GRAVENHURST, Ontario – When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's image as a liberal reformer collapsed during Canada's national elections, an opportunity opened up for competing leftist parties to attract dissatisfied voters.
But as the campaign reaches its final week, it's not quite like that.
The prime minister and his Liberal Party are locked in a neck-and-neck dispute with the Conservative Party, according to most polls, with fewer voters looking at the other options, both left and right. Many may not even vote.
In 2015, when Trudeau was first elected, there was a lot of enthusiasm for his party, said Jon H. Pammett, a professor of political science at Carleton University. "This time there is not much enthusiasm for either party or any of the leaders," he said.
The likely effect, Pammett said, is that many people simply cannot vote.
If voter turnout is low, it could hurt Trudeau. And if neither their liberals nor conservatives are able to secure the majority of seats in the House of Commons, smaller parties could end up in a powerful position, even if they do not get many seats themselves.
Trudeau took office four years ago promising a more open approach to politics in Canada, which he called "sunny ways." His image, however, was severely damaged this year when his former justice minister and attorney general, an indigenous woman, accused him of intimidating her while pressuring her on how to handle a criminal case.
More recently, the revelation of his blackface and brownface photographs has soured many voters.
Analysts say a large number of Trudeau voters are unlikely to turn to conservatives. Nor do they seem to be handing over large numbers to the Green Party, which focuses on the environment and has gotten support well below 10%.
The New Democratic Party, which has historically been to the left of Trudeau's liberals, suffered a shock in support. But it falls far short of the dramatic rise in personal approval ratings of its charismatic leader, Jagmeet Singh, the first non-white person to lead a large political party in Canada.
Before the campaign officially began in September, the stars seemed aligned for the Green Party and Elizabeth May, its widely respected leader.
Concern about climate change has been high in several surveys in Canada. And while Trudeau has introduced several important measures to mitigate climate change – notably a national carbon tax policy – for many people who have been sidelined for their decision to spend $ 4.9 billion on an Alberta oil pipeline. to the pacific coast.
May introduced herself to Canadians as the only leader with policies and a commitment to accelerate Canada's climate change actions. As the only woman to lead a party in Canada, it was widely assumed that she would receive votes from women disturbed by Trudeau's conflict earlier this year with her former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Still, the Green Party has been steadily falling in the polls since its spring peak. While Canadians say they care about climate change, May's plan can be overwhelming, implemented too quickly for voters.
In a country with large oil and gas exports, it proposes to completely eliminate fossil fuels by 2050 and suggested that Alberta's sands, a major source of employment, could be destroyed within a decade. In an attempt to offset concerns over jobs and economic losses, May has ambitious plans to transition oil and gas workers to new jobs, but this is not universally viewed as realistic.
Other parts of its platform also appear to be out of sync with leftist voters.
Like Trudeau's opponents on his right, May is an advocate of a balanced budget, a cornerstone of the conservative platform, and a strategy that many voters see as a transparent code for cuts. However, it also moves in the opposite political direction, enacting corporate control over the government and promoting expanded social programs.
May was also bothered by some gaffes. There was an awkward moment last month when it emerged that a party aide had manipulated a photograph to replace a disposable glass in May's hand with a reusable one with a metal palette and a Green Party logo.
And when she tried to take a zero-emission vehicle to a campaign stop in Gravenhurst, Ontario, a quaint summer town north of Toronto, her arrival was delayed considerably; the Tesla Model X carrying it and some of its aides needed an unexpected recharge stop along the way.
May's message to voters was to elect enough green members of parliament to deny Trudeau's control of the House of Commons liberals.
In this scenario, the Greens and other smaller parties would maintain the balance of power, possibly including the Bloc Québécois, a party dedicated to separating from Quebec. It is running for candidates only in that province and is, according to research, undergoing a resurgence.
May also does not rule out making a deal with the Conservatives and their leader, Scheer.
"It is very important that we do not undermine election results and do not take difficult and fast positions," she said recently, before attending a demonstration at an old boat museum. “If we want Parliament to work. You talk to everyone.
Singh does not share this view.
In August, after Liberals released a video of Scheer talking about same-sex marriage 15 years ago, Singh said the new Democrats would not support any conservative minority government that may emerge from this election.
It was one of several actions that help change Mr. Singh's public perception. Former Ontario provincial politician, Singh was little known in the rest of the country. During his tenure as leader of the national party, he appeared misinformed and prone to errors.
But two events during the campaign dramatically changed this perception. He has been an expert in debates in the French and English languages. Most important was your widely praised answer after it was shown last month that Trudeau wore a brown or black face on several occasions.
But the consequences have done more to boost Singh's approval ratings than his party's.
Insisting that she "is not in competition" with Singh's new Democrats, May said they share a common problem: Liberals telling voters that voting in any of the smaller parties opens the door to a conservative government, something Trudeau did in the past. Saturday night in a suburb of Toronto.
"The reality is that voting will be divided in so many ways that we are likely to have a minority parliament," she said. "And in a minority parliament, what you really need are basically green people who are more committed to getting government action."