Trudeau wears armoured-vest at Mississauga event following unspecified threat – Newstalk 610 CKTB (iHeartRadio)

Trudeau wears armoured-vest at Mississauga event following unspecified threat - Newstalk 610 CKTB (iHeartRadio)
In battleground B.C., Justin Trudeaus Liberals have been hit where it hurts
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Adam Pankratz is a lecturer at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. He is on the board of directors at Rokmaster Resources and ran for the federal Liberal Party in the riding of Burnaby South in 2015.

Justin Trudeau speaks with supporters during an election campaign rally in Surrey, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2019.

Voters in British Columbia enjoyed a rare treat in 2015: an election not firmly decided by the time their votes were counted. The Liberals red wave crashed hard upon the Pacific Coast and when all was said and done, B.C. voters had delivered 17 Liberal MPs to the House of Commons – a record number. These were the seats that Justin Trudeau needed to capture, and secure, a majority government.

But as Election Day 2019 approaches, a repeat of this performance looks unlikely, if not impossible. Seats which only six months ago would have been deemed safe are now in serious danger. Thats going to be a problem, given that the Liberals need the province to swing their way – and because the strongest national headwinds the Liberal brand faces threaten to do their most grievous damage in B.C.

First, in late 2016, came the decision to approve Kinder Morgans Trans Mountain pipeline. While a majority of British Columbians support the project, this damaged the Liberals credibility with environmentalists and the left, which had flocked to Mr. Trudeaus party in 2015. This was followed swiftly in early 2017 by a reversal of the promise to end the first-past-the-post electoral system. Electoral reform is a particular passion for certain circles in B.C., with the province having had two referendums on the issue in the past 18 years.

Blow three landed in May, 2018, when the government announced its intent to purchase Trans Mountain from Kinder Morgan. The decision was necessary given the importance of the project to the Canadian economy; the voting implications were small, but it further cemented in the minds of those still angry about the Liberals original approval of Trans Mountain that the party could not be their choice in the next election.

The fourth blow landed hard in early 2019. The SNC-Lavalin scandal led to the resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybould as Canadas first Indigenous attorney-general, as well as the Vancouver-Granville MPs eventual ejection from Liberal caucus.

The Ethics Commissioners recently released report about laffaire SNC is scathing. By concluding that Mr. Trudeau violated Canadas Conflict of Interest Act through his exertion of influence on Ms. Wilson-Raybould, he only bolstered the existing belief of B.C. voters in the narrative that the Liberals are always up to no good in Quebec.

Combined with the entrenched narrative that B.C. has never, and would never, receive anything approaching the largesse the Liberals have showered on la belle province over the course of their past few governments, and the fact that the easiest thing to believe about someone is something that aligns with what youre already inclined to believe, the still-infuriating ghosts of Gomery show how Western alienation isnt just for Albertans.

To repeat their success in B.C., the Liberals need to appeal to voters typically inclined to vote Conservative, Green and NDP. But Conservative-minded voters are fed up with delays to pipelines; traditional Green supporters have been outraged by the TMX purchase; and the NDP is crying foul over electoral reform. They are all united in their scorn and opprobrium for ethics violations. None of this bodes well for a big-tent party, which is what the Liberals must be if they hope to win a majority.

The Fraser Valley and Surrey will likely tell the tale of Liberal fortunes, with the North Shore now in play. The seats of Cloverdale-Langley City, Steveston-Richmond East, North Vancouver and West Vancouver Sunshine Coast, all previously held by the Conservatives, saw massive, likely unsustainable swings for the Liberals in 2015, as did the newly allocated seats in the traditionally Conservative Fraser Valley.

Even seats which seem like a Liberal cinch, such as Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinsons riding in North Vancouver, are now vulnerable. It is neither difficult nor inconceivable to see the Liberal seat count reduced by half.

Despite the threat of historic trends that favour the Conservatives, the real danger may not come exclusively from Andrew Scheers Conservatives, but also from the Green Party, which has the ability to pull voters yet to be impressed by the NDPs Jagmeet Singh or regretful about their 2015 Liberal vote. The Greens are hoping to win big on Vancouver Island and if they are able to draw the votes of those disillusioned by the Liberals, that would be a body blow to Mr. Trudeaus re-election hopes.

It is a most terrible bargain centre-left voters may be faced with come Oct. 21: swallow hard and vote for the Liberals despite the recent cascade of hypocrisy, disappointments and failures, or vote NDP or Green and, in so doing, bolster the odds for the Conservatives, who have had their own problems with questionable candidates and controversial views on third-rail issues. Indeed, as the blows mount for the Trudeau Liberals, a sad outcome may prove just as decisive: Repulsed Canadians just wont vote. That plays to the Conservatives advantage too.

This campaign is still far from over, and its probably wise to hedge bets a little in B.C.s quickly changing political winds. The negativity and mudslinging that has dragged down this campaign need not define its ending: The Liberals have much to run on, from a strong economy to climate change to positive action on womens issues.

All of these positive messages play well in the province and can remind B.C. voters why they plumped for Mr. Trudeau to begin with. But the way winds have blown over this writ period, it certainly seems that Oct. 21 will be far stormier for Mr. Trudeau than the bright-red Pacific sunset he saw four years ago.

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If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to [email protected] Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Perhaps, as some say, every election is about anxiety. The body politic has concerns and fears and it seeks out reassurance, security, stability or hope.

But the 2019 federal election comes at a time when there is much to be anxious about — an unusual and profound array of things to rob us of sleep.

If you're not worried about something right now, it's presumably because you're not paying attention. In fits and starts, gasps and groans, this election has been about those worries.

Worries about the cost of living and economic security. About keeping pace with modern life and feeling successful and believing that the system works and dealing with the sense that things are changing and changing quickly.

Worries about whether we can afford to continue developing our resources, and whether we can afford not to.

Worries about Donald Trump. About China. About populism and nationalism — forces that draw on fear, resentment and frustration. About disinformation and foreign interference — corrosive agents which feed on cynicism and distrust. About the future of liberal democracy and the global world order.

Worries about immigration and inclusion and multiculturalism and whether an elementary school teacher in Quebec should be allowed to wear a hijab. About the unfinished business of reconciliation. About what Canada should be and how it should stand in the world.

About the increasingly unavoidable threat of climate change and what that means for our children and grandchildren. Canadian politicians have been talking about global warming for more than 30 years. But the time for talking has nearly run out — consequential choices must now be made.

Whirring away in the background is the anxiety-inducing hum of social media, the buzz of pithy sarcasm, sneering outrage and gallows humour.

This election is about all of that. Even if it has sometimes seemed to have more to do with a private school's gala fundraiser in 2001, the insurance broker certification laws of Saskatchewan and whether a federal party leader's national tour should use one plane or two.

In various ways, the last six weeks have provided voters with new reasons to feel insecure about the individuals who might wield power in this country after October 21.

Justin Trudeau, a champion for diversity, was found to have dressed up in blackface. Just a month after being called to account for the SNC-Lavalin affair, Trudeau had to try to explain his decision to don a racist costume eighteen years earlier.

Andrew Scheer struggled to explain his views on same-sex marriage and abortion. Then he had to explain the limitations of his brief experience as an insurance broker. Then he had to admit he held American citizenship — a fact he had neglected to mention previously, even while he was questioning the dual citizenship of a former governor-general and after his party had criticized the divided loyalties of other leaders of the opposition.

Elizabeth May, seemingly poised for a breakthrough, quickly found herself stumbling over questions about her party's positions on abortion and Quebec sovereignty.

Maybe it's no coincidence that the two party leaders whose public standing has improved the most over the past month and a half — the NDP's Jagmeet Singh and the Bloc Québécois' Yves-François Blanchet — are the ones who have been scrutinized the least.

Video: Canada Election: Trudeau makes a campaign stop in Toronto | LIVE

Singh in particular has succeeded by surpassing the low expectations he spent two years working hard to establish with a lacklustre performance as party leader. But Singh seems to be enjoying himself during this campaign. And in the wake of those blackface photos, he spoke to the occasion in a way that seemed to transcend a campaign that has, at times, played out like a competition to see which party could be busted with the largest number of embarrassing candidates.

Video: Canada Election: Trudeau makes a campaign stop in Toronto | LIVE

But then Singh also has now wobbled on the question of Quebec's Bill 21 (after also trying to split hairs on the reality of federal jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines).

The travails of the major party leaders seemed to culminate in a messy English-language debate that failed to settle much of anything. That event had barely begun when Scheer — who used to insist that he would campaign on a "positive" vision — turned to Trudeau and angrily called him a "phoney" and a "fraud."

Underneath all the cross-talk and shouting, the campaign has not been bereft of proposals and possible responses to the predominant worries of the moment.

Front and centre have been  proposals to deal with "affordability" — this campaign's buzziest of buzzwords. There are duelling promises from the Liberals and Conservatives to provide both broad relief and targeted support, with real differences between the two offers. The Greens and New Democrats have countered with proposals to significantly expand social programs, with each committing to national pharmacare.

When the world seems to be coming apart at the seams, it could feel a bit odd to be talking about tax cuts and the interest rates on student loans. But everything else might be a bit easier to deal with if everyone feels more comfortable in their day-to-day lives.

Dennis Matthews, who once ran advertising for the Conservative Party, observed last month that "affordability" is about more than having a few dollars left to spend at the end of the month — it's about how you feel about the way things work.

The other major fault line of this campaign is more explicitly existential: climate change and what, if anything, we should do about it. On that, there are serious questions about ambition and feasibility — buffeted by dire warnings that our house is on fire and doctrinaire claims that no one can be both truly committed to the welfare of future generations and willing to support a pipeline.

The platforms might not be stirring. The presentations might not be cinematic. But it can't be said that there aren't real differences between the options. Three parties are preoccupied with climate change. One party is intent on cutting spending to balance the budget. All elections have consequences.

With another four weeks, we might be able to explore all of it in greater detail. It's always more complicated than the sound bites allow for.

On the other hand, another four weeks might be just squandered on "unfounded rumours" — another of this election's defining phrases — and whatever new conspiracy theories bubble up from the fever swamps of Twitter.

Regardless, the final days will be rife with warnings about what might happen if the result goes one way or the other.

Some have lamented that this election has lacked inspiration — or worse, that it has been a grubby and dispiriting affair. To the long list of all the things we worry about, we could add the state of our politics.

The other complaint we hear is that this has been an election about nothing. That's only true if you ignore everything there is to worry about and all the ways those things might be affected by the election's result.

The most consequential moments are not always preceded by the most brilliant displays of democracy. The United Kingdom's general election of 1935 is not remembered as a particularly interesting affair. But it created the Parliament that led the British into the Second World War.

Perhaps this campaign has not offered much in the way of reassurance or excitement. But all the things we might worry about will still be there on October 22.

This election is about deciding how we will deal with all of it, and who will be responsible for doing so.

Aaron Wherry has covered Parliament Hill since 2007 and has written for Maclean's, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. He is the author of Promise & Peril, a book about Justin Trudeau's years in power.

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