It’s down to the wire now. One more week and we will know who will form the next government of Canada…or maybe not. The results may be so close that a lot of political maneuvering may take place before we really know who is first up to bat.
In spite of the unexpected closeness of this race, I still believe that Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party will form a minority government. Post-debate polling results support this, giving the Liberals a slight lead over the Conservatives. As most readers of this column will know, this would not be my outcome of choice but as things stand it is what I believe will occur.
However, there is always that “oh, shit” moment that sometimes comes toward the end of a federal or provincial campaign that changes everything.
It happened to former-Premier Frank Miller when, toward the end of his campaign, a junior member of his cabinet from Northern Ontario made an intemperate and anti-Indigenous remark that almost instantly moved Miller from a sure-win to a nail-biter that consequently cost him the government. It also happened to Prime Minister John Turner in that “you had a choice, sir” moment between him and Brian Mulroney.
One thing I am sure of is that every senior campaign official in both the Trudeau and O’Toole camps is cringing over the thought that a last-minute shoe will fall that would change the course of the election for their candidate.
One such moment for the Liberals may well be the publication of former Trudeau attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s book, Indian in the Cabinet. It will be in bookstores on Tuesday.
There is a difference between this and former “oh, shit” moments, as the Liberal backroom boys and girls would have seen it coming and surely are prepared for it.
But I wonder if that will be enough. Some of the advance quotes from Wilson-Raybould’s book are pretty compelling. This one, in relation to the SNC scandal, especially:
“I knew what he [Trudeau] was really asking. What he was saying. In that moment, I knew he wanted me to lie — to attest that what had occurred had not occurred. … Lie to protect a Crown government acting badly; a political party; a leader who was not taking responsibility.”
And again: “I thought he would be a good prime minister and create a good team. … I found myself wondering exactly when I first realized I had been wrong.”
It remains to be seen if Jody Wilson-Raybould’s book will resonate, become a seminal moment that affects the outcome of the election. But if it does, how ironic it would be if the person who delivered the coup de grâce to this prime minister is an Indigenous woman and one of two very talented women who left his cabinet and weakened his government because of his antics.
In my view, there was another pivotal moment in the past few days, yes, another “holy crap” moment, which has been largely ignored by the mainstream media but in my view should be a real concern to all Canadians, including Indigenous people.
The raising of our Canadian flag to full-mast, having been lowered for many months in recognition of young Indigenous deaths in residential schools, has become a political issue exacerbated by the prime minister’s recent statement that our national flag on federal buildings will remain at half-mast until Indigenous leaders decide it’s appropriate to raise them again. Think about that.
First of all, think about the onus and unfair burden of responsibility put upon Indigenous people to decide when our national flag, a flag belonging to all Canadians, can fly with pride again. How can they do this when they have so many issues with the Canadian government, from lack of clean water in many of their communities, to the Trudeau Government appealing a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision that affects First Nations children, to ongoing land claims and so on?
How, under these long-standing circumstances, can First Nations leaders just shrug and say, “Okay, let’s put the flag up again?” What a terrible and frankly untenable and potentially antagonistic position to put Indigenous people in.
Next, think about what it means to have our Canadian flag held hostage. One cannot blame Indigenous people for this. The blame lies with the Trudeau Government who have granted to one group of people, albeit an important one, the right to decide when our flag can fly with pride again, as do all others in the world. How is that fair to all Canadians? And why wouldn’t we expect First Nations to use this opportunity that was handed to them to negotiate their differences with the Canadian government?
A good friend of mine recently said to me, “My heart aches today for our country. There is so much anger hate, conflict, even in individual families, never seen before.”
He is right. Canada today, on many fronts and for many reasons, is a divided nation. Trudeau’s most recent statement about our flag simply divides us further.
It is time for that to stop.
Hugh Mackenzie has held elected office as a trustee on the Muskoka Board of Education, a Huntsville councillor, a District councillor, and mayor of Huntsville. He has also served as chairman of the District Muskoka and as chief of staff to former premier of Ontario, Frank Miller.
Hugh has served on a number of provincial, federal and local boards, including chair of the Ontario Health Disciplines Board, vice-chair of the Ontario Family Health Network, vice-chair of the Ontario Election Finance Commission, and board member of Roy Thomson Hall, the National Theatre School of Canada, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Locally, he has served as president of the Huntsville Rotary Club, chair of Huntsville District Memorial Hospital, chair of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, president of Huntsville Festival of the Arts, and board member of Community Living Huntsville.
In business, Hugh Mackenzie has a background in radio and newspaper publishing. He was also a founding partner and CEO of Enterprise Canada, a national public affairs and strategic communications firm established in 1986.
Currently Hugh is president of C3 Digital Media Inc., the parent company of Doppler Online, and he enjoys writing commentary for Huntsville Doppler.
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