So, Now what?
Sometimes I wonder at the nature of politics. Is there anything more fickle? Barely a month since the federal election and look how things have changed. Doug Ford and Justin Trudeau are playing nicey-nice. The Prime Minister is almost a shadow of himself; less arrogant, more conciliatory and hardly a nasty or divisive comment out of his mouth. And Premier Ford has been let out of the basement and is well on the way to leading the fight for Canadian unity. I wonder how long all of this will last?
Meanwhile, the flavour of the month for media attacks is Andrew Scheer. Trudeau, and even Ford, are pretty well getting a pass. When it comes to the Premier of Ontario, only the Toronto Star continues its daily attacks and they simply do not know how to do anything else.
But Andrew Scheer is a different ball of wax. The long knives are out and the main-stream media, if they are not leading the charge, are certainly aiding and abetting! As I write this, I note that National Newswatch has no less than nine anti-Scheer posts on their site, four of them up top. It seems that the smallest slight against Scheer, from the most insignificant Tory grunt, is fodder for national headlines. The CBC especially excels at this.
The media of course, are not in this alone. They are fed by bloodthirsty wannabes within the Conservative Party. This is not entirely surprising as Andrew Scheer did not win the election and Conservatives are known for knifing their leaders at the first opportunity. It is one of the few occasions when the main-stream media jumps to the side of the Conservative cause.
But those who really believe that Scheer missed scoring ‘on an open net’, are wrong. They underestimate the brilliance of back room Liberal strategists, with skills honed over decades, that include an innate ability to throw hand grenades at the appropriate time and create situations that give them a fighting chance, no matter how much their Leader screws up. I have known some of them in the past and I know a few of them now. They have my utmost respect when it comes to blood politics. Without a doubt, there was always someone in the Liberal net.
I continue to find it interesting that while Justin Trudeau significantly reduced his Party’s fortunes, and while Andrew Scheer actually won the popular vote and greatly improved Conservative representation in parliament, it is Scheer and not Trudeau who is the flavour of the month when it comes to attacking the leader. This may be because Liberals tend to do their dirty laundry in private. Conservatives do not.
I have written previously that I believe that Andrew Scheer deserves a second shot. I still do. However, as I watch what is going on, in the back rooms and from supporters of some candidates who did not win the leadership last time around, and adding the maneuvering of much of the media, the less I believe that it is going to come to pass.
I also find it very interesting to note that while Andrew Scheer continues to face fire and brimstone, Ontario Premier Doug Ford appears to be climbing out of the ashes. He and Mr. Trudeau are buddies now! More or less. That makes it a little difficult for some in the media to jerk him around. He had a lousy first year as Premier, mostly of his own doing. That’s why the movers and shakers in the Scheer campaign had him virtually locked up, a move they surely must regret now, because Doug Ford could have helped them win some close seats in areas of the GTA, where he remains popular. This is another reason why you do not knife your own people in the back. Now Doug Ford has no compulsion to be loyal to Andrew Scheer or the federal Conservatives, and the door is open for him to be seen to be working with the Trudeau government in the interests of both Ontario and national unity.
In my view, it takes a strong person to ignore the vicious attacks rained upon Doug Ford by Justin Trudeau and the Liberal campaign. It was as if they were running against him instead of Scheer. And it worked, primarily because the Conservatives were unwittingly complicit by treating Ford like a pariah. It made it easy for the Liberals to do the same, especially when Ford was not in a position to defend himself.
But Doug Ford has allowed this to evaporate like water off a duck’s back, in favour of a working relationship that allows him to take a leading role in issues of national unity, a matter of primary importance to Canada. To the surprise of many and the chagrin of some, he may yet rise to be seen as a real statesman for Canada.
Doug Ford is not your typical politician. He is not polished and there are some who see him as a bit of a buffoon. Yet he is affable and people who meet him, like him. He actually returns his messages and phone calls, a rarity at that level in politics. Doug Ford has made mistakes and he has owned up to many of them. How often have you seen the Prime Minister do that, except when he had no choice?
What Doug Ford has recognized is that government cannot be all things to all people. Equally important, he realizes that necessary and important government responsibilities, including health care, education, the environment and the poor, cannot be adequately funded, if our national and provincial debt continues to spiral out of control. Certainly, he has bumbled along the way and balancing a budget is never a happy exercise. It is however a necessary one.
So, here is my prediction as we enter a new year and bounce along the uncertain road of Canadian politics. Doug Ford will survive. Andrew Scheer will not. Justin Trudeau will survive for now but will never again form another majority government.
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