The party leaders and the world stage | CBC News

Day 19: Who will represent Canada to the world and what will they say?

Vassy Kapelos, host of Power & Politics

A piece in Time Magazine caught my eye recently. 

No, not that piece. One by political scientist Ian Bremmer, built around an interview he conducted with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau about Canada's place in a fast-changing world. 

Bremmer had to go back and update the article after those pictures of Trudeau in blackface emerged. How might those images affect Trudeau personally, and Canada's reputation around the world, given the international coverage of the incident?

"When this kind of a scandal comes out, I mean, in some ways I think it has more of an impact internationally than it does domestically in Canada," Bremmer told us last week on Power & Politics.

"Because the contrast between him and the American politicians, the perception [of that contrast] was so great."

The world has definitely changed since the last federal election in 2015. Increasingly, it feels like Canadian values are being defined by the gap between them and the values embodied by populists like U.S. President Donald Trump or his ideological cousins in the U.K. and other European countries. 

So how will those 'Canadian values' be communicated on the global stage after the election?

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh addresses supporters as he makes a campaign stop in Nanaimo, B.C. on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan (The Canadian Press)

Hard to say. Beyond Jagmeet Singh joking about Trump's prospective impeachment, foreign policy has not been a factor in this campaign at all. 

Why talk about China when we can talk about home renos and camping, right? 

I'm being facetious, of course. Domestic policy matters a lot in any general election campaign - but it's hard not to notice how little foreign affairs has factored into the campaign chatter.

That could change after the leaders' debates begin this week, even though a planned debate specifically on foreign policy was cancelled when Trudeau said he wouldn't attend. And there's always the possibility of a world event taking over and forcing leaders to take policy positions that could affect the overall election results. The eruption of the global refugee crisis during the 2015 comes to mind.

But there are some basic questions about the parties' approaches to foreign policy that need answering during the campaign itself.

The Liberals promise to pursue trading arrangements that allow Canada to rely less on exports to the U.S. But with Canada-China diplomatic relations in the deep freeze, where else can we go?

The Conservatives say they want a 'total reset' of Canada's relationship with China. What would that look like, and how would it secure the release of those two detained Canadians?

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh joked about how he'd like to see Trump impeached last week. How might that affect an NDP-led government's interaction with our biggest trading partner?

Greens Party Leader Elizabeth May says Canada needs to re-examine its engagement with NATO. How would they handle that and what would they do about the blowback from our allies?

Spoiler alert: we'll be talking about it this week on P&P. I know it's not as sexy as a tax cut, but our position in the world isn't unimportant and the people vying to represent us should be telling us — clearly and candidly — what they think that position should be.

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Power Lines

The Power & Politics Power Panelists on where the big parties will be focused this week

Kathleen Monk  principal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group

New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh will go face-to face with Justin Trudeau in the first French debate of the election campaign this week. The NDP has released a new series of ads that target the Liberal leader and Wednesday's debate will be another venue where Singh will take sharper aim at Trudeau's record.

Rachel Curran  senior associate at Harper & Associates Consulting

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will be focused next week on making more targeted announcements to voters he needs to win, following his larger tax reduction announcements. His schedule is likely to slow a little as the first leaders' debate approaches on Wednesday. 

Amanda Alvaro  president and co-founder of Pomp & Circumstance

The Liberals will continue laying out their plan for moving Canada forward with an emphasis on tackling climate change, building the economy and improving Canadians' quality of life. They will also highlight how Justin Trudeau was the first leader to have visited every province, touching on affordability issues as one of the hallmarks of the campaign.

Poll Tracker Takeaway 

Éric Grenier's weekly look at key numbers in the political public opinion polls. 

The Bloc Québécois might be making a move in this campaign.

It's a small move, but in a race that has seen support for the Conservatives and Liberals budge little more than a single percentage point back and forth nationwide, it could have big implications.

Since the beginning of the campaign, the Bloc's support in the Poll Tracker has increased by about two percentage points in Quebec. That's not much, but it has put it about even with the Conservatives in the province (and still well behind the Liberals).

It has lifted the Bloc's seat range to a point where it could limit the Liberals' chances of winning the ridings they need in Quebec to secure re-election.

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But if the Bloc continues its (slow) ascent (leader Yves-François Blanchet will get a big platform in Wednesday's French-language TVA debate), which party would suffer most?

According to a Léger/Le Devoir poll published this week, the Bloc's support base comes from across the spectrum. Asked to name their second party choice, those backing the Bloc split into roughly equal groups behind the Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats and Greens.

But that's just among the voters currently backing the Bloc. Future gains for the party, if any, are likely to come disproportionately from the Liberals and Conservatives. For every 100 voters the Bloc picks up, Léger's second-choice data suggests about 42 of them would come from the Liberals and 33 from the Conservatives. The rest would come from the other parties.

The seat impact, however, would primarily be the Liberals' to bear.

According to the Poll Tracker's seat projection model, a gain of one point for the Bloc could flip four seats over to them from the Liberals. A gain of five points would lower the Liberals' seat ceiling in Quebec by 10. It would only lower the Conservatives' ceiling by one.

That's the danger Blanchet poses to the Liberals. If the Bloc continues its forward momentum, the Liberals could find their path to another majority government … blocked.

Tap here to go to the full poll tracker 

(Eric Grenier/CBC)

Ask CBC News

You asked: Must the Governor General remain in Canada during the campaign?

There is nothing formal saying Gov. Gen. Julie Payette must stay in the country throughout the election. But her office says the Governor General "always remains available throughout the election period."

If she is travelling, this means she would be able to fly back to Ottawa from wherever she is should an issue arise.

Each week until election day, we'll be rounding up your questions and answering some in articles like this one. If you've got questions, send Haydn an email at He'll try his very best to get you an answer — or include it in a future article. He's cleared his inbox of past questions now, so he's awaiting yours.

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