Justin Trudeau was re-elected

When Justin Trudeau took office four years ago, he was hailed as a savior. His image has been cracked numerous times - and his re-election is by no means certain

As planned, the Canadian Prime Minister dissolved parliament and thus started the election campaign. Now Justin Trudeau has to explain to Canadians why he deserves a second term - despite several scandals.

While the election campaign in neighboring USA spans a year and a half, it is pleasantly short in Canada: according to the constitution, the Prime Minister has to dissolve the House of Commons 36 to 50 days before the scheduled election date. It has been certain for months that this will be October 21; therefore in the past few days there has only been speculation about whether the prime minister would choose the long or short end of the time window.

In the end, it is now almost six weeks that Justin Trudeau remains to convince the voters of a second term for his Liberal Party; on Wednesday he officially dissolved Parliament in Ottawa. But the scandals of the past few months weigh heavily on the former hope of the liberals. With the promise of a breath of fresh air, the then 43-year-old Trudeau catapulted the party to the top of government in 2015. Thanks to his well-known family name - his father Pierre Trudeau was Canadian Prime Minister from 1968 to 1984 (with a brief interruption) - the Liberals gained 148 seats (since then they have lost seven again). It was the clearest party's gain in Canadian history.

Currently Trudeau's Liberals are in the majority

Seats in the Canadian House of Commons; Majority from 170 seats
Conservative Party of Canada (CDC)
New Democratic Party (NDP)

But after four years, several scandals weigh on the self-declared clean man: he still owes the fulfillment of his promise to reform the electoral system, despite a comfortable majority. Shortly after taking office, the Trudeaus were invited to vacation on the private island of the businessman Aga Khan. On a business trip to India, Trudeau brought his wife and three children with him, all of whom dressed in bright matching robes like in a Bollywood film; the hosts found it ridiculous and Canada fell into shame. Even Trudeau's internationally acclaimed cabinet, which consisted of 50 percent women and members of several ethnic minorities, collapsed like a house of cards; several ministers accused him of not taking them seriously and resigned.

The affair surrounding the Canadian construction company SNC Lavalin, which became public in February, broke the barrel: Trudeau had put pressure on Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould in favor of construction giant SNC Lavalin from his home province of Québec to bring criminal proceedings into the company for corruption To spare Libya. When Wilson-Raybould refused to reduce the affair to a fine, she was first demoted to another cabinet post and then expelled from the party; likewise another minister who resigned out of solidarity. In mid-August, an ethics committee also confirmed Trudeau's misconduct. To make matters worse, Wilson-Raybould belongs to the indigenous population; this resented the prime minister anyway for voting for a controversial oil pipeline through Indian territory.

Conservatives sense their chance

His challengers sense their chance in Trudeau's scandals. The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) around its top man Andrew Scheer has been putting its finger in the wound of SNC Lavalin at every opportunity for months. Scheer lobbied for early elections, which Trudeau was able to avert. Thanks to the scandal, the CPC rose to be the most popular party in polls in the spring; many commentators already saw Scheer as the new prime minister.

The two smaller parties also benefited from the scandal: the New Democratic Party (NDP) around its chairman Jagmeet Singh, who is politically left of the Liberals, and the Green Party around chairwoman Elizabeth May.

In polls, the two are far behind the Conservatives and Liberals, but should the two big parties fail to achieve a clear majority, the NDP or the Greens could play kingmakers.

Good timing for Trudeau

For Trudeau, however, the fact that the SNC Lavalin scandal was already six months ago could pay off. According to the latest poll by the Ipsos Institute on August 20, conservatives and liberals are now almost on par again.

Head-to-head racing in Canada

Survey from August 20, 2019, figures in percent

A tie could actually mean victory for the Liberals, reports Canadian news channel Global News. Given how Liberal voters are distributed across the country, some models suggest that the party could win a majority of the seats in the House of Commons even if it had a minority of votes.

The exciting question is how Trudeau will try in the coming weeks to lure his base to the polls. In contrast to 2015, the incumbent can no longer present himself as the new, young face of politics; the challengers Scheer and Singh are both seven years younger than Trudeau. A strategy that he has been using again and again for months is to distinguish himself at the expense of the universally unpopular American president by comparing himself directly with him - according to the motto: Look, Canadians, how much better you are.

The economy is booming

The good economic situation could also have a positive effect for Trudeau; unemployment fell to its lowest level in June, 5.4 percent. The Liberals started in 2015 with the promise to cut taxes and generate economic growth for the middle class.

The populous provinces of Québec and Ontario will be decisive; In the former, the Liberals are clearly ahead of the Conservatives in polls with 19 percentage points. Citizens in Québec apparently thank their prime minister for campaigning for the local SNC Lavalin group to save jobs. The fact that Trudeau relies entirely on this basis in his francophone homeland also indicates that he surprisingly agreed to participate in two television debates in French, but only one in English.

In any case, the elections are likely to become the verdict on the person of the prime minister. He has to be measured against the expectations he set himself four years ago. The Canadian news magazine Macleans wrote that Trudeau was not only to blame for the fact that he failed to actually be different from his predecessors, but also for the fact that he had promised to be.