Listen Up! Here’s what voters were really saying this election

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Hugh Mackenzie
Huntsville Doppler

Election Reflections

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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7 Comments

  1. I agree with Hugh I have respect for any man and especially a politician that will stand up for what he personally believes is right or wrong no matter what the consequences are. A big thumbs up to Mr Scheer for doing that.

    • Sherri McGrath on

      The Conservatives did more than a little mud slinging during the campaign and have lost any moral compass, they have zero morals, all we need to do is look to Ford or Kenney to see that. Kenney just gave 3.5 billion tax dollars to rich oil companies and is now brutally cutting public education, secondary education, pensions, etc. We need to face the facts, these are not our progressive conservatives they are republicans. Mr. Trudeau whom is a leader for all not just oil which only makes up 13% of our GDP is a family man with young children and Scheer and his team and conservatives were willing to throw mud, false mud around publically so his children could see it, his wife could see it and then still trott Clement out on the daily. There is no question in my mind that this conservative party has no moral compass to lead, Ford speaks about Unity while he takes the federal government to court about a carbon tax that 66% of Canadians want, they know nothing about morality or the Canadian people.

      • May I remind you that the liberal govt before Mr Harper cut more spending on health care than any other govt in history and Tudope has us so far in debt that our great grand children might be able to pay it back and a lot of that money went to some other country just to make himself look good and get some pictures in the local papers. Liberals have run both the province of Ont. and Canada in massif debt and there was no way of stopping them until now.

        • Sherri McGrath on

          His name is Trudeau and he has lifted 400,000 out of poverty, we have lowest unemployment in 40 yrs, good infrastructure investment, a climate plan, etc, they did not cut healthcare, they cut transfer payments and it was up to the provinces what they cut, so be honest, Chretien and Martin handed Harper a balanced budget and he and the conservatives left us with billions in debt even after selling the GM shares which was our only asset after lending our tax dollars to GM. I believe that Conservatives are bad for the economy and horrible for people. Canadians are learning, we want Pharmacare, we want improved senior care, improved mental health, improved vet care, housing, etc, Conservatives offer nothing but tax cuts and welfare to wealthy. We were right to elect Trudeua and probably will again as conservatives have zero to offer people.

  2. We have a majority government. Its called liberal/Bloc-Quebecois.
    To stay in power I think Trudeau will give the Bloc anything they want and the favour
    will be returned by passing anything Justin wants.
    I just hope we as Canadians will be able to resist any BS thrown our way
    and still remain the great country that we are.

  3. Hugh, I’m totally confused. Mr. Scheer should be given plaudits for maintaining his personal views on social issues; and not sacrificing them for political gain. Fine so far. He would, however, govern with total disrespect for his personal views. How is that not sacrifice for personal gain? With respect, I never thought I’d hear such sophistry from you.

    Federally, there was a singular class act, Elizabeth May, and she won’t be running next time. In a less bilateral Canada, she and the late Jack Layton could have formed the greatest coalition government this country never contemplated.

    • Sherri McGrath on

      then he will never lead this country as women will protect their right to autonomy and we are big believers in marriage equality and we do not want religion in our Parliment.

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