Sadly, Politics as Usual
Perhaps it’s just the lousy weather we have had this Spring, but I am having a hard time getting hyped up about the Federal election that is almost on our doorstep. Strange for me, as many of you will be aware, I am somewhat of a political junkie. Normally, I love elections!
In the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to either meet with, or to research the four candidates who are seeking the Conservative nomination in Parry Sound-Muskoka. I only know one of them well, but I am impressed with all four of them. As the late Stan Darling would have said, they are all full of you know what and vinegar. (Actually, Stan would have said it much more graphically.) They are hyped on energy and raring to go. They are all, in different ways, well qualified, dedicated to public service and would, in my view, represent this Riding well.
In this particular contest, I will be supporting Scott Aitchison, the current Mayor of Huntsville, not only because I know him well and, that of the four candidates, he is best known in the Riding, having actually lived here all of his life, but also because he has by far, the most experience in the trenches of elected politics. He knows it is a blood sport and he knows what he is getting into. He understands politics from the inside, and he knows how the system works and to a certain extent, he knows how to work it.
But while I am impressed with these young people and others like them, I can’t help wondering what it is that motivates them to seek public office in today’s toxic, populist and unproductive political climate, especially, when all of them have enough talent to do exceptionally well in the private sector. No doubt, they believe they can change things. I believed that once, but in today’s political and populist environment, I wonder.
The reality is that only a small percentage of elected politicians at the Provincial and Federal levels of Government get off the back benches. Everyone who runs, believes or at least hopes, they are going to be Prime Minister, Premier or a senior Cabinet Minister but the hard truth is that only a handful get there. The rest are told how to vote, when to keep their mouths shut and as we have seen too often lately, even when to give standing ovations. Trained monkeys. And as we have also seen too often lately, if they don’t absolutely toe the Party line like sheep, they are toast. Everything they do politically, is highly and centrally controlled. It takes a special kind of person to subject themselves to that. It calls the whole concept of democracy and freedom of expression into question.
Whoever wins the Conservative nomination in Parry Sound- Muskoka, will have a steep hill to climb, if they want to get to Ottawa. Compared to the Liberals, they will have a very narrow window through which to campaign. Trisha Cowie, the Liberal nominated candidate has effectively been on the campaign trail for the past four years. She gave Tony Clement a run for his money in the last election. She has a high profile in the Riding and as I said about Scott Aitchison, profile counts.
In spite of what some people believe, Parry-Sound Muskoka is not a safe riding for the Conservatives. The Liberals know that. If they didn’t believe they could take this Riding, Justin Trudeau would not have wasted his time by showing up here for an event with Trisha Cowie.
It is also interesting that to date, no candidate has come forward for the Green Party in this Riding. The Green Party is making gains across the Country and they did reasonably well here in the last election. Their leader, Elizabeth May, has all but indicated that her Party would support the Liberals if they formed a Minority Government. Is it possible that a deal has been made? The Green’s help the Liberals here by not putting up a strong opposition and elsewhere in Canada, the Liberals do the same for the Green’s where they have a chance of winning a Riding, where the Liberals do not? It may sound Machiavellian, but remember, politics is a blood sport.
There are no huge federal issues that are specific to Parry Sound- Muskoka only. Flooding of course, is a big one, but those who really understand the political system, know that responsibility for this lies primarily at the Provincial and Municipal levels. And so, my guess is, that as the country goes, so will Parry Sound- Muskoka. The answer to the question of how that will turn out, is still up for grabs.
The polls for Justin Trudeau and his Liberals are not very good right now. But polls can change in the twinkling of an eye and like any Party in power, the Liberals will do whatever they believe they need to, to hold onto that power. They will make the deals, they will spend the money, (your money), they will stack the deck, they will use scare tactics and they will make promises they will never keep. Politics as usual.
On the other hand, Andrew Scheer and his Conservatives, are ahead in the polls, but not by much. In spite of the low ratings Trudeau currently enjoys, Scheer and company have not yet adequately demonstrated that they would be an effective alternative. The Conservatives have allowed themselves to be pigeon-holed on certain social issues, unfairly in my view, but they have not adequately fought back and Andrew Scheer’s refusal to walk in Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade, does nothing to help this. People do not know what the Conservatives really stand for. They will be judged by how well they clarify that over the next several months. After all, Government should be for all the people, not just some of them.
And so, between now and October, the Federal election campaign will be a mudslinging, horse race. There is a lot at stake. We may be looking at a minority government for the first time in decades.
Somehow, I can’t get too excited about all of this. Maybe, when it comes to politics, in this day and age, I’m too depressed. I just do not see a happy ending.
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