When this election is over, Chantal Hebert writes, either Justin Trudeau or Erin O'Toole will have to go. In Trudeau's case, the calculation is simple:
Trudeau made the call that put his top job and the Liberals’ hold on federal power on the line more than two years early. If the Liberal ship goes down on Monday night, he will be widely expected to walk the plank.
In similar circumstances, most outgoing government leaders tend to not wait for the morning after the vote to announce their resignation. But things could play out differently in this instance.
In O'Toole's case, things are more complicated:
Win or lose, the party has exceeded pre-writ expectations. Few, even within Conservative ranks, believed O’Toole would manage to run as competitive a campaign.
The problem is that, when it comes to policy, O'Toole has been all over the place:
Since his leadership bid a year ago, O’Toole has gone from promising to scrap the tax to proposing to weaken it to looking to the provinces for guidance.
The road to Damascus O’Toole has chosen to take on gun control, the future of the CBC or that of the child care agreements Trudeau has struck with seven provinces is equally foggy.
And then there was the decision to propel Brian Mulroney to the centre stage of the Conservative campaign.
Make no mistake, the former Tory prime minister is a well-respected figure in his home province of Quebec. And he has a nostalgic following within what is left of the progressive wing of the Conservative party.
But his name is also anathema to much of the Conservative base west of Quebec. While O’Toole and his campaign revelled in Mulroney’s aura, Stephen Harper has remained unnamed and unseen. This is not a development many of the Conservatives who supported O’Toole for the leadership could have seen coming.
And then there was O'Toole's claim that Jason Kenney had handled the pandemic better than Trudeau. Those could wind up being O'Toole's famous last words.
Soon we'll know who will be heading to the exits.
Image: The Toronto Star