Thank Goodness it’s over. I am sick of elections. We have had three of them in the last 36 months. Enough already … at least for the next few years. And this from a political junkie!
The federal election that ended this past week, was particularly unsettling. I am not referring to the result. The people have spoken and as the saying goes, the people are never wrong. But in delivering the verdict that they have, it is interesting to think about what voters are really saying.
First, dogfights don’t work. They might help one political party win over another, but in the end, they cause division and uncertainty and the reality is that there is no clear victory for anyone, especially Canadians.
This election was the most vicious, the most acrimonious, the most self-defeating exercise since the days of Sir John A. MacDonald. It left a bad taste in the mouths of many Canadians and is nothing to be proud of. All political parties, with the possible exception of the Greens, must take responsibility for this.
Along with other negative strategies, dragging up inconsequential issues from the past to score points on their opponents was particularly ineffective. And before my so-called Progressive friends blame all of that on the Conservatives, let me remind you that the first shot over the bow came from the Liberals with a video of Andrew Scheer from 14 years ago. Sadly, it went downhill from there. Canadians were clearly sick of this type of behaviour and future wannabes at all levels of government should take note.
Compare the federal fiasco with that of Parry-Sound Muskoka. All candidates were respectful of each other. They aired their disagreements without acrimony and without personal attacks. Trisha Cowie and Scott Aitchison, the only two candidates with any real chance of winning, never got down in the mud, in spite of all the crap that was spinning around from the federal campaign. They were both a class act. As a result, at the end of the day, voters were able to make a clear choice with no ambiguities, so different from the national scene. And yes, If Trisha Cowie had been the winner, I would be saying the same thing.
Another clear signal from those who voted is that there was no leader with whom Canadians were particularly impressed. Many felt they were voting for the best of poor choices and that was obvious in the eventual outcome. Mr. Trudeau won the most seats. Mr. Scheer won the most votes. Neither has anything to crow about. However, in spite of that and in my view, both of them have the right to try again.
Mr. Trudeau has said he has learned a lesson from this election. He has vowed to be less confrontational, to focus more on the issues and to work with other parties in parliament to find middle ground and to get things done for all Canadians. That is the way it needs to work in a minority government. Only time will tell if he can make it happen.
I was particularly pleased to see that Prime Minister Trudeau decided against cozying up to the New Democrats to form a majority government either formally or otherwise. It was my greatest fear and it would have been a disaster. It would result in much higher debt and no pipeline. This is one promise he must not break, no matter the temptation.
Canadian unity must be a top priority for this parliament. Currently, nationalism is heating up in Quebec and it is also getting very hot in parts of the West. It has been a long time since the country has been so divided and the consequences will be catastrophic. We need solutions.
A Trudeau minority government must work with the Conservatives to improve national unity. It simply will not happen if it depends on any of the other political parties in parliament. They need to work together on maintaining a voting process that does not result in the far left, (not the Liberals) perpetually holding the balance of power and therefore determining public policy in Canada. This country is not one of the top places to live in the world by accident. It is because since Confederation we have had a middle of the road approach to politics both from Conservatives and Liberals. Different ideas as to how to get there, but still a balance that has resulted in a prosperous middle ground that is the envy of many other nations. We need to keep it that way.
Finally, now to Andrew Scheer. I think he too should stay. Conservatives have a history of eating their leaders at the earliest opportunity, but they need to think twice this time around. It is true that there is no prize for second place, but it need not be a recipe for walking the plank. If Mr. Scheer is to shoulder responsibility for the campaign’s mistakes, which he should, then he must also be given credit for his accomplishments. He has substantially increased Conservative representation in parliament. He also won more votes than any other political party, including the Liberals. He is better known by Canadians than any other sitting Conservative and he has years of parliamentary experience.
Mr. Scheer has been hurt because he has not sacrificed his personal beliefs on so-called social issues for political gain. I for one respect him for that as I believe, do many Canadians, especially when he has pledged that his personal views on these issues would not influence him as Prime Minister. We are all entitled to our personal beliefs and the faith that forms them.
In a minority government, an election can come at any time. In the past few years the Liberals have moved significantly left and virtually abandoned the centre. There is an opportunity here for Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives to fill that void and if they do, they face the prospect of a bright future. One should not mess around with that.
In the meantime, a Trudeau minority government may or may not work. It will depend on how much he has changed.
Only time will tell.
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