With the Brexit deadline fast approaching, it is understandable if you have missed coverage of the upcoming Canadian General Election on Monday 21stOctober. And yet in a post-Brexit world, where the UK has to develop new trade agreements, a productive UK-Canadian trading relationship is going to be vital, and therefore so will be knowing the Government we will be engaging with.
This is what I have learnt after three days in the Canadian capital:
1. It is not going to be an easy win for any political party, with a likely minority Government taking power through a coalition agreement. On Tuesday, Canadians may be faced with a situation where the Conservatives have won more seats, but the Liberals (and Trudeau) can build a coalition Government with the other left, progressive parties. Building a successful coalition is no easy feat. It is more than likely that Canadians will be asked to return to the polls in another 18 months. For Canadian businesses looking to engage with the Government, this means that they are going to have to develop a wider understanding of the interests of Members of Parliament across all parties and a more significant engagement and contact programme will be required.
2. Voter turnout is already high in this election. The Vote on Campus scheme allows for polling booths on university campuses to facilitate early voting. Beyond the practicalities of early voting being more convenient (Voting that fits within your schedule! No queues!), the scheme has shown it can increase participation amongst the youngest age categories. Increasing voter turnout continues to be a focus for UK groups involved in “Get Out the Vote” campaigns and developing a similar scheme should be something the Electoral Commission seriously considers.
3. Yesterday, Obama tweeted his support for Trudeau. The former President has had success in this area – he also tweeted his support for Macron in 2017. As a young, progressive leader, there is a sense in Canada that this election should have been easier for Trudeau, that a win should have been inevitable. However, the polls are tight. There are many reasons given for Trudeau’s current standing, from the experience of his young team to run a Government to the personal controversies that have rocked his first term. Will the former President’s tweet sway voters on Monday? It’s hard to say, but I’m sure Trudeau’s team are welcoming all offers of support
4. This election is important for UK business. In a post-Brexit world, the UK’s trading relationships with other countries are going to be vital for our prosperity. We already have a strong trading relationship with Canada – two-way merchandise trade between the two nations reached $25billion in 2018. This looks set to increase with a new trade deal and so understanding Canada’s political and trading interests and scoping out how British businesses can offer value is crucial. During my time in Ottawa, I have learnt about the next phase in Canada’s cannabis legalisation, the importance of protecting agriculture supply management systems and exciting green energy innovations. These are just a few issues that UK businesses should be educating themselves on if they have ambitions to work collaboratively with Canadian partners.