2021 Canadian election last-half log, II : watching close polls while waiting for debates (and wondering “reconciliation”)

Sep 7th, 2021 | By | Category: In Brief

COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS, GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. TUESDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 2021. [UPDATED SEPTEMBER 8]. As has been the case for a while now, Philippe Fournier’s 338Canada and Éric Grenier’s CBC Poll Tracker agree that the O’Toole Conservatives are a few percentage points ahead of the Trudeau Liberals in cross-Canada popular vote.

(338 Canada Sep 7, pop vote – CON 34%, LIB 32%, NDP 20%, BQ 6%, PPC 4%, GRN 3% ; CBC Poll Tracker Sep 7, pop vote – CON 34%, LIB 31%, NDP 20%, BQ 6%, PPC 4%, GRN 4%.)

At the same time 338Canada continues to give the Conservatives seven more seats in the Canadian House of Commons than the Liberals (for a Conservative minority government). But CBC Poll Tracker gives the Liberals seven more seats than the Conservatives – for another if still more slender Liberal minority government, leaning on the NDP.

(338Canada Sep 7 update, seats – CON 142, LIB 135, NDP 34, BQ 25, GRN 2 ; CBC Poll Tracker Sep 7 update, seats – LIB 140, CON 133, NDP 37, BQ 27, GRN 1.)

At the same time again, Nanos Daily Ballot Tracking for September 7 has the Liberals ahead – LIB 34.1%, CON 32.0%, NDP 20.9%, GRN 4.6%, BQ 4.0%, PPC 3.8%.

The great debates

The big action tomorrow night (Wednesday, September 8) is the second (or major/mainstream) French debate on TV – sponsored by CTV News, CBC News and Radio-Canada, APTN News, Global News, L’actualité, Les coops de l’information, Le Devoir, Noovo Info, and La Presse. It will air 8PM–10PM EDT (5—7PM PDT).

The big action the night after that (Thursday, September 9) is the first and only English debate, sponsored by the same group. For better or worse, English Canada is more strongly tilted west than French Canada. And this debate will air 9PM– 11PM EDT (6—8PM PDT).

“Reconciliation” as a debate issue

Both debates will cover five topics. The fifth topic in the English debate will be “reconciliation” with Indigenous Canadians. And the French debate will cover a parallel subject. Back on July 13 our commentator from the Kawartha wilderness here in Southern Ontario was wondering “Is a federal election in Canada coming soon (and will ‘reconciliation with Indigenous people’ be a key theme)?”

It is no doubt not altogether surprising that Indigenous reconciliation has not in fact figured in the actual 2021 short snap campaign so far in any large way. The sponsoring “Debate Broadcast Group” should be applauded for including it in the English and French TV debates. Apart from any higher virtue, it could be constructive and even interesting to watch the five party leaders debate a challenging issue about which none of us can plead perfection – from federal to provincial to municipal to indigenous leaders to all we ordinary Non-Indigenous and Indigenous voters on the streets and old concession roads, by the lakes and forests, and on and on.

Indigenous voting … yes or no?

At least one part of the larger problem is provocatively covered by a recent article at TimminsToday.com, headlined “Many eligible Indigenous voters struggle with whether or not they will go to the polls.”

Mainstream Indigenous organizations like the Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women’s Association are actually making serious efforts to increase Indigenous voting in the 2021 election. Younger Indigenous activists and their admirers, however, have reservations. In the TimminsToday.com article writer Shari Narine talks about all this with “Courtney Skye, research fellow with the Indigenous think-tank the Yellowhead Institute” and “Niigaan Sinclair, an assistant professor in Native Studies at the University of Manitoba.”

Ms. Skye explains that voting for some Indigenous people today is a “contentious issue.” Mr. Sinclair elaborates on the general theory : “The issue is, do you vote for your own oppression? Because Canada is a state that is invested and continues to be invested in the oppression of Indigenous peoples, the suppression of Indigenous rights and the denial of those rights in every aspect of the country.”

Whatever else, the mainstream Indigenous leaders at the AFN and the Native Women’s Association and so forth understand that “every aspect of the country” here is not quite right. Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, eg, makes clear that : “The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.” So, it can also be argued, the more Indigenous people vote in federal and provincial elections (often enough now for other Indigenous people), the better things will be for all Indigenous peoples. And Canada. And so forth.

On not holding your breath

As best we can tell from our travels Courtney Skye and Niigaan Sinclair are nonetheless speaking for growing numbers of Indigenous young people (sometimes on or close to sometimes remote reserves?) who do not feel connected to Canada and what the Constitution Act, 1982 also alludes to as our modern “free and democratic society” in any way.

It would be interesting if the five party leaders wound up debating this side of the broader reconciliation issue, even for just a few minutes. But we certainly aren’t holding our breath. Meanwhile, we’ll be watching whatever does happen in the two debates – and in the ongoing flurry of intriguing opinion polls! With less than two weeks till election day. And a still close race that might still bring a surprising result …

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 8. Indigenous issues were not covered in any serious depth in the French debate. Much attention focused on whether at least some Indigenous languages should become “official” in the way French and English are now. Meanwhile, both 338Canada and CBC Poll Tracker are still reporting Conservatives slightly ahead of Liberals in Canada-wide popular vote. But today’s 338Canada update has now joined CBC Poll Tracker in reporting Liberals slightly ahead of Conservatives in seats in the House. (Though in this case by just one seat : CBC Poll Tracker for September 8 is still reporting Liberals with seven more seats than Conservatives!)

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