The Coles Notes version of the 2021 federal election in Canada

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      Today (August 15), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canadians will go to the polls on September 20.

      This summer election is taking place as the number of COVID-19 cases are on the rise. The Delta variant is raging. And parents and educators in many parts of Canada are upset about students returning to classrooms without masks.

      It's also been a season of record-breaking temperatures, with wildfires burning up many parts of B.C.'s Interior.

      With that in mind, here's what we can expect from the party leaders:

      Justin Trudeau

      He'll do what Liberals always do—tell left-of-centre voters that if they cast a ballot for the NDP, they'll wind up with a Conservative government.

      What's worse, his henchmen and henchwomen will say, is that Conservatives oppose mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations of federal public servants.

      In every campaign, the Liberals find examples of Conservative candidates who oppose a woman's right to reproductive choice. And these anti-abortionists will be outed during the campaign, as will any Conservative who's opposed LGBT-friendly education programs in the schools.

      Plus, Trudeau will brag about how he's had Canadians' backs during the pandemic. Fortunately for him, there probably won't be any more blackface scandals this time around, so things should go according to plan.

      Erin O'Toole

      He'll try to act like George W. Bush in the 2000 U.S. presidential campaign and present himself as a compassionate conservative. That will be reflected in O'Toole's constant blathering about his deep concern for people's mental health.

      But in reality, the Conservative campaign will be laser-focused on the economy, borrowing from Bill Clinton's successful presidential campaign in 1992. I can just imagine the Conservative backroom operators advising candidates: "It's the economy, stupid." Just as Ragin' Cajun and Clinton campaign manager James Carville declared at every opportunity in the 1992 campaign.

      Jagmeet Singh

      His best chance of electing more MPs is if the Conservatives implode, thereby taking away Trudeau's central argument for voting Liberal. If Trudeau has it in the bag, there's no risk in voting NDP for those who despise Conservative rule.

      Singh will talk about all the problems that haven't been adequately addressed, including the climate, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, housing, income inequality, racial discrimination, et cetera. If he can play any role in diminishing Conservative support in Ontario, Quebec, and possibly even Manitoba early in the campaign, then progressive Canadians will feel safer voting for his party. But his best ally in this election just might be Maxime Bernier (see below).

      Maxime Bernier's hoping he can stand out from the field with his declaration that he's not getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

      Maxime Bernier

      The People's Party of Canada leader is going to try to pull a Donald Trump and win some seats by bashing the establishment and the media, and by painting O'Toole as a Liberal running dog. It's not going to work for him.

      However, it might be sufficient to drag down the Conservative vote by two or three percentage points, which could provide some daylight for the NDP if voters believe that O'Toole is never going to become prime minister.

      But let's face it—a politician like Bernier, who refuses to be vaccinated against COVID-19, is not going to make major inroads with voters. Nor will he be invited to participate in televised debates. He's finished politically.

      Yves-François Blanchet can expect to come under greater scrutiny in the 2021 campaign than he received in 2019.

      Yves-François Blanchet

      The Bloc Québécois leader got lucky in 2019 with Trudeau's SNC-Lavalin scandal and then Conservative leader Andrew Scheer's dismal performance in the French-language debate. Couple that with his base's opposition to someone working for the government wearing a turban, and the pieces were in place for a stunning number of seats to go for the Bloc.

      This time, Quebec residents are more comfortable with Singh, who speaks remarkably good French. And O'Toole is not nearly as likely to make an ass of himself on abortion in the televised debate. Plus, the SNC-Lavalin scandal is fading into the background, setting the stage for the Bloc to lose a few seats.

      What will Blanchet do? Remind voters of the Trudeau government's tepid response to the climate crisis and say once again that only the Bloc will speak for Quebeckers in Parliament. It might retain some seats, but not enough to counter a Liberal offensive that's about to take place as Trudeau grasps for a majority. Blanchet could find himself buried in negative ads.

      Annamie Paul saw her Green caucus shrink by a third after she became leader when Jenica Atwin defected to the Liberals.

      Annamie Paul

      For the Greens, it will be every candidate for themselves because there won't be much money flowing from the national office. The beleaguered Paul is going to focus most of her attention on trying to win her own seat—or fare well enough to stave off being ousted after the election.

      Expect former leader Elizabeth May and the only other Green MP, Paul Manly, to stay close to their ridings, too, as they hope to survive on their name recognition and reputations in B.C. There will be no real national Green campaign, unlike in 2019.

      The best hope for the Greens is if there's a very high-profile climate-related weather catastrophe shortly before voting day. Where's Superstorm Sandy when you need her? It saved Obama's butt in the 2012 presidential election.