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WELCOME TO OTTAWA PLAYBOOK. I’m your host, Nick Taylor-Vaisey. Today, protesters have taken over the narrative as they force the cancellation of a Trudeau event and force every leader to confront a campaign gone toxic. Also, when do you know a turning point is a turning point? And will DOUG FORD have an impact in the next few weeks?
FEAR AND LOATHING — Welcome to the ugliest federal campaign in recent memory. Protesters who oppose vaccinations, masks, lockdowns, and the prime minister who supported all of those Covid-era measures are now mainstays on JUSTIN TRUDEAU‘s campaign. JAGMEET SINGH has faced racism on the trail.
Protesters overwhelmed a Liberal event on Friday to such a degree that the party couldn’t guarantee the safety of the people in the room — and canceled it. Trudeau regrouped in a Brampton park where he spoke about the threatening protestors.
Not that the mob cared. They dogged Trudeau’s campaign yesterday in Cambridge, Ont., where they yelled obscenities about the Liberal leader (warning: foul language). Liberal campaign signs are on the receiving end of shameless vandalism.
— Digital toxicity: The Samara Centre for Democracy has a bot named SAM analysing tweets received by incumbent candidates and party leaders. Of 350,000 #elxn44 tweets it has analysed, 7 percent were deemed “severely toxic.”
— Conservative MICHELLE REMPEL-GARNER: “In the last two weeks alone, I have had two men spot me on the street, jump out of a car with cameras, and chase after me down the street demanding I respond to conspiracy theories. And last night, while having dinner with my husband, I was accosted by a large man who aggressively approached us and cornered us at our table to do the same thing.
“For these individuals in these moments, I feel like they don’t see me as a human. In those moments, I also fear. This is on top of the barrage of online hate and defamation that is directed at me on a daily basis.”
— The Star’s RAISA PATEL: “I feel compelled to mention, with all the vitriol we’re now seeing across this country, that this was a particularly bad week for racialized journalists (particularly racialized women) on this platform [Twitter]. I have NEVER reported, muted and blocked so many racist and abusive tweets directed at myself, my colleagues and my friends.”
— ROB SILVER, senior VP at mortgage lender MCAP and spouse of Trudeau’s chief of staff, KATIE TELFORD: “PostMedia. The Rebel. The Proud dude. They’ve built entire business models off of this. It’s not an innocent byproduct of what they do. It’s the product they’re selling. And most of the rest of [the] press gallery in Ottawa laughed at Michael Wernick and have been complicit in this.”
— The CBC’s DAVID COCHRANE: “This is going to get uglier and uglier and uglier and uglier.”
STEPPING UP — Tory-hued digital strategist STEPHEN TAYLOR convened a fundraiser on Twitter Spaces for the Veterans Transition Network — which wants to help desperate Afghan interpreters find safe houses as they attempt to escape their country.
High-profile speakers included former interim Conservative leader RONA AMBROSE, LAUREEN HARPER, hockey legend HAYLEY WICKENHEISER, country star PAUL BRANDT, retired general DAVID FRASER, and big-time investor ARLENE DICKINSON. Also in the virtual room: TV personality AMBER MACARTHUR. former cabmins JAMES MOORE and TONY CLEMENT, and politicos JAMIE ELLERTON and SHUVALOY MAJUMDAR.
Speaking of Majumdar: The Harper-era staffer and Munk senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute quizzed Chretien-era Foreign Minister JOHN MANLEY, former CSIS director RICHARD FADDEN, and former diplomat-turned-immigration minister CHRIS ALEXANDER on what Canada should do next in Afghanistan. Watch that here.
OFFENSE VS DEFENSE — Where the party leaders choose to spend precious campaign time on a 36-day sprint to voting day tells a story about the confidence they have — or want to appear to have — in their team’s prospects.
Playbook is tracking each leader’s movements. When they hold events in ridings held by another party, they’re playing offense. When they’re on their own turf, that’s all defense.
— The first two weeks: Everybody’s on offense. Trudeau has visited enemy territory 64 percent of the time; O’Toole has spent entire days at his studio in Ottawa’s Westin, but is on offense 84 percent of the time when he gets out of the nation’s capital; Singh has only hosted a single event in an NDP-held riding — but even that was a play for a nearby Liberal-held riding in Hamilton.
— Flashback to 2019: O’Toole’s predecessor, ANDREW SCHEER, spent the first 14 days of the last campaign exclusively in Liberal and NDP ridings. Trudeau split his early tour between O and D; and Singh spent a quarter of his time on home soil. When they all woke up on E-Day, Scheer could count the number of CPC ridings he’d seen on one hand; Singh was on the defensive only about one-third of the time; and Trudeau, battling back after a blackface scandal, held 54 percent of his events in Liberal districts.
STATE OF PLAY — GERRY BUTTS, Trudeau’s former principal secretary, sets the scene for what comes next:
“Where does it all end up? [Man shrugging emoji.] Campaigns matter and this one is totally up for grabs. The puck is loose in the corner. Who digs it out? Few things to watch for. 1. How do people react to the real prospect of a Conservative government? 2. Progressives loathe prog on prog violence. How will the Libs and NDP navigate this minefield? 3. Debates. They seldom matter as much as people think. This time they will.”
OH, THOSE DEBATES — POLITICO’s crack team of Canadians will watch every moment of the French and English debates on Sept. 8 and 9. We’ll have a live chat packed with expert analysis, charts to watch, and the perfect balance of snarks and smarts. Stay tuned.
COVID WATCH — As a Delta-driven fourth wave of Covid hits the four biggest provinces and school-aged kids return to their classrooms, the pandemic could become a defining theme of the 2021 campaign.
Every day, we’ll update the most recent provincial data on Covid hospitalizations in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec. The change since the last update is in parentheses.
Ontario: 343 (+37)
Alberta: 336 (+19)
British Columbia: 159 (+10)
Quebec: 126 (+7)
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau starts with an 8:30 ET announcement in Granby, Quebec — a Bloc Québécois-held riding. Then he’s flying to Iqaluit, the first leader to do so.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole starts the week with an 11 ET announcement at Dog Tales Rescue & Sanctuary in King City, Ont. That’s senior minister DEB SCHULTE‘s riding. O’Toole will head to the Crystal Fountain Event Venue in Markham-Thornhill to meet supporters at 7. That’s trade minister MARY NG‘s riding. One day, two cabmins.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is at the Ottawa watering hole with arguably the best view of the city — that’s Tavern on the Hill — for a 9:30 ET announcement on taxing the ultra-rich. Then he’s off to Ladysmith, B.C., where New Democrats hope to boot Green incumbent PAUL MANLY from the House of Commons. Every meet-n-greet counts.
We’re collaborating with The Herle Burly on 2021 campaign coverage. DAVID HERLE, SCOTT REID and JENNI BYRNE tackle a key question each day. Find out more about them here.
Today: With less than a month to go, and polls bobbing around, surely there will be moments that seem like all-important “game changers.” But how do campaigns know when they’ve actually seen a pivotal turning point?
HERLE: Depends what you mean by “knowing.” Sometimes it’s immediate. Often you will see the potential for a turning point at the time, but the turn doesn’t happen for some days. Those in possession of detailed polling data will see the underlying attitudes about leaders or policies on which votes are based change before the votes do.
The impact of the protesters requires people to make certain connections. Which connections they make and what conclusions they draw will likely take a number of days.
REID: It’s a lot like getting drunk at your cousin’s wedding. Sometimes you feel it happening right away and you’re delighted because that’s exactly what you intended. Sometimes other people keep insisting that it’s happening but you refuse to believe them. And sometimes you only recognize it afterward when you wake up exhausted and you’ve got to change jobs.
BYRNE: No hard and fast rule about when you know if something really turns the worm. It’s not like love at first sight. Sometimes it happens on a dime, sometimes it never does — that’s the worst when you are counting on it.
I have always found the doors are a leading indicator. That’s why I kept in contact with candidates and ground teams daily when I ran campaigns. Candidates hear it at the doors before it starts to show in the polls.
Listen for the daily edition of the Herle Burly panel’s campaign pod. Nick Taylor-Vaisey kicks things off each morning with lively banter and keen insight. Subscribe to Curse of Politics here.
Each day throughout the campaign, DAVID COLETTO from our polling partner Abacus Data is sharing a data point on the 2021 campaign. In the spotlight today: The Ford factor.
Will Ontario Premier Doug Ford influence the election?
Ontarians still harbor ill will, but his favorables are higher this time than in 2019. Ford is not the most popular premier in the country, but he’s not as much of a lightning rod. Thirty-four percent of Ontarians have a positive view of Ontario’s premier versus 43 percent who have a negative view.
At this point in the 2019 campaign, 23 percent had a positive view while 59 percent who viewed him negatively.
The new numbers suggest he still might cause the Conservatives some headaches, especially if back-to-school and the pandemic gets worse and the provincial government is seen as mishandling some aspects of it.
For information about this survey, including the methodology follow this link.
— States press forward on vax passports without Biden’s guidance
— Business leaders and lawmakers plead with Biden to reopen border to Canadians
— Covid-19 origins still murky after Biden administration’s 90-day investigation
— Thirteen U.S. troops killed in ISIS attacks on Kabul airport
— “Conversations on the Rez, or in particular my Rez, are more or less silent on the election,” DREW HAYDEN TAYLOR writes for Global News. “There’s not much being discussed, as I’ve noticed. We’ve danced this dance before. Many times. In our language, we call this time the Moon of Many Promises.”
— Speaking of promises, “platforms aren’t just for fun,” the CBC’s AARON WHERRY writes in a Sunday-morning Twitter thread.
— The Citizen’s TAYLOR BLEWETT compared housing policies with analysis from the Conference Board of Canada, the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and Carleton’s Centre for Urban Research and Education. (h/t JIM BAGNALL)
— The Writ’s ÉRIC GRENIER considers how the electoral map is changing. “Atlantic Canada, which was supposed to have been a Liberal lock, has suddenly become much more important for both parties. The Liberals were counting on 28 seats or so out of the region. Now, they might need to put in an extra effort to hold on to what they have.” To that end, this piece from CP’s MICHAEL MACDONALD might explain a lot.
— STEPHANIE WOOD and MELISSA RENWICK report from Tofino for the Narwhal: How Clayoquot Sound’s war in the woods transformed a region.
— In The Conversation, Simon Fraser’s AHMED AL-RAWI makes the case that Facebook should drop the word “integrity’ from its Canadian Election Integrity Initiative.
Birthdays: HBD to Cape Bretoner MARK EYKING. The farmer and former Liberal MP is 61 today. … Former Liberal cabinet ministers ALLAN ROCK (74) and DAN BOUDRIA (72) celebrate today. … Journalist, author and playwright RICK SALUTIN is 79. Here’s his latest in the Star. … Former B.C. Conservative MP RANDY KAMP is 68.
Spotted: ARIF VIRANI courting the fairy vote in Parkdale-High Park and LEAH GAZAN voting early in Winnipeg Centre. Follow this link for details on your voting options. Tween podcaster WYATT SHARPE gets a question to Trudeau. … MARK CARNEY, with a new profile photo, counting down to COP26.… Global’s DAVID AKIN, newly shorn: “Number 4 razor all over; number 3 on the sides.”
Movers and shakers: The NDP’s RUTH ELLEN BROSSEAU, up and running in Berthier-Maskinongé, a seat she’s won twice. “I have so much respect for anybody who runs in politics, who puts their name on a ballot, has lawn signs, participates in debates and shares their vision of Quebec and Canada,” she told the Gazette. To that, we say: Ditto. “I’m a fan,” Former Conservative cabinet minister LISA RAITT tweeted as she shared news of Brosseau’s return.
Facebook’s KEVIN CHAN adds “senior” to his title as global director and head of public policy for Canada. … ADAM YAHN and DANIEL PERRY are newly lobbying for PointsBet, an online gaming company that launched Canadian operations after single-sports betting became law. … BLISS BAKER is repping bar-code company Zebra Technologies, which is keeping an eye on Covid procurement policy.
Farewells: PIERRE BOURQUE died on the weekend. Ottawa Mayor JIM WATSON shared the news, noting: “Pierre was a great entrepreneur, journalist and served on city council in the 90s.”
ASK US ANYTHING
What is happening? Questions about the campaign? Send them our way.
— Our question to you: “Is it me or is requesting a mail in ballot from @ElectionsCan_E …. super involved?” a noted pollster asked over the weekend on Twitter. “Wondering how many ppl have tried and given up, and how this will affect mail-in voting rates + overall turnout.”
We know via Abacus that some six million Canadians have indicated they plan to vote by mail. We’d love to know about your experience so far and will share your responses later this week. Mail us here.
Last week first: We asked which city you thought would net the fewest leader visits between the federal leaders. The options were Montreal, Calgary, Halifax and Hamilton.
46.2 percent of you correctly guessed Calgary, which scored no face time with federal leaders over the past seven days. Trudeau spent a morning in Halifax. Singh stopped in Montreal. And every leader made time for Hamilton in just a two-day stretch.
This week: We’re flipping the question. Which area code — 905, 604, 418 or 902 — do you think will net the most leader visits this week? Vote here.
Answer to Friday’s question: “Oh, I’m newly calibrated. All shiny and clean. I’m your recent adaptation. Time to redefine me …” STEPHEN HARPER used Better Now by Collective Soul as a campaign theme song.
Nice work, STUART LAING, BEN ROTH, BOB GORDON and MICHAEL MACDONALD.
Today’s question: Who was the first baby boomer to be elected prime minister?
Send your answers to [email protected]
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Thanks to Luiza Ch. Savage, editor Sue Allan, Zi-Ann Lum and Andy Blatchford.