Why is Justin Trudeau an idiot

Canada chooses: fallen star or colorless challenger

Zurich, October 18, 2019


To the left, a few dozen Trudeau fans are shouting "four more years", a few meters away the supporters of the Conservative Party are chanting "Andrew Scheer" to the same tune.

A few days before the Canadian parliamentary elections on October 21, the two largest parties in the country are similarly close to each other in polls - the government chair of the former political superstar Justin Trudeau is wobbling worryingly.

While the supporters of the parties drown each other out, on the other side of the Ottawa River the green copper roofs of Parliament shimmer in the evening sun. Whoever moves in there for the next four years will also be negotiated on this day: the top candidates of the parties will be trundling in front of the national history museum for the big TV debate.

Scheer gets out of a blue bus that bears his name. The 40-year-old waves a little stiffly to his followers and quickly hurries through the sliding doors into the building. The liberal Trudeau is seven years older, but appears more dynamic. The prime minister gives his thumbs up and shows his famous winning smile.

Trudeau - who started out as a liberal hero, dubbed "Anti-Trump" since 2016 - didn't have much to celebrate in the past few months. First it became public that he wanted to suppress investigations against the Canadian company SNC-Lavalin for bribery payments in Libya - an ethics committee came to the conclusion that Trudeau had behaved wrongly.

In September, a 20-year-old picture appeared that showed Trudeau with darkly made-up face - disguised as Aladdin - at a party. Trudeau apologized for his "racist" behavior. He was always "more enthusiastic about costumes than it is sometimes appropriate."

Scandals survived

But the scandals didn't do him as much harm as his opponents hoped. Most Canadians think they know Trudeau better, says pollster David Coletto, head of Abacus Data in Ottawa. "That was 20 years ago and if you look at his career as a politician, you see that it doesn't fit." After all, Trudeau actively involved minorities.

Nonetheless, many are disillusioned that Trudeau failed to keep some of his promises - an electoral reform or a balanced budget by 2019. Despite the introduction of a CO2 tax, critics also feel that his climate policy is not far-reaching enough.

But there have also been successes: better support for low-income families, the fairly smooth legalization of cannabis and the rescue of the NAFTA trade agreement with the USA and Mexico, which is now on the brink of collapse.

The "sunny paths" with which Trudeau promised transparency and honesty, however, were too often in the shadows in the past four years. "I always say he's become a normal politician," says Coletto.

The election recommendation from former US President Barack Obama comes in very handy for the prime minister. He wrote on Twitter that the world needed Trudeau's "progressive leadership".

Mistrust of conservatives

The greatest happiness of the Liberals, however, is the colorless Andrew Scheer. If you ask Canadians about him, there is seldom any euphoria. Taxi driver Mike says Trudeau was an "idiot" when he painted himself. "But that's nothing against Mr. Scheer's falsehood!".

Many of the 37 million in diverse Canada tend towards liberal and left-wing politics. Scheer's conservative views on abortion and gay marriage, for example, do not go down well with them. And it does not seem to help much if he repeats endlessly not to want to interfere with the openness of existing laws.

Scheer, on the other hand, wants to take a completely different path in terms of climate. "The carbon tax has increased the cost of the things we need every day," he railed. His climate program shouldn't hurt the Canadians. Critics consider it to be correspondingly ineffective.

Instead, Scheer vies for the favor of voters on the second major election campaign issue - fear of rising prices. What would otherwise change with a government under his leadership remains unclear in many areas.

Economically, the citizens traditionally have a lot of confidence in the conservatives, but the economy is booming anyway. And whether Prime Minister Scheer would get along better with US President Donald Trump? In any case, European states would probably miss Trudeau as a reliable international partner.

Small parties hope for influence

The polls suggest that neither party can achieve an absolute majority of 170 seats. Most recently, the Conservatives were slightly ahead, mainly because of voters from the rural regions in the west of the country - but in around a third of the constituencies the direct candidates are close together.

In the event of a necessary minority government - which is not unusual in Canada - it would be the hour for the small parties. In the end, alongside Yves-François Blanchet from the regional Bloc Québécois, the social democrats of Jagmeet Singh could be decisive. Unlike Blanchet, he and the Green Elizabeth May had made it clear that they did not want to support Scheer.

Especially Singh had recently gained after a strong performance in the heated TV debate in the history museum. There he put the two big opponents in the shade on the subject of climate: Canada would "not have to choose between Mr. Delay (Trudeau) and Mr. Denial (Scheer)," he said. "There is another option."