The Liberal government gives every signal that they intend to call an election in late summer or early autumn with the goal of converting their minority into a majority. One such sign was the announcement of federal money on July 9 for the extension of the Skytrain in BC in Surrey and Langley, which is aimed at shoring up existing Liberal ridings while targeting narrowly held Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) constituencies such as South Surrey-White Rock and Cloverdale-Langley City.
As soon as a party finds itself in a minority, it immediately begins scheming how to restore its majority. The Liberals appear quite confident that they will be succussful, so we should take the prospect of an early vote seriously. One reason for the early call is to avoid clashing with municipal elections in Quebec.
The published public opinion polls suggest a majority may well be in the offing. While the Liberals and other parties read these surveys with interest, what matters are the private polls that the governing party has no doubt been conducting in marginal constituencies and regions. The Liberals won 157 seats in 2019 and need just 13 more for a bare majority. There are twenty or so that the Liberals lost very narrowly last time, around a third of them in Quebec.
Polling has transformed in the past ten years from standard telephone surveys where when one answers the phone and speaks to a person, to a variety of methods, predominantly surveys conducted online among panels (people who have agreed to answer surveys by email, sometimes for a reward), but also surveys conducted by a computer where you hear a recorded voice and answer the questions by punching the numbers on a the telephone pad. While they work fairly well on the whole, there can be errors. For example, mostly online polling missed the outcome of the 2013 BC election.
In the 2019 election the regional results in Alberta of the national polls conducted immediately prior to election day generally underestimated the Conservative total in that province by about 10 points. As it turned out the Conservatives were so far ahead in Alberta that it did not matter in terms of seats. There is some evidence from south of the border that some on the political right are reluctant to answer polls and distrust them as a consequence of a more general distrust of institutions. A repeat this time of errors on the Alberta 2019 scale could make a difference. Alberta now has an unpopular conservative provincial government that was newly elected then. If current polling is truly accurate, the CPC stand to lose seats in Calgary and Edmonton to both the Liberals and the NDP. I suspect that polling does under-estimate support on the right in Canada for various reasons including those emerging in the United States. The Conservatives could well do better than polls suggest but they nonetheless have deep problems.
Liberals: On the Cusp of a Majority?
A recent Nanos poll (available by subscription only) implies (by my method of converting poll results into seats) that the Liberals would win over 200 constituencies, while the most recent Abacus poll would yield a similar, slightly lower, seat count. However, the most recent Leger poll (page 8 on the link) presents a significant contrast; it implies that the Liberals would win just 158 seats, almost the same result as 2019.
The political right increasingly also does not appeal to younger voters and women. It is becoming a haven for cranky old men.
The NDP: Prospects for Growth
The party currently has a comparative video ad on their Facebook page extolling their accomplishments. In the polls cited above, the NDP would win as many as 41 seats, up from their current 24. One factor that is likely helping them right now is a comparative advantage over the other parties on the issue of indigenous rights.
The Greens: Prospect of Decline
Quebec and the fate of the Trudeau Liberals
As noted above, the Trudeau Liberals lost several seats in Quebec in 2019 by narrow margins to the BQ often in the three and four way splits that characterized voting there. They will be looking to get some back. That helps to explain some of their reticence to criticize a popular Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government in Quebec City, which recently made extensive use of the nothwithstanding clause in new language legislation, anathema to the traditional federalist English community in Quebec, and abhorrent to Justin Trudeau's father. We tend to think of Quebec as the province swept by one party and then another. In 2019 four parties won seats and for the first time since 1962 the party that won more seats than any other, the Liberals, who won 35, captured less than a majority of all the constituencies. Quebec is split several ways and that makes it less predictable.
Of course, none of this is really necessary; Canada's fixed election date legislation specifies the date for the next election as October 16, 2023.