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  Election 2015: The Home Stretch

It's down to the wire and the party leaders and their teams are pulling out all the stops.  What do Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau need to do to bring home the vote and pull ahead in what seems to be one of the closest election campaigns in modern Canadian history?  John Capobianco, Marit Stiles and Bernie Farber give us some insight into the frenetic activity happening inside the campaigns in this crucial last week.


 John Capobianco:

Hard to believe that this is the final stretch before the vote on the 19th. In less than a week we will finally know the outcome of the election - one of the longest elections in recent times. I will give special credit to all the leaders and their respective teams for making it through this marathon - campaigns are not easy and long campaigns are particularly gruelling for everyone, including voters!

However, we live in a wonderful democracy so campaigns of any length are good for us since they do allow us to examine the leaders and their platforms and determine if we liked what the incumbents have done and whether they deserve re-election. That said, the last week of the campaign will be all out, full on campaigning by all the leaders.

The final ads will be on display at every possible outlet imaginable to try and swing votes, hold votes or get new voters out. This will be key now more than ever given the closeness of this race. Polls are still showing a relatively close race and that means getting out the vote will be crucial since every percentage can mean a riding won or lost.


Bernie Farber:

I echo John’s “Mazal tov” to all three leaders. Not to say I wasn’t disappointed in a number of things, key being Harper’s decision to eschew real debate. Hiding from the Canadian people has never been the Canadian way. I would have hoped that Mr. Mulcair would not have fed into the debate fiasco and would have joined Justin Trudeau but alas no go.

I am also disappointed that all three leaders did not insist that Elizabeth May join them in the baby debates. That would have shown some class.

As the end is in sight there is still more even when there doesn’t appear to be more. Polls need to be ignored and messaging consistency needs to take precedence.

Watch for Mr. Harper to continue his negativity while trying to put aside all the questions around refugee issues, the Duffy Affair, and in the meantime, stoking flames of bias against Muslims — the list is endless.

Mr. Mulcair has had a much more reasonable campaign, trying to stay positive, and to his credit he did not walk away from the niqab controversy and that hurt him in Quebec.  But it may have gained him needed respect in places like Ontario.

Mr. Trudeau has the most to lose as the man who has brought his party from the cellar to the leader. He will continue to call out his messaging, especially his economic message, which Canadians seem keen on supporting. Much more from all to come.  


Marit Stiles:

Well, first, I would only say we had more debates than ever in this campaign and while I agree Elizabeth May should have been able to join, I think the greatest disappointment is with our national broadcaster failing to broadcast even a single debate. Ok not taking the bait — on to the issue at hand.

I second John and Bernie's comments about this campaign … a marathon indeed. A tough ride for everyone and I’d add to that the local riding campaigns and volunteers who have really gone above and beyond. If this were a regular campaign, we’d just be starting the fourth quarter! Hard to believe.

I also agree with Bernie that all the campaigns have to focus on message and not polls right now. There are two important forces I think at play in this final stretch. First, I think this week is when we see the results of the ground game really coming into play. The NDP has focussed on what they need to form government, holding strong in incumbent seats is always a priority but they aimed above and beyond that at 45 more seats, needing only 35 seats to defeat Harper.

The flip side of the negative impact of the "War of Mass Distraction" presented by the niqab debate was that it drove a lot volunteers and donations to the NDP. The NDP’s fundraising outstripped the other parties in the 3rd quarter, setting records. And they did that with 49,000 individual donations.

Many of the 35 new ridings the NDP needs to pick up are in areas of this country angry and directly affected by the TPP. Which brings me to the second force I think that will be at play: the trade deal may be a game changer in this election. It solidifies NDP support in areas where they hoped to take seats from Conservatives (e.g. Southwestern Ontario) and it draws attention to Trudeau's failure to stand up for Canada and against Harper when it really counts — like he did on C51 for example.


John Capobianco:

The interesting phenomena about elections, both long or short, is the much talked about 'ballot question' and what ends up driving voters to cast their ballot for a leader/party/candidate. Media, pundits and campaigns talk about the question in some way or another to try and determine if there will be a last minute surge to a particular party based on an issue or just a sense that they want this to continue as they have been.

The Liberals and the NDP have tried to define the ballot question to be anyone but Harper, but they failed to give voters the impression that Canada will be better economically or safer if one of them became PM. Sure, they talked about the economy: Mr. Trudeau wants to raise taxes, spend like crazy and carry a debt for years to come. Mr. Mulcair wants to keep the budget balanced while raising certain taxes, but not all taxes, and giving everyone a national daycare program.

Both leaders have been all over the place when it comes to national and international security so it is no wonder the PM has maintained a stronghold on this and other foreign issues. Oh right, I am still not sure where Mr. Trudeau stands on TPP.

So, after all the debates, the announcements, tours, ads and rallies — it comes down to whether the leaders' respective messages have hit their target audiences enough to hold them, swing them or enough to get those who might not have voted before out to vote. Once they determine that — it will be who has the best get out the vote activity.


Bernie Farber:

It’s been exhausting and depressing! I have watched and participated in politics now for almost 50 years, and I never remember a time as we have had in this election.

Imagine a sitting Prime Minister choosing to identify one segment of the population, Muslim Canadians, for bias, derision and anger. It has never happened in my lifetime and I pray it will never happen again.

From here on in, all parties have one job; getting out the vote. Polls are meaningless and intentions vacant if you cannot get supporters to the polling stations. All eyes and hands on deck is this week’s rallying cry amongst all three parties.

In the end given how close this race seems to be, the party with the best oiled volunteer machine, drivers, walkers, telephone callers — that will be the party that wins this one.

This is the closest election in modern Canadian history. Will the youth come out to vote? What role may the Governor-General play in the event of a slim minority? We are kind of down to the last game of the World Series, into extra innings and it's tied. I’m hoping for a new and invigorated Canada.

Marit Stiles:

Well, in this final Salon before the election, I want to also take a moment to thank everyone at Ontario News Watch and Bernie and John for a great debate. It's certainly kept me on my toes and has, I hope, been an interesting insight for readers about what the various parties' tactics have been.

On that note, I of course disagree wholeheartedly with John on pretty much all his points, with the exception of the focus on getting out the vote. Yes, Bernie, this has been a foul campaign and the Harper Conservatives have made it thus. I hope — and not because of any polls -— that voters will look to the kind of Canada they want and dream big. Vote for what your heart is telling you will be good for the next generation: stopping climate change — emissions targets are essential, Mr. Trudeau!

We need to once and for all address the number one obstacle for working families participating in the economy (particularly women) by introducing a truly national and affordable childcare program (the first significant new national social program to be introduced in generations); and electing a leader and MPs who will truly defend the rights of Canadians, as well as their jobs.

I think you know whom I mean... but to be perfectly clear and on this last round of our debate: Tom Mulcair and the NDP. Now, back to knocking on doors everyone!




Posted date : October 14, 2015 NEWSROOM
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