as racist by the standards of 2019. Tearing down statues of Macdonald is one option, as is elevating key Indigenous figures alongside him to create a broader view of Canada’s past – or, perhaps, a focus on the problems being faced today.

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the Liberal platform: “The notion that one day the budget will balance, promised by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in 2015, is gone. Without a trace. Instead, the platform follows the principle the Liberals have been using ever since their first budget hiked the deficit up: Every time the deficit goes down a bit, it is an opportunity to spend more.”

Michael Adams and Andrew Parkin (The Globe and Mail) on magical promises: “Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax comes with a promise to send out rebate cheques that will ensure most Canadians are no worse off. The Conservatives think even that is too risky. They would prefer to find ways to sell green technology to developing countries, so Canadians can actually profit from the hard work of global emissions reduction. Either or both of these might be workable policies. Yet, it is still remarkable that in an election taking place in 2019, political parties feel compelled to reassure voters that they can save the planet at no net cost to people like themselves.”

Globe and Mail editorial board on the lessons from B.C.'s carbon tax: “B.C.’s history puts the carbon tax debate in stark relief, for both critics and backers. The Conservatives say a carbon tax 'punishes’ Canadians and is an economy-killer. That isn’t true in B.C.; the economy is thriving. And when the province’s tax was created, by the right-leaning B.C. Liberal Party, it paid for cuts to personal and business tax rates. But B.C. shows that a relatively low carbon tax cannot, by itself, propel Canada to the achievement of its Paris Agreement promises. It’s a key part of the solution, but not the whole solution.”

Shachi Kurl (Ottawa Citizen) on Trudeau’s environmental record: “[The Liberals] bought a pipeline. And they imposed carbon pricing in provinces that didn’t have their own plans. But instead of being lauded for this middle way, their ‘both-and’ approach has instead allowed their opponents on the right and the left to land multiple punches.”

John Geddes (Maclean’s) on the youth vote: “There is no missing the fact that Trudeau must place high priority on reigniting some his 2015 campaign’s magic among younger voters, especially in the crucial Toronto and Vancouver ‘burbs, which was such a key factor in driving turnout way, way up back in his first race as Liberal leader. But it’s a trick the Prime Minister could be hard pressed to repeat.”

Adrienne Tanner (The Globe and Mail) on gun control: “Law-abiding handgun owners defend their right to own and use handguns responsibly. To them, I say find a new hobby. There are many people who ski when they are young and move on to something new when their knees can’t take it any more. Target shooters could take up archery, paintball or even photography. The list of hobbies that involve aiming and firing without handguns is long.”

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