A B.C. academic says a Conservative majority government led by Andrew Scheer cannot be totally discounted.
While polling for the October 21 election suggests a minority government led either by Conservatives or Liberals, Hamish Telford of the University of the Fraser Valley noted that a majority mandate for Scheer is not to be ruled out.
However, Telford, an associate professor of political science, also pointed out that the path to a Conservative majority is “not clear”.
“I don’t think that they have a good chance, but it’s not inconceivable,” Telford told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
Scheer called on Canadians to give his party a majority mandate on Monday (October 14) after NDP leader Jagmeet Singh stated that he would “absolutely” support a coalition government with Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.
In a statement on that day, Scheer said that Trudeau “will pay any price to stay in power”.
According to Scheer, a Liberal-NDP coalition will mean a higher carbon tax, fewer jobs, and bigger budget deficits.
“There’s only one way for Canadians to stop this coalition that you cannot afford: Vote for Andrew Scheer and elect a Conservative majority government,” the Conservative leader said.
Telford noted that the Conservative vote is “not very efficient”.
“They’re getting far too many votes in Alberta and Saskatchewan to be helpful, but they’re not getting enough votes in the other regions of the country,” Telford explained. “However, if the vote splits amongst the three other parties [Liberal, NDP, Greens], and the People’s Party [of Canada] is not much of a factor on the other side, then we could see Conservatives winning ridings with a plurality of the vote, you know, in the low 30 percent range, 32, 33, 34 percent.”
“It’s very difficult to pull that off,” Telford continued. “I don’t think that the probabilities are great, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.”
According to Telford, it’s understandable that Scheer is trying to play on fears about a coalition government.
“We have so little experience in Canada with coalition governments that people are a little fearful of them,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any need to be necessarily fearful of coalition governments. Coalition governments are normal in most European countries.”
Telford said the situation is reminiscent of what happened after the 2008 election.
Then Conservative leader Stephen Harper won a minority government, and the Liberals and NDP agreed to form a coalition with the support of the Bloc Quebecois.
“Conservatives completely demonized the idea of coalition governments, and they succeeded, and the Liberals had to back away from that plan,” Telford recalled.
Telford declined to speculate that a potential majority win for the Conservatives can be partly accounted for by voters’ fears about a Liberal-NDP coalition.
“My own suspicion is that people have not been biding their time to decide about Andrew Scheer, but rather, they’ve been biding their time to decide if they want Justin Trudeau again,” Telford said. “I think a lot of Canadians have come to view Justin Trudeau as a bit of an embarrassment or that they would be embarrassed to vote for him and had been unwilling to lend him their support.”
“But when they go in to the privacy of the ballot booth and nobody is looking, may be they vote Liberal because they can’t abide the alternative,” Telford continued. “So I think this is more of a referendum about Justin Trudeau than it is about Andrew Scheer.”