One of the first campaign announcements made in the current Canadian election was the governing Liberal’s promise to require public servants to be vaccinated for COVID-19. From the focus on how the Liberals went to great lengths to contrast their position with the Conservatives, it was clear the intention was to establish a wedge issue for the campaign.
Yet, as the media requested details regarding the Liberal plan for those employees who refuse to receive vaccinations, answers were not forthcoming.
On Tuesday, he said there would be consequences for public servants who refused to get vaccinated, without elaborating what the penalty would be. That drew criticism from the biggest union representing federal public-sector employees. The Liberal mandatory-vaccination regime is vague on how this would be accomplished and enforced, and when this would come into force. marketwatch.com, August 18, 2021
At the same time, the Conservatives provided their plan to require rapid testing for those who refuse or medically cannot receive vaccinations. The policy resulted in the media highlighting the similarities between the two positions.
The daylight between O’Toole’s approach and the Liberal mandate actually appears somewhat narrow, given that the federal government is planning to make exceptions for those who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons or other protected grounds. Global News, August 16, 2021
So what does the public think of parties’ positions? The data we have analyzed over the past week indicates that the sentiment levels generated through comments about the parties were relatively equal last Monday. However, as the public conversation over mandatory vaccinations increased, sentiment started to decline for both parties, but at a more rapid pace for the Liberals.
While the day-to-day scores have significant volatility, the trendlines show the more pronounced decline for the Liberals over the past week.
The campaign is still in its early days, but it is fair to assume this was not how the Liberals wanted to begin their campaign for reelection.