(Photo by Sudbury.com)

This past July’s cabinet shuffle by the Trudeau Liberals has increased speculation about Canada’s 45th general election happening sooner rather than later.  I was uncertain a few months ago but am increasingly believing that there’s a chance for a federal election next spring. Whenever the next vote may happen, I am equally optimistic that the Conservatives will win, making Pierre Poilievre the next Prime Minister of Canada.

I had the good fortune of supporting Pierre in his leadership campaign last year. I say good fortune because it’s the first successful leadership campaign I have been involved in since Stephen Harper won in 2004.  After Harper’s win, I was involved in many other leadership campaigns, both provincially and federally, but none of those candidates were successful, and none of them garnered the type of attention and interest that Mr. Poilievre did. Leadership campaigns can benefit from the changing mood and interests of the electorate and sometimes the right candidate comes along at the right time. Pierre Poilievre’s narrative, which focuses on reducing the size of government and making Canada the freest country in the world, garnered a lot of interest following two years of pandemic lockdowns. He has proven himself as an astute politician with the ability to capitalize on growing unrest across the nation. His authentic, straightforward communication style emphasizes a common-sense approach which is increasingly resonating with many Canadian voters. 

Of course, many things can still happen to influence the next election’s outcome, but here is why I believe it’s time to prepare for a Poilievre-led government:

The Liberal brand is showing major signs of fatigue…

There are rumors that Justin Trudeau aspires to achieve a fourth consecutive election victory, something no Prime Minister has done since Wilfred Laurier in 1908. This is no easy feat, especially in the digitized 21st century.  No matter how well you govern or lead, many people will eventually tire of seeing your face. Politics is no place for small egos, and those egos often get in the way of reality. Just like Stephen Harper before him, a certain number of Canadians will no longer support Mr. Trudeau simply because in their minds he has been there for too long. The recent cabinet shuffle promoted some new faces, but the core of the Liberal government remains the same, with Trudeau, Freeland, Joly, and others as the face of the federal government for years now.

Conservative priorities, particularly economic issues, are increasingly on the minds of Canadians…

Everything seems to run in cycles and the Canadian economy is no exception. After years of low interest rates, borrowing rates have soared to address the post-pandemic inflation being experienced by virtually all economic sectors. While the cost of housing is a pressing concern for many families, the rising prices of other essential goods and services creates a challenging environment for Trudeau.  The Liberals may be perceived as strong on issues like healthcare and the environment, but Conservatives, rightly or wrongly, are often viewed as better fiscal managers.  More Canadians vote blue when economic times are tough.  Poilievre holds a significant advantage here, having consistently emphasized the need for responsible fiscal management in our country, long before it became a focal point for Canadian families. If Poilievre is successful in winning the next election, following through with his promises won’t be easy but that’s a challenge he will certainly welcome if given the chance to govern the nation. From an economic perspective, it seems evident that Justin’s famous “Sunny Ways” quote may have run its course.

Pierre is a tireless campaigner and knows policy inside and out…

Some have criticized Poilievre for his lifelong political career, but in today’s world this is hardly unique. I can personally attest to Pierre’s remarkable grasp on a wide range of issues and policies, having attended many rallies and speaking events. Since his first election win almost 20 years ago, Poilievre has been a diligent student of policy and government, serving as the Minister of Democratic Reform in the Harper government and Finance Critic while in opposition. He is very quick on his feet, fluent in both official languages, rarely relies on notes when speaking, and will present a formidable opponent in the election debates. While the Liberal camp will undoubtedly have a well-crafted game plan to face off against Poilievre, he will unquestionably be the most challenging adversary Justin Trudeau has ever encountered. Prime Minister Harper was an experienced leader in 2015, but public speaking and debate weren’t his strong suits. Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole had their strengths, but for various reasons, they couldn’t overcome Trudeau’s brand. Poilievre, being younger and more agile in his responses, could gain significant traction. Although some might find his tenacity off-putting, I predict many more will be drawn to his critiques of Trudeau as life gets harder for millions of middle-class Canadians from coast-to-coast.

A final note on public opinion polling – avoid reading too much into isolated polls. However, a series of polls showing consistent trends can indicate a real shift in public sentiment. An Abacus Data poll released in late July showed that, under Poilievre’s leadership, the Conservatives have opened a 10% lead in national polling. Since that poll was released, several others show a similar if not growing lead for Poilievre.   I’m not ready to bet on a majority CPC win just yet, but it’s clear that the wind is in their sails, while the PM and his Liberal caucus struggle to keep their ship afloat.

Peter Seemann

Principal & Sr. Consultant

Peter has 20 years’ experience as a business owner and entrepreneur. He has been deeply involved in federal and provincial politics since 1993 and has earned an impressive reputation as a campaign manager and highly effective, “get things done” leader. Peter has his MBA in Executive Management from Royal Roads University, BC, graduating in 2008 with a specialization in Leadership.

The focus of Grassroots is to bring a solid, real-world, business approach to government advocacy based on “Clarity – Consistency – Collaboration” designed to help businesses and associations get tangible support for their vision, mission and message.

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