Fed­eral elec­tion kicks off to­day


OT­TAWA — Justin Trudeau will ask Canada’s Gov­er­nor Gen­eral to ring the bell to­day for a 40-day fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign, one that pits a scan­dal-rid­den Lib­eral gov­ern­ment against a Con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion that has yet to cap­i­tal­ize on the strug­gles of its prin­ci­pal ri­val.

The 2019 cam­paign lead­ing up to elec­tion day Oct. 21 is also promis­ing an in­ter­est­ing un­der­card: a fight be­tween Jag­meet Singh’s founder­ing NDP and the resur­gent Green party of El­iz­a­beth May for third-party brag­ging rights.

Fur­ther down the lineup, watch for whether Maxime Bernier can punch above the weight of dis­mal polling num­bers to make his up­start Peo­ple’s Party of Canada an ac­tual po­lit­i­cal force, and whether the Bloc Que­be­cois can re­cap­ture the at­ten­tion of Que­be­cers af­ter the party nearly dis­solved in a civil war.

By the end, of course, the stand­ings could be very dif­fer­ent, with an un­ex­pected cham­pion. All the par­ties have been spar­ring for weeks, pre­par­ing for what many pre­dict will be a brutish bat­tle for the 170 seats needed for a ma­jor­ity.

Lib­eral min­is­ters have been mak­ing gov­ern­ment fund­ing an­nounce­ments all sum­mer long, while rarely miss­ing an op­por­tu­nity to swipe at the Con­ser­va­tives for their links to some of the more po­lar­iz­ing fig­ures on the po­lit­i­cal right.

The Con­ser­va­tives have bounced around the coun­try too, lash­ing out at the Lib­er­als on is­sues like the car­bon tax and the re­cent find­ing by the ethics com­mis­sioner that Trudeau broke ethics law by in­ter­fer­ing in the ques­tion of whether SNC-Lavalin ought to go to court on bribery charges.

The rul­ing was damn­ing but it didn’t ap­pear to move the polls much in the Con­ser­va­tives’ favour, in­di­cat­ing that for them, this cam­paign is not just about ex­plain­ing why Trudeau shouldn’t be re-elected.

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