Evening Brief: Leaders fixate on vote-splitting in home stretch

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Good evening to you.

We’re heading into the final weekend of the campaign before Monday’s federal election, and, as it stands now, the polls suggest we’re looking at a Liberal win, when all is said and done.

“Right now, assuming this current scenario (holds) for the next two days, and there’s no significant movement, we’re looking at a Liberal win, period. Full stop,” pollster Nik Nanos said today. “Then the question is: ‘How big a win will it be?’ ”

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau makes a campaign stop in Kitchener, Ont., on Sept. 17. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

A majority isn’t out of the question, he said.

Elsewhere, polling done for Maclean’s is pointing to a narrow Liberal victory, and Mainstreet Research is also showing a close Liberal win, so who knows?

Well, we’ll all know eventually.

But we digress…

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau faced questions from reporters in Windsor, Ont., today about a report in the Toronto Star that one of his candidates had been charged with sexual assault, even though the charge was dropped. Trudeau said the party has asked Kevin Vuong to pause his campaign in the Toronto riding of Spadina—Fort York, after it learned of sex-assault allegations against him from the Star.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole gives the thumbs-up to supporters as he leaves a campaign stop in Brantford, Ont., on Sept. 17. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Another thing about Windsor: The Liberals are in danger of losing Windsor—Tecumsuh, which, for almost two decades before 2019, was an NDP seat. Here’s Janet Silver’s look at the riding.

Now that Alberta has reversed its approach to COVID, observers say “the Kenney effect” could cause support for the federal Conservatives to “bleed both to the left and right.” There’s probably not much to be done about it now, which could be why Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole was insisting today that a vote for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) is like a vote for the Liberals.

There’s reason for him to be concerned, as polls show the PPC is threatening his party’s electoral prospects. O’Toole’s efforts to steer his party to the centre of the political spectrum could cause candidates in key southern Ontario ridings to lose to Liberal opponents, as disenfranchised right-wing voters turn to the People’s party, recent polls suggest.

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier gestures to a supporter after speaking at a rally in Toronto on Thursday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

After attracting a mere 1.6 per cent of the national vote in its first election in 2019, the PPC now has 9.2 per cent support in Ontario and 8.8 per cent nationally, according to Mainstreet Research. PPC candidates with more than 10 per cent of the vote in some Ontario ridings mean trouble for the Conservatives, says Mainstreet Research CEO Quito Maggi. The Tories have been in a dead heat with the Liberals throughout much of the election, but are now trailing the Liberals, as People’s party support rises, polls show.

“If PPC support is as high as we’re currently measuring in Ontario, and it’s consistently distributed, that could be a lot more seats impacted for the Conservatives,” Maggi told iPolitics. “I strongly suspect that (PPC supporters) will be highly motivated voters on Sept. 20, and it could spell the end of Erin O’Toole.” Rachel Emmanuel reports.

In Ontario, Torstar looked at the social-media accounts of all PPC candidates and found that at least 20 per cent of them have attended the rowdy campaign protests that have been rife with conspiracy theories and vaccine misinformation. When asked about that, a party spokesman said: “Get lost, f—ing idiot.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh longboards on the tarmac in Halifax on Sept. 17. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Still with warnings of vote-splitting, while Trudeau said a vote for the NDP would amount to a vote for the Conservatives, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh urged people not to fall for that. His message in London today was that Trudeau is “a failed leader” who’s “bad for Canada.” As CBC reports, his rally cry to progressives to unite was his most pointed attack of the Liberal leader to date.

Later in the day, Singh defended his climate plan in Quebec, flew to Halifax, hopped off his plane and onto a longboard on the tarmac, before heading off to campaign events in several ridings in the province.

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul attends a news conference in Toronto on July 19. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Jeff Labine has this look at where the other leaders were and what they were saying today.

If you’re wondering which party has the best electric-vehicle policy, Aidan Chamandy has the answer.

If young voters come out in force on Monday, the federal election will likely swing in the Liberals’ favour — but young Canadians probably won’t change their ways this time around, says Conrad Winn, a political science professor at Ottawa’s Carleton University. Rachel Emmanuel explains why.

The endorsements keep coming from south of the border. Today, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders threw his support behind Singh and the NDP, while former secretary of state Hillary Clinton endorsed Trudeau, as former president Barack Obama had done the day before.

The Governance Monitor: Immigration and systemic racism

The Rebel to Rabble Review: Fighting vaccine passports

Net Zero: UN chief says Cop26 climate meeting could be a failure

The Sprout: China applies to join Asia-Pacific free-trade pact

In Other Headlines:

Case against former top general Jonathan Vance adjourned until October (CBC)
Frustrated with the process, some electors give up hope of voting by mail (CBC)
Manitoba to send pharmaceuticals to help Alberta, premier says (Global)
Child under age of 10 dies of COVID-19 in Waterloo Region, Ont. (Global)
Variants ‘better at travelling through the air,’ raising transmission risk, study finds (CTV)
Charts show how much more often unvaccinated Albertans are being hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 (CBC)

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