Will Barack Obama's Endorsement Help Justin Trudeau? Conservatives Are Calling it 'Election Interference'

As far as former President Barack Obama is concerned, the world still needs the "progressive leadership" of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Whether or not it will get it, of course, is a matter left entirely up to Canadians, as the country heads into a federal election on Monday.

As Canadians head to the polls, however, some have accused Obama of seeking to sway the outcome of the vote with a last-minute endorsement praising Trudeau.

"I was proud to work with Justin Trudeau as President. He's a hard-working, effective leader who takes on big issues like climate change," Obama tweeted out just days before Monday's election.

"The world needs his progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbors to the north support him for another term," the former U.S. leader said.

A 'shocking lack of judgement'?

While Trudeau thanked Obama for his support, some Canadian Conservatives sought to paint it as foreign interference, with Tory Senator Linda Frum, a former journalist, calling the move "deeply inappropriate."

"Have respect for President Obama, but he really ought to know how deeply inappropriate it is for a foreigner to try to use his influence to sway an election in Canada," Frum said on Wednesday. "Find this to be a shocking lack of judgement," she said.

Have respect for President Obama but he really ought to know how deeply inappropriate it is for a foreigner to try to use his influence to sway an election in Canada. Find this to be a shocking lack of judgment. I’m only speculating but it feels like @gmbutts called in a favour. https://t.co/8BxaWI3i9B

— Senator Linda Frum (@LindaFrum) October 16, 2019

Meanwhile, Vivian Bercovici, the former Canadian ambassador to Israel, branded the endorsement "distasteful and inappropriate," asserting in a tweet: "Shouldn't the former President of the U.S. keep quiet about who he supports in the Canadian election?!?"

"Your loyalty is touching," she said, "but you should refrain from making such comments. Could be seen as meddlesome."

Later defending her comments, Bercovici said: "This is about Canada's election being free of foreign interference and influence."

One Canadian broadcaster, CTV, reportedly had viewers contact its offices to question whether Obama's endorsement could potentially be a form of foreign interference.

Freedom of expression

CTV journalist Darrell Romuld said he reached out to Elections Canada to address their concerns, with the regulatory body shutting the claims down, saying, "all individuals, Canadian or non-Canadian are free to express their views on any topic during an election."

Still, an endorsement from Obama could hold considerable weight among Canadians, given his popularity in the country.

By the time he left office, Obama enjoyed an 81 percent favorability rating in Canada, according to a January 2017 Ispos poll, with Canadians' support for Obama 5 percentage points above the global average.

Considering that Trudeau's own approval rating has plummeted in recent months, it would be fair for Liberals to hope Obama's endorsement might give the Canadian prime minister a leg up.

Obama's thumbs-up certainly comes at a time when Trudeau looks to be in need of whatever support he can get to secure a second term in Monday's election, with the Liberal leader narrowly coming out ahead of his Conservative opponent Andrew Scheer in the most recent polling averages.

According to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation's average of publicly available polling data, which was last updated late Sunday evening, the Liberals were ahead of the Conservatives by just 0.4 percent, with the former holding 32 percent of the vote compared to the latter's 31.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the New Democratic Party has been inching forward, with 18.4 percent of the vote.

Obama and Trudeau
Then-President Barack Obama and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take part in a welcome ceremony during a State Visit on the South Lawn of the White House on March 10, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Obama endorsed Trudeau in a tweet just days before Canada's 2019 federal election. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty