The House

In House Panel - The Long Election Road Ahead

Mark Kennedy and Rosemary Barton discuss the potential impact of a long election campaign and the significance of next week's first leaders debate.
Let the politician-with-baby photos begin. As parties rev up for a long campaign, the In House panel looks at the consequences of an early election call. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

Who will benefit from a long election campaign? 

With the writ about to drop, where do the three main political parties stand -- and what do they need to accomplish right out of the gate?

The Ottawa Citizen parliamentary bureau chief Mark Kennedy and the host of Power and Politics Rosemary Barton join us to discuss the beginning of Canada's 42nd federal election campaign.

"This is a campaign about change versus stability," Kennedy said.

But there are potential dangers associated with a long campaign even if a party can financially afford one, said Barton.

"A long campaign could solidify the need for change. What if the change is just too much to counter?" she said. "What we're probably not talking about enough is the risks. Do they have enough material to sustain this kind of campaign? What's the vision that you're going to put on the table for 70-plus days?"

The panelists also discuss what they'll be watching for during Thursday's first election debate — should leaders play it safe, pacing themselves for a long campaign and multiple debates, or swing for the fences?

"I don't think they play it safe at all. If they make a mistake, they've got time to recover," said Kennedy. 

Each leader faces distinct challenges in the debate, but Barton made the case for Trudeau as a potential surprise heavy hitter.

"I think he has the most to win here. The bar is so low at this stage," she said. "All he has to do is nail it, and nail it clean."

"Trudeau can't afford to have that evening to be seen as a debate between two men," Kennedy added. "As we've seen in the House of Commons over and over where Trudeau's been shoved to the side."

The big takeaway, the panelists agree, is that there are opportunities to turn things around for all of the parties, but it has to happen soon — and there's no better chance than during this week's debate.