Is this Canadian election going to be a repeat of 1972?

Justin Trudeau has convinced the governor general to dissolve Parliament, kicking off a national campaign

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      Canadians of a certain age can recall the first round of Trudeaumania in 1968.

      The charismatic Liberal leader, Pierre Trudeau, won an overwhelming mandate as his party captured 154 of the 264 seats in the House of Commons. 

      But after a fairly lacklustre first term during which many Canadians learned that their prime minister wasn't quite as progressive as they had imagined, the Liberal vote receded in the 1972 election.

      Trudeau's party won only two more seats than the Conservatives in 1972 and only remained in power with the support of the NDP.

      Interestingly, the NDP won the same number of seats in 1972 as it took in 1968: 22. Yet it had far more clout as a result of no party winning a majority.

      Could the same thing occur in this year's Canadian election, which Trudeau's son Justin triggered this morning by visiting the governor general?

      Like his father, Justin won a decisive victory in his first election run as Liberal leader. Many Canadians felt he was the perfect antidote to his predecessor, Stephen Harper.

      But since becoming prime minister, Justin Trudeau has not lived up to expectations of many progressive voters. And he's disappointed some Blue Liberals who expected much smaller deficits.

      Andrew Scheer is being portayed by his opponents as Stephen Harper with dimples.
      Andrew Scheer

      So now, the polls have Liberals and Conservatives in an extremely close race. If the Liberals match the Conservative percentage of the popular vote, Justin Trudeau's party will likely win more seats because of the distribution of its support.

      That's because Conservative candidates tend to win landslides in rural areas of Western Canada, but don't always fare as well in the suburbs of major cities, where elections are won and lost.

      Keep in mind that Trudeau has ticked off progressive voters with his decision to buy a pipeline company. Many also feel he has not responded aggressively enough to the climate crisis. This presents an opportunity for Green Leader Elizabeth May. 

      Trudeau has tried to present himself as a politician for the middle class with his fiscal policies, but many younger Canadians still feel that they'll never be able to buy a home. They could be in the mood for policies that take more from the rich.

      NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is hoping that Canadians will embrace his message that the rich are getting richer, but the rest of Canadians are being left behind.
      Jagmeet Singh

      That's the sweet spot that the NDP is aiming for under Jagmeet Singh, who's proposed a weath tax and a national pharmacare program. Singh is also talking a lot about the high cost of housing, which helped him cruise to victory earlier this year in the Burnaby South by-election.

      Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer faces opposition on the right from former caucus member Maxime Bernier.

      Through his new People's Party of Canada, Bernier is pandering to social conservatives and those who favour sharply reduced immigration—two groups of voters that have traditionally been part of the Conservative Party of Canada base.

      Then there's the Bloc Québécois, which isn't talked about much in English Canada. If it stages even a modest recovery in this campaign under its very green new leader, Yves-François Blanchet, Trudeau and Scheer might both have to kiss away any chance of winning a majority.

      Blanchet won two elections as a provincial politician with the Parti Québécois and served as the minister of sustainable development, environment, wildlife, and parks. It's too early to rule out his chances of capturing a fair number of seats.

      Elizabeth May (right) is hoping to win over voters who've been disenchanted by the prime minister's treatment of former attorney general and justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (left).
      Jesse Brown

      So what does all this suggest?

      Quite probably, a minority government, just like Justin Trudeau's father ended up with after the 1972 election.

      Here's the problem for Justin Trudeau—as much as his party tries to whip up fears over Scheer to consolidate the progressive vote, it's not likely to work.

      That's because unlike Harper, Scheer hasn't governed, let alone been in cabinet.

      So Canadians don't have any direct experience of what it will be like if he were to rule the country.

      They can guess, but it's not nearly as visceral as living under Harper for three terms. It's hard for people to fear what they don't know.

      Hence, the Liberals' heavy reliance on campaigning against Ontario premier Doug Ford, who's a Scheer ally. Ontario residents have endured Ford's leadership and it's hurt like hell.

      But that won't help  the Liberals much in B.C., Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, where they have to win big to regain a majority.

      Frankly, I don't see that happening this time around.

      If I'm right, this will make either Jagmeet Singh or Elizabeth May, or even Yves-François Blanchet or Maxime Bernier, a kingmaker.