Oh dear. For years Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been at pains to prove his feminist credentials. Whether it's correcting a woman for using the word 'mankind' or promising to turn a 'she-cession' into a 'she-covery,' the hereditary premier has done his damnedest to prove he's the wokest leader in all the West. But now Tudeau has unwittingly followed in the footsteps of one woman whose example he would not want to follow: another onetime embattled PM Theresa May.
A fortnight ago, Trudeau called a snap election to improve his precarious parliamentary majority but the move looks to have backfired spectacularly. Far from increasing his majority, Trudeau is now desperately trying to preserve it as his incumbent Liberals trail Erin O'Toole's Conservatives in the latest polls by aggregator 338Canada.com.
With less than three weeks until votes are counted, Trudeau's party is on 31.7 per cent of the national vote – two points behind the Canadian Tories on 33.9 per cent. This would give the two parties 134 and 146 seats respectively, in a system where 170 seats is required for an overall majority. Such a result would be seen as a rejection for the incumbent PM, given it would see his current party standing of 155 lose more than 20 seats.
The campaign has been dominated by Trudeau's handling of Covid, with his decision to call the contest coinciding with a fourth wave linked to the Delta variant. There has been an angry backlash against the use of masks and vaccine passports in some provinces, with an anti-vaccine protest forcing Trudeau to cancel an election rally in the Toronto region on Friday. The Afghanistan debacle has also overshadowed the campaign, amid criticisms that Canadian evacuation operations did not go far enough.
To lose in such a way would be an ignominious – if somewhat appropriate – way for the onetime golden boy of Western liberals to leave office. In 2015 he was swept to power by a landslide on an ambitious agenda that promised 'sunny ways.' Now though a fit of hubris could see that all come to an end, after six years in office dominated by ethics scandals and blackface pictures.
Still though, as Trudeau might say, 'shee-t' happens.