Andrew Scheer says he thinks the Conservatives will “win big” on Monday, despite recent polls that show a virtual tie as the campaign enters the final days before the Oct. 21 vote.
National poll numbers from Nanos Research show the Conservatives and Liberals are essentially tied, but at numbers in the low 30s that suggest neither party has enough support to win the 170 seats required to form a majority government.
While campaigning in the Greater Toronto Area Thursday, Mr. Scheer told Newstalk 1010 radio host John Moore that the party’s internal polling shows more favourable prospects for his party.
“We have reasons to be very confident that we are going to not just win, but win big, and that we will have a strong mandate to govern this country,” Mr. Scheer said.
Political parties do not disclose internal polling results or methodology and it is a common tactic for parties to claim their private information shows momentum is on their side. Nonetheless, it is somewhat unusual for a party leader to talk in some detail about internal public opinion research.
“The internals give us a lot of reasons to be very optimistic,” said Mr. Scheer. “Instead of doing national polling, we really dive deep into target seats, the type of seats that decide whether you’re going to be prime minister. And we’ve basically polled exclusively in those types of ridings.”
“Are you going to be the prime minister?” Mr. Moore asked.
“We are going to win on Monday, yeah. I am very optimistic,” Mr. Scheer replied. “The numbers are very encouraging. There’s still a chunk of the electorate that is still undecided, still making up their mind and we believe we have the edge on the types of issues that they’re looking at. When we ask undecided voters what’s top of mind, it’s affordability. It’s cost of living. And we are the only party that’s kind of laser-focused on making life more affordable.”
The interview took place ahead of Mr. Scheer’s morning campaign event in Brampton. While speaking with reporters, Mr. Scheer said “modern” Canadian history shows that the party that wins the most seats is given the first opportunity to govern in a minority Parliament. Procedural experts have said the Parliamentary system does allow the current prime minister – in this case Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau – to test whether or not he can win a confidence vote in the House of Commons even if the Liberals do not win the most seats.
All party leaders were asked to speculate Thursday about potential minority Parliament situations in light of the latest poll numbers.
Mr. Trudeau repeatedly refused to address the topic when asked by reporters in Trois-Rivieres. Mr. Trudeau was campaigning for a second consecutive day in Quebec.
“We are focused on electing a strong Liberal government that is going to be able to continue the hard work of fighting against climate change and investing in families, and the choice is very very clear for Canadians,” he said. “Do we continue with a progressive government that is investing in Canadians, growing the economy and fighting against climate change, or do we go back to Stephen Harper’s austerity and cuts with a progressive opposition?”
In contrast, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said his party is open to several scenarios in a minority Parliament. He has previously ruled out supporting a minority Conservative government, but has left the door open to working with the Liberals.
During a campaign stop in Welland, Ont., Mr. Singh said a coalition is not a dirty word. This is the first time Mr. Singh has been firm on his position of the prospect of a coalition government. Generally, the term coalition is used to describe a formal agreement that involves members of the smaller party sitting in cabinet.
On Sunday Mr. Singh suggested that he was open to the idea if it meant keeping the Conservatives out of power, and then appeared to walk back the comments on Monday, telling reporters: “My focus is not on a coalition.”
But days before Canadians will cast their vote and as polls continue to show the Conservatives and the Liberals are in a statistical tie, Mr. Singh was firm.
“We know that when New Democrats are elected in big numbers, people win. That’s our message,” said Mr. Singh. “I’m not bogged down on what the details are — whatever Canadians choose, in any form, if you have New Democrats whether we’re in government — which I’d love to be in government — whether that’s in opposition, whether that’s working together with others, whether that’s in a coalition, whatever it is. I want Canadians to know if you vote New Democrat you get fighters, you get people on your side.”
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said he will handle a hung parliament on an issue-by-issue basis.
“If what is proposed is good for Quebec, I will vote for it. If not, I will vote against,” he said Thursday in Montreal.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is touring Vancouver Island Thursday, with stops in Nanaimo, Esquimalt, Saanich, and Victoria.
The tight race between the Liberal and Conservatives in the polls continues, according to Thursday’s daily tracking survey from Nanos Research, which had the Conservatives at 33 per cent of support of respondents and the Liberals at 32 per cent. The New Democrats were at 19 per cent, the Greens at 9 per cent, the Bloc Québécois at 6 per cent and the People’s Party at 2 per cent. The poll was sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CTV, with a total of 1,200 Canadians surveyed from Oct. 13, 15 and 16 (there was no polling on Thanksgiving Monday). It has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were asked: “If a federal election were held today, could you please rank your top two current local voting preferences?” A report on the results, questions and methodology for this and all surveys can be found at http://tgam.ca/election-polls.