Renowned pollster sees minority government
Angus Reid shares insights and observations
A Salt Spring Forum audience had access to the man whose name is synonymous with polling in Canada at an event at ArtSpring on Saturday night.
Angus Reid’s prediction for the Oct. 21 election? A minority government of one hue or another, with a Liberal-NDP-Green coalition a not unlikely scenario.
Reid said the Conservatives could get the highest popular vote, but that many of those votes are “wasted” due to their concentration in areas like Alberta and Saskatchewan. However, he said no matter how he “spins the numbers,” he doesn’t see a clear path for either the Conservatives or the Liberals to win a majority government.
And if the Conservatives have the most seats but not the 170 required for a majority, Reid asked, “Who is going to support [leader Andrew Scheer]? The Bloc Quebecois?”
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has stated unequivocally that his party would not form a coalition with the Conservatives.
Reid pointed out that a high turn-out of voters under the age of 35 is what gave the Liberal party and leader Justin Trudeau their majority government in 2015. Some 64 per cent of eligible-to-vote young people went to the polls in 2015, as opposed to only 50 per cent in 2011. He said it seems unlikely the under-35 crowd will support the Liberals to the same level this time.
“Turn-out, at the end of the day, is going to be what determines this election.”
Responding to an audience member’s statement that people’s support for certain parties tends to be immovable, Reid said that about 50 per cent of Canadians say they haven’t yet made up their mind about which way they will vote on Oct. 21. Conservative party support is much more solid, he said, with more movement across Liberal-NDP-Green lines.
“The only thing that’s interesting in this election . . . is the turnout rate for the under-35 voters and what’s going to happen with the Greens and the NDP,” he concluded.
He observed that Canadian society is “totally divided” these days. Canadians over the age of 55 — and especially males — and the under-35 Millennials having diametrically opposed world views.
“I am appalled and dumbstruck by how divided we are . . . .” he said.
Reid was critical of present-day election coverage, noting that the collapse of the mass media as his generation has known it has resulted in far less in-depth investigation of issues, and too much time spent on peripheral matters.
Prompted by the audience, he agreed that while climate change is consistently in the #1 or #2 slot of Canadians’ concerns, the parties are generally having difficulty articulating their positions on it.
“There is no consensus on the route to follow.”
Acknowledging the riding he was speaking in, Reid noted that Elizabeth May is “the most popular politician in this country right now,” adding that it “isn’t saying a lot” due to the general unpopularity of politicians.
“We really do have a leadership crisis in this country,” he said. “One of the real issues with that is that we have a tradition that our prime minister must be bilingual.”
That excludes between 80 and 85 per cent of Canadians from vying for the job.