, 12.16.2023 05:28 PM

My latest: ten reasons why it’s a ten-point spread

The polls say Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives have dropped, a bit. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have gone up, a bit.

How come? Ten reasons. Tories first.

1. Poilievre’s LikeAbility Gap. Every successful political leader in Canada – Jean Chretien, Rene Levesque, Mel Lastman, Ralph Klein, Doug Ford – was likeable. They were HOAGS: Hell Of A Guy – you could picture yourself having a beer with them. They were imperfect, and admitted their mistakes. The newly-minted Conservative leader doesn’t do that. And, as pollster Angus Reid has found, as Canadians get to know him, they find Poilievre “arrogant” and “insincere” – more than 40 per cent of them.
2. Peaking too soon: The Tories have had as much as a 15 point lead over the Grits in recent polling. That’s good, but that’s not something you want to have happen more than a year before an election. You want to have it happen in the third week of the election campaign. As in comedy, so too in politics: timing is everything. The Tories may have peaked way too soon.
3. Peekaboo Pierre: Apart from showing up at a pro-Israel rally or issuing a few tweets, the Conservative leader has been mostly silent on some of the big international issues of the day: the wars in Ukraine and Gaza. He’s kept his focus on the affordability crisis. At one level, making yourself less of a target is good politics. But sometimes, being invisible looks a bit timid, too. Love him or hate him, Trudeau has been visible and much more vocal on the wars – and Canadians are watching those wars closely.
4. Unforced errors: On those rare occasions where the Conservatives have taken a position on international issues, they’ve made unforced errors – as with the Ukraine-Canada free trade agreement. Poilievre told his caucus to vote against the deal because it “imposed” a carbon tax on the beleaguered European nation. Three problems: one, it doesn’t. The Ukrainians already have a carbon tax. Two, Volodymyr Zelenskyy came to Canada in September, in part, to push for the deal. He wants it. Three, what the Hell? Does Poilievre want to run Ukraine as well as Canada? Stay in your lane, Pierre.
5. Picking media fights: Poilievre’s testy exchange with an ill-prepared B.C. reporter while he chewed on an apple was a home run. Picking the occasional fight with the media is good politics, especially for conservatives – the base eat it up. But doing it all the time, as Poilievre tends to do, gets tired, and sometimes even looks like bullying. When nearly half of Canadians already think you’re arrogant (see above), that ain’t good.
6. Trudeau’s the devil we know: The Liberal leader, as disliked as he is, is a known quantity. Those who dislike him know why they dislike him. Those who like him – a quarter of voters – have stuck with him through thick and thin. Poileivre, however, has yet to be fully defined in the minds of voters. And, as they get to know him better, some clearly don’t like what they see.
7. One guy has a climate plan: And the other one doesn’t. This, more than any other issue, is what killed Erin O’Toole and Andrew Scheer with younger voters – the belief that Trudeau cares about the environment, and successive Tory leaders just don’t. Which is why an Abacus poll revealed, this week, that the one policy issue that still works for Trudeau is the environment. Most Canadians believe Trudeau has a green plan, however imperfect. And that Poilievre doesn’t.
8. Incumbency is Trudeau’s friend: Like him or not, it isn’t hard to picture Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister – because that’s what he’s been since November 4, 2015. As the former Special Assistant to Jean Chretien, trust me: real power – incumbency – confers gravitas and credibility on a leader. Being an opposition leader just doesn’t.
9. Audition for the job you want: …not the one you already have. Pierre Poilievre is an amazing Leader of the Opposition. He’s tough in Question Period, in committee, and in scrums. Yes. But there was another opposition leader who was great at all that, too: Tom Mulcair. So where’s Tom Mulcair now? Gone, baby, gone. Trudeau knows drama and auditions, and he’s always auditioning for the role of P.M. Poilievre, too, auditions for the job he’s already got.
10. Trudeau’s got a bigger base: Conservative-minded voters are highly motivated – to vote, to donate, to get involved. Progressive voters aren’t – but there’s more of them. When you lump the Liberal and NDP vote together, as Trudeau clearly does with his Axis of Weasels™ coalition, the progressive side offers more gettable vote. And some of it is clearly coming back to Team Trudeau.

Does any of this spell disaster for Pierre Poilievre, and another victory for Justin Trudeau? Of course not. The current shift in the polls is within the margin of error, as they say.

But Poilievre would be a fool to count out Trudeau.

And Pierre Poilievre is no fool.


  1. Douglas W says:

    Seriously doubt Poilievre is counting out Trudeau.

  2. Peter Williams says:

    Re Trudeau’s “climate plan”.

    Trudeau et al tell us that climate change is a threat to our very existence. Except Trudeau et al don’t really believe this. If climate change was a threat to human existence, would Trudeau, Guilbeault, etc. fly in airplanes?

    When COVID hit Canada, Trudeau isolated himself, and held meetings via Zoom (or equivalent). Good for him. Note that Covid had a less than 1% chance of killing someone Trudeau’s age.

    Yet for climate change, which Trudeau says promises to wipe out ALL of humanity, Trudeau doesn’t do Zoom meetings. Instead Trudeau Guilbeault etc, fly all over the planet. Heck, he even flies for vacation.

    The emperor has no clothes.

  3. Warren,

    1. Pierre, like Harper is seen as cerebral. And yet despite that, Harper formed governments three times. So, likeability isn’t the be-all and end-all in politics.

    2. I don’t know that we’ve peaked too soon because who can reliably say what the peak number is? However, I will concede that sustaining our momentum to the same degree as at present will at the very least be challenging.

    3. Pierre should have a higher profile on Israel. No question about it.

    4. As for Ukraine, it was a fumble that will require better briefers and briefings on Ukraine. We really blew this one but good.

    5. Kind of depends on the context: the apple orchard was pure gold because the reporter was clearly incompetent and in way over his head. As for the Parliamentary press gallery, they generally know their files and briefs so one needs to be more subtle in one’s approach. If they behave like the orchard journalist, sure, go full bore but otherwise kill them with kindness instead.

    6. Nope, Pierre is Harper in 2006. IMHO, that’s the exact and proper context. Clark used this argument and Martin still lost.

    7. True but for it to be electorally significant, turnout of young people has to be at least significant if not record-setting. I have my doubts.

    8. Trudeau and credibility don’t go together. Why else would the United States and Five Eyes quite deliberately keep him out of the loop as regards any significant diplomatic or national security policy? To ask the question is to answer it.

    9. Tom lost because in the eyes of previous NDP voters he was no Jack, especially in Quebec. That made all the difference. It wasn’t due to his so-called prickly personality. To wit: see Harper.

    10. Sure, progressives outnumber conservatives. But Pierre has a natural constituency will younger voters. In short, more in our camp already than Scheer and O’Toole had.

    • Martin Dixon says:

      One could also flip the article. The usual suspects never believed the big lead(some sort of MSM plot, the details of which I am not totally clear on). The headline basically says-here is why it is only a 10 point lead. It could also be written to explain why the lead is that high using all the same arguments.
      1. People HAVE been getting to know him and his favourabilities vs Trudeau and on a stand alone basis are improving.
      2. Maybe but how do you prevent it or solve it. It is like when clients who bitch because of some great big tax bill they have after a successful year. I say, there are worse problems. Would you rather not have the problem? But there is no question you need to run like you are losing. I sure do locally after losing the first campaign I was seriously involved in by 500 votes.
      3. and 4. I think it is calculated. Maybe his math is wrong but I am sure he will adjust as necessary and hopefully he is paying attention to articles like this one. IMHO, I don’t think Ukraine is hurting him. The largest Ukrainian diaspora is out west and no way is he losing out there.
      5. Been telling these guys to go after these dumbasses and their premise based questions for years. It is working but agree he needs to be careful. He is going around them anyway. It is funny to watch David Cameron say every night on P and P, “we invited a representative of the Conservatives to appear with us but one was not made available”.
      6. See 1 above.
      7. He is starting to get the young vote though. I have seen various theories on when he should present his platform and many say this is not the time. They say his job now is to just oppose. The Liberals are literally trying to steal his housing ideas although I wouldn’t be patting myself on the back about an announcement of 115 million to help build 40,000 houses in BC. Math is a lost art. That is 2875.00 per house. The bureaucracy to deliver that money will be higher than that. Ryan Leef(who hopefully runs again) was asked online what the Conservative plan was on climate change and he said :

      “Speed up approvals for nuclear power generation; make cleaner technologies more affordable; set Corp emission standards with penalties for exceeding those, that go directly to a green fund to improve emission output, access Canadian energy to reduce reliance on overseas and imported energy (and the associated energy it takes to get here), quit relying on Chinese lithium for batteries to run solar and start using Canadian Lithium for greener technology, move to a one project one approval process to speed up approval for hydro; tidal technology and other cleaner energy initiatives that currently take so long companies pack up and head to the US. That’s just a few of the common sense ideas that a lot of Canadians are getting behind.”

      Now that is a mouthful and hard to wrap your head around but a carbon tax isn’t and lots of people are not fans. Thinking the people in homeless encampments this winter would rather there be a bit of global warming-ditto the people in the food bank line ups.
      8. True but not much you can do about that.
      9. To add to Ronald’s point, Pierre is making inroads in Quebec. Ana doesn’t hurt.
      10. Food and housing affordability are important to progressive voters, more so than climate change and the polls prove that out. Tories won the popular vote the last two elections and with those issues, they are adding to their base.

      • Martin,

        I would have surrogates out there every single time on Mothercorp shows. It’s vital to take them on otherwise we pass for a party trying to hide something, or just a party of weenies who are scared of our precious crown corp. liberals and social democrats.

        • Martin Dixon says:

          Or not Ronald-I guess we will see.

          • Martin Dixon says:

            I see the Liberals are running ads out west against Tory MPs over Ukraine. Good luck with that, seriously. They have a THIRTY-FOUR percent lead over the Liberals out there. Go ahead-waste your money.

    • Douglas W says:

      Hardcore Liberals that I know say they won’t vote Liberal in the next federal election.

      Because this government’s policies have caused them unnecessary hardship and … because … they simply have grown tired of the guy.

  4. Gilbert says:

    Maybe the Liberals have gained some support, but I can’t see how Justin Trudeau will win again. Pierre has shown that he can handle the media, and he doesn’t have an elitist background. I really think a lot of people vote with their walkets, and that should really help Pierre.

    • Martin Dixon says:

      Not being part of the Laurentian elite helped Harper and will help Pierre. People try to argue he is but that is either a lie or they are uninformed. I can provide some helpful links. One Tru-anon whack job moron tried to argue that he was some sort of Manchurian candidate that has been groomed since he was a teenager to be PM. There Ladies and Gentlemen is Justin’s base.

  5. RKJ says:

    Thanks for your comments, Warren. I am reminded, again, of Peter McKay’s comment about Andrew Scheer: “He had a breakaway on an empty net and he shot wide”. While the polls are promising, lots of things can happen, as you point out. It would be helpful to own a different interpretation of the environment file, a “we care too, and this how we’ll address it”.
    I do think the current polls show many Canadians really want a change. All Pierre has to do is not shoot wide on an empty net.

  6. Robert White says:

    Everyone knows that Poilievre cannot ‘balance the books’ or restore 2% Core Inflation if given two terms of office. He will revert to typical attacks against immigration given the shortage of housing supply in the now commoditized pipeline and he will come down hard on Foreign Students eating up available supply in all the university towns across the country as a means to follow that other populist dictator leading in the polls down south.

    Once folks realize he’s all hat and no cattle Trudeau
    will look electable once again. Moreover, populism
    cannot find itself a seat at any reasoned table of contemporary political thought throughout Canada.
    The Cons will never succeed at their old & worn confidence game of right-wing politics. They are a
    one hit wonder and yesterday’s man/woman.

    • Martin Dixon says:

      He wants to accelerate immigration for people who can fill shortages in the professions. Smart immigration. What the heck is wrong with that?

      • Robert White says:

        Temporary Foreign Workers allow governments to
        avoid training Canadian workers that should always
        be given preferential treatment in the hiring que. Moreover, I’m sure the unions all dislike TFW because
        they limit the power of unions to control labour which
        is what union busters want to bust the unions and their

        Harper went nuts with TFWs and Skippy P. is merely
        taking a page from his mentor.

        • Robert,

          You’re talking TFWs. Martin is talking about recruiting permanent professionals, especially in health care. Apples and oranges.

          • Robert White says:

            The Cons want to privatize health care, Ronald.
            They don’t want to bring in TFWs for the unionized
            health care system. They have a known agenda to
            do anything they can to break up union control over
            health care. Moreover, if they were at all interested
            in assisting Tertiary Care Medicine they would harang
            all the top schools that grant degrees in medicine throughout Canada, but they don’t.

            Lastly, the Cons want TFWs for the newly constructed
            and federally funded lithium battery plants that the
            Ford Government is also funding.

          • Martin Dixon says:


          • Robert White says:

            Edit on harangue.

            Sorry about that.

          • Robert,

            The CPC or the other parties are not pushing for privatization of health care. What we support, in our case, is increased private clinics in selected areas to reduce surgery and other waiting times in the public sector. One can debate the merit of that but that is in no way an across-the-board pledge to privatize health care. We will respect the provisions of the Canada Health Act. No question about it. Complete privitization of health care would be political suicide.

          • Martin Dixon says:

            Robert-based on what? And the “right” was directed at Ronald. Pierre won’t go after any unions except, hopefully, the ridiculous bloated overpaid federal civil service. And you LITERALLY have it backwards as to who wants to bring in TFWs for those battery plants. Literally backwards.

          • Martin Dixon says:

            Also, apparently we let in FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY THOUSAND immigrants in three months. Someone needs to explain to me, slowly, how a few announcements that will build a few thousand houses is going to make up for that increase in the population. I’ll wait.

          • Martin Dixon says:

            Get used to it Ronald. Just because the fact that we intend to privatize health care is basically a nonsensical lie, doesn’t mean that it won’t be beaten like a drum by the usual suspects along with abortion, the death penalty, gay rights, etc. etc.

    • Robert,

      In a word, N-O-P-E.

  7. Steve T says:

    Bottom line with Pollievre – he needs to stay far clear of the Trump comparisons that the Libs will inevitably try to paint him with. If he can do that, the election is his for the taking. But it will only take a couple of Trump-esque speeches or actions to turn the tide significantly.
    I am a lifelong Conservative in Canada, but a staunch anti-Trumper (and his ilk elsewhere). I suspect there are a lot in Canada like me.

  8. EsterHazyWasALoser says:

    I still think PM Trudeau will hang onto office as long as he can. I don’t see an election anytime soon. Maybe the Liberals’ plan is to let the voting public get a good long look at the Leader of the Official Opposition, reckoning that the more they see him, the less inclined they will be to vote for him. I am also one of those people that believe campaigns matter, and that could be the deciding factor.

    • EHWAL,

      Yup, anything can happen but this cake already looks pretty baked in. I don’t see Poilièvre blowing himself and all of us CPC members out of the water in the campaign. Hope I’m right.

  9. Jason says:

    I’ve honestly questioned whether Poilievre even cares if he wins the PMO. He only seems concerned with the adulation he gets from the 25-30% that will be voting Conservative no matter what. Many of those that put him in the position as Conservative leader are the same folks that believe that any election that doesn’t go their way is clearly fraudulent – you know, the ones that show up at his rallies and start bitching about the Dominion voting machines Canada doesn’t even use. If their victim-in-chief actually comes to power, what are they gonna do when they can’t play the “vote is rigged” card anymore?

    As you said, Pierre is clever. Clever enough to know which aspects of Donald Trump to parrot… but he lacks the level of pathological malignant narcissism to truly complete the package. That’s why I believe he is content as the permanent CPC Opposition leader. His base will never turn on him, but he’s not going to get any more likeable than he is now, blue blazer and contact lenses be damned.

  10. Curious V says:

    Face it folks, Trudeau is going to win the next election. Like Warren says, they’ve peaked too soon, their leader is unlikeable, and they don’t have a plan for the environment. I don’t think I agree with Jason that PP wants to be in opposition, but that’s where he belongs, and hopefully where he will remain.

    • Curious,

      Again, N-O-P-E.

    • Martin Dixon says:

      I am going to post this for about the third time(as recently as above but you tend to ignore things that you don’t agree with). The fact they don’t have a plan is not accurate. Here is a snippet. Now I realize it is a bit more complicated than “climate change bad-please give us your money” so I can understand why many are just ignoring it or don’t understand it:

      “Speed up approvals for nuclear power generation; make cleaner technologies more affordable; set Corp emission standards with penalties for exceeding those, that go directly to a green fund to improve emission output, access Canadian energy to reduce reliance on overseas and imported energy (and the associated energy it takes to get here), quit relying on Chinese lithium for batteries to run solar and start using Canadian Lithium for greener technology, move to a one project one approval process to speed up approval for hydro; tidal technology and other cleaner energy initiatives that currently take so long companies pack up and head to the US. That’s just a few of the common sense ideas that a lot of Canadians are getting behind.”

  11. Curious V says:

    Voting against a trade deal with Ukraine aligns PP with the People’s Party, his natural home, where they side with Russia, deny climate change, dream up Covid conspiracy’s and shut down the capital when they don’t get their way – Like Jason says, I’m waiting for voting machine conspiracy theory when they lose the next election.

    • Curious,

      Hope both of you aren’t holding your breath. You risk becoming a stark shade of CPC blue in the interim.

    • Martin Dixon says:

      I don’t think anyone will change their vote over Ukraine. Especially in the huge Ukrainian diaspora out west.

      Alberta 343,640 (8.1%)
      British Columbia 210,100 (4.2%)
      Manitoba 165,305 (12.3%)
      Saskatchewan 138,705 (12.2%)

      Be glad to give you odds on that.

  12. Douglas W says:

    Polling Canada today has the Conservatives ahead by 16 points, based on an Innovative Poll with 2,131 respondents.

    Liberals tracking at 24%, NDP at 19.
    Should be interesting to see the end-of-year fundraising numbers, which will be announced in early January.

    Suspect the Liberals and NDP will continue to hang on for dear life because … neither can afford a leadership vote or a federal election.

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