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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is greeted by supporters as he attends an election campaign event in Manotick, Ontario, Monday September 9,2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will launch the 2019 federal election campaign on Wednesday.

Trudeau will visit Gov. Gen. Julie Payette at Rideau Hall tomorrow at 10 a.m. and ask her to dissolve the 42nd Parliament, and draw up the writs for all 338 ridings across Canada.

Triggering the election then means that Canadians will be in for five-and-a-half weeks of campaigning, seeing the federal party leaders crisscrossing the country and pitching themselves, their candidates, and their platforms, before voters go to the polls on Oct. 21.

The 40-day campaign will be just over half the length of the marathon 78-day election in 2015. Trudeau had until Sept. 15 to call the election, but could have launched it as early as Sept. 1. 

Despite a summer full of parties exchanging partisan attacks, and campaign ads and slogans being unveiled, tomorrow will mark the official kickoff. With the formal launch expect the battling for votes to ramp up, more partisan mudslinging, contenders across the country knocking on doors and debating, as well as a daily offering of new platform proposals and policy ideas for Canadians to weigh when deciding who they'll cast their ballot for.

The leaders will also be holding rallies where supporters and those curious about what a party has to offer can show up and listen to their stump speeches and promises for bettering Canada.

Should the Governor General agree to dissolve Parliament, all outstanding business in both the House of Commons and Senate that was not passed when both chambers adjourned in June will die, and all parliamentary committees essentially cease to exist. Over the last four years the Liberals passed 88 pieces of government legislation.

During the process of dissolving a Parliament there are typically three steps: dismissing the senators and members; calling the next Parliament and ordering the writs to be issued; and setting the date for when Parliament will next meet after the writs are returned with the results. Writs are written orders instructing the returning officer in each riding to hold an election to select a member of Parliament.

The prime minister will then emerge from Rideau Hall and speak to the media, where he’s likely to explain why it is election time and take the first chance to frame what the vote will be about. He’ll then likely take off for his first rally celebrating the campaign kickoff.

The main opposition party leaders likely also will address the media after Trudeau comes out from his visit with the Governor General, speaking from strategically-selected locations across the country where they will respond to the election call, and offer their first real campaign messages.

"This election is still up for grabs and Canadians are going to want to see where each of the major federal party leaders land on the big issues to see if they can connect," said pollster Nik Nanos.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was already planning to launch his party's campaign and reveal their campaign bus on Wednesday. After unveiling his campaign plane in Ottawa, Scheer will be wheels-up to Trois-Rivieres, Que., for an official campaign launch, before travelling to Vaughan-Woodbridge, Ont. The GTA will be, and usually is a hotly-contested region of the country. In this campaign the Conservative path to victory runs through the 905-area code, the suburban seats won by former prime minister Stephen Harper but mostly lost to Liberals in 2015.

"Andrew is doing what he needs to, to get in front of the voters, to get in the regions where the Conservatives plan to win seats," said past federal Conservative campaign manager Jenni Byrne. She said that like all opposition leaders heading into their first election campaign at the helm of their party, Scheer's challenge will be to "let voters know who he is and what he and Conservative Party stand for."

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has already got his campaign bus rolling, showing it off at a rally in Toronto on Sunday. He is expected to continue his tour of the province in the early days of the campaign. Singh is spending Tuesday touring Hamilton and London.

"The big issue at the beginning of the campaign for the NDP is that they are cast with the Green Party in the race for third place, that's not good," said NDP strategist Karl Belanger. "Obviously if you're trying to be prime minister, and you're trying to form government, that's not a good place to be." 

Belanger said that the NDP needs Singh to be the campaigner that he showed himself to be during his leadership race. "He needs to step up and wow voters," Belanger said.

Already, Trudeau has begun shaping the Liberal campaign as the choice for forward progress, while Scheer's Conservatives and Singh's New Democrats are both focusing their messaging on either fighting for, or helping "you," get ahead.

After his historic 2015 election win, Trudeau will try to hold on to a majority government and will have the opportunity to both champion, and defend the record of the Liberals' last four years.

"Justin Trudeau has to do what hasn’t been done in almost 20 years, that is win back-to-back majorities," said Peter Donolo, former communications director to Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien.

"This is not the 2015 model that’s in the race this time, it's kind of dinged up, it's got a few scratches on it. But the argument that the Liberals has to be is even a dinged-up, slightly used Trudeau model is a lot better than what’s on offer from the Conservatives," he said.

The prime minister was in Halifax on Tuesday, surveying the damage done by Hurricane Dorian. As national disasters have occurred over his mandate, Trudeau and his gender-balanced cabinet have often pointed to climate change and the costly impacts of inaction. This is expected to be a central issue in this campaign, with many voters saying it'll influence their vote. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is making it her make-or-break issue and the bar she will hold all leaders to should the election result in a minority government where her support may be integral.

The timing took some political observers by surprise, considering tomorrow is Sept. 11, the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some people have shrugged it off as a mere coincidence that won’t get more than a mention in initial writ drop speeches, while others questioned whether it was appropriate.

On The Evan Solomon Show on CFRA, May said that she had ruled out the date for the writ drop because the 9/11 anniversary is a solemn occasion.

"September 11 is the day, so we're off to the races," May said. "It strikes me as inappropriate."

The launch of the election period will also mean that campaign war rooms rev up their work, as parties will be able to spend much more money on campaigning than was allowed under pre-election spending limits that went into place as of June 30, and are new since the last election.

Over the election, each registered party can spend approximately $28.1 million, while individual candidates can spend on average $110,000, but it varies depending on the riding. That means should each party run a full slate of candidates they can spend a combined total of approximately $65 million. Third-party interest groups have a spending cap at just under $512,000.

Given the condensed length, more in line with general elections past, the 2019 race is expected to be a hard-fought campaign. While polls indicate the Conservatives and NDP are the Liberals' direct competitors, a story central to the campaign will be how well May, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, and People's Party Leader Maxime Bernier fare in growing their seat counts.

The writ drop, as its commonly become known, comes one day before the first English-language leaders’ debate, happening in Toronto. Maclean’s/Citytv is putting it on and it will feature the three main opposition leaders, as Trudeau will not take part.

The two official Commission-organized debates, which are produced by the Canadian Debate Production Partnership (CDPP) will take place at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. The English debate will be held on Oct. 7 and the French debate is on Oct. 10.

They will include Trudeau, Scheer, Singh, May, and Blanchet. The CDPP includes CTV News, CBC News, Radio-Canada, Global News, Toronto Star and the Torstar chain, La Presse, Le Devoir, L’Actualité, HuffPost Canada and HuffPost Québec.

Heading into the campaign here's the current seat breakdown in the House of Commons. A party needs to win 170 seats for a majority government.

  • Liberal: 177
  • Conservative: 95
  • NDP: 39
  • Bloc Québécois: 10
  • Independent: 8
  • Green Party: 2
  • Co-operative Commonwealth Federation: 1
  • People's Party: 1

And here is the candidate count for each party running candidates across the country, as of Monday:

  • Liberal: 297
  • Conservative: 338
  • NDP: 205
  • Green Party: 308
  • People's Party: 316