By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Canada’s federal election got underway Wednesday and according to early polls, the two leading parties are in virtually a dead heat.
The Canadian government runs in virtually the same manner as the UK and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 47, asked Governor General Julie Payette to dissolve Parliament Wednesday to free the 338 elected members to campaign in their ridings (home districts where they are elected).
The 40-day campaign will culminate on voting day, Oct. 21.
In the running are six political parties – Trudeau’s governing Liberals, Andrew Scheer’s Progressive Conservatives, Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats (NDP), Elizabeth May’s Green Party, Yves-Francois Blanchet’s Bloc Quebecois, and Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada.
Realistically, the battle will be between the traditional rivals, the Liberals and the Conservatives, the only two parties that have formed the federal government.
The leaders will criss-cross the country, spelling out their main issues to 37 million Canadians.
Trudeau was first elected convincingly in 2015 and he had a message for Canadians and the world when he said just after the election: “We’re back.”
His popularity soared as the handsome, well dressed and debonair former teacher won accolades and hearts around the world.
But that eroded somewhat, at least in Canada, as the SNC Lavalin scandal, where Trudeau allegedly broke guidelines to interfere in judicial proceedings on behalf of the company, dropped the Liberals in the polls.
Scheer wasted no time Wednesday as he dragged out the controversy just after the election was called, pointing out that Trudeau may have limited the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation through potential obstruction of justice.
While another public poll found that the Liberals and Conservatives were virtually tied, Nick Nanos, head of Nanos Research, said his poll shows the Liberals have edged ahead. According to the poll, the Liberals are sitting at 34.6 percent, while the others are: Conservatives, 30.7 percent, NDP 16.6 percent, Greens 11 per cent, Block Quebecois four percent and the People’s Party at one percent.
“We’ve got a tight race,” Nanos said.
The Liberals had 177 seats when Parliament was dissolved and the Conservatives 95, the NDP 39, Bloc Quebecois 10, Green two. The People’s Party is new.