What Will It Take to Get Your Vote in October?


With the storm recovery underway in Atlantic Canada and suitable congratulations offered to Bianca Andreescu for making Canadian sports history at the U.S. Open, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the required trip to Rideau Hall this week to launch the federal election.

Along with my colleague Dan Bilefsky, I’ve already been traveling around and speaking with people for election stories. Based on that experience, I think it’s fair to say that the start of Mr. Trudeau’s bid for a return to office wasn’t greeted with the same sort of enthusiasm that met Ms. Andreescu after she became the first Canadian to win a grand slam tournament. It’s long been my reporting experience that among the few things that many Canadians grumble about more than their governments are the election campaigns that allow them to change those governments.

But that doesn’t mean that elections are a meaningless exercise in cross-country sound bite presentations, political jingles, selfie posing and mutual finger-pointing. Canadian elections have been a time when the country has reached a verdict on important issues — the “free trade” election of 1998 — or a period that’s shaped how they view parties and their leaders. The New Democratic Party under Jack Layton surprised everyone in 2011 with its unprecedented success in Quebec and its rise to become official opposition. And it’s important to note that few observers were predicting in 2015 that Mr. Trudeau would emerge as prime minister by the end.

Right now, I’m not paying too much attention to the polls that show Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals more or less tied with the Conservatives under Andrew Scheer. Aside from the 2015 experience, when Mr. Trudeau started out in third place, the popular vote is not an ideal measurement. Remember that Mr. Trudeau’s majority in the House of Commons was produced by capturing just under 40 percent of the popular vote.

Space in this letter doesn’t permit getting into the near perpetual debate over Canada’s winner-take-all voting system, or Mr. Trudeau’s broken promise to change it. But that system does mean that power usually falls to the party that comes closest to that 40 percent mark in popular support.

So while the leaders of all major parties proclaim themselves as the champions of ordinary Canadians, or as the person best placed to stand up for the middle class, however that’s defined, their campaign strategies will also likely involve zeroing in on specific groups with narrow interests whose votes will be key to hitting that mark.

Who those people are and how the leaders will appeal to them will be one of the many things Dan and I will be reporting on between now and Oct. 21. We’ll also be looking into the campaign performances that do or don’t come to dominate the campaign. Our aim is to do so in-depth, so we won’t be part of the traveling campaign circuses sending daily reports while having our minds numbed by the endless loop of stump speeches.

Keeping with that approach, we didn’t write a story this week about what everyone knew: that the election had been called and will be held on Oct. 21. Opinion, which is a separate world from where I work in News, did publish an analysis of Mr. Trudeau’s situation by Drew Fagan, a former political journalist who is now a professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.

[Read: Justin Trudeau’s Gloomy Re-election Prospects]

And as Election Day draws near, look for special editions of the The Canada Letter in your inbox.

We also want your help. Please send us a note, ideally with your full name and where you live, about what will determine your vote this year, to nytcanada@nytimes.com. We’re also interested in hearing from people who plan to stay at home on Oct. 21.

We may use a selection of edited comments in an upcoming newsletter.

And if you are among those people who are put off by election campaigns, be thankful that you live in Canada. The campaign will only last five-a-half weeks, a blink of the eye by the standards of U.S. presidential campaigns.

—One of the defining differences between Canada and the United States is a lack of specific protection for private property in its constitution. Christopher Flavelle, our Toronto-born-and-raised climate adaptation reporter, came to Gatineau, Quebec, to see how that and other factors allows Canadian governments to force homeowners off land that’s prone to floods.

—First came the Toronto Raptors with their N.B.A. championship, “We The North.” Now Bianca Andreescu has won the U.S. Open in tennis, “She The North.” David Waldstein met with the Canadians who were on hand to witness Canada’s second major sports triumph of the year. He also profiled Coco the poodle.

—Christine Hauser tells the story of how thousands of Canadians, some through tactics as simple as an elementary school summer fair, raised 3 million Canadian dollars that allowed the British Columbia Parks Foundation to buy 2,000 acres of the Princess Louisa Inlet, a glacier-carved gorge on that province’s Sunshine Coast.

—Travel has made its way to Prince Edward County, the area near Belleville, Ontario, that juts out into Lake Ontario.

—The Times’s fall preview includes the first Toronto Biennial of Art on its list of 28 shows worth taking a trip to see.

—Before going to university I wavered between written journalism and photojournalism. And when it came to the latter, few things inspired as much as “The Americans,” the seminal photodocumentary book by Robert Frank. Mr. Frank died this week near his summer home in Mabou, Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton. In an appreciation, Arthur Lubow wrote that “Robert Frank kicked documentary photography into the present with a loud clang.” Chester Higgins, a former staff photographer at The Times who is of African descent, wrote in an Opinion article that Mr. Frank “gave black people like myself the same decency and agency usually reserved for whites.” And nine contemporary photographers shared examples of their work that bear Mr. Frank’s influence.

—The people interviewed for Corner Office, a regular feature of Sunday Business, are usually executives or others associated with the business world. This week’s subject is someone with a very different background: Jane Goodall, the primatologist.

Source : Nytimes