By Dave Wilkin
In the end it was an entirely unnecessary, pointless election. There were no winners. Here’s some highlights:
The Liberals’ vote share dropped slightly to 33 per cent, one per cent below the Conservatives again, gaining one seat. PM Trudeau’s personal credibility took a big hit for calling an election no one wanted simply because he thought he could win his desired majority.
The Conservatives won the popular vote, and maintained their share of pre-election seats. They failed to deliver in the must-win GTA/905 area and didn’t break through in Quebec. It appears up to a dozen Conservative seats may have been lost because of vote splitting with the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), mostly benefiting Liberal candidates.
The NDP managed to grow their vote share a few per cent, benefiting some from shifting Green votes, but it remained below 18 per cent. They gained one seat, but failed again in Ontario, taking just five seats there.
The Bloc picked up a seat, but their vote share didn’t change.
The Green party suffered about a 30 per cent drop in vote share and lost one seat.
The PPC failed to win a seat but managed to attract five per cent of the vote. Most support was outside of big urban areas and in the West. Interestingly, a few Ontario ridings saw a vote share as high as 13 per cent. Whether their support continues beyond the pandemic is unclear. They look like the party for disenfranchised, angry, protest voters, and may pose a continuing risk that goes beyond the Conservative Party.
Canadians were the big losers in this election. Justin Trudeau wasted over $600 million, shut down parliament during a pandemic, and put Canadians at additional COVID risk, all for an election we didn’t need or want. It left the electoral map essentially the same and the big divides remain: East-West, urban-rural.
So what might the new session of parliament bring? We could hope for more cooperation, more MP voices being listened to, less division, and actually delivering more meaningful results. But this will require Justin Trudeau to learn from his past mistakes, acknowledge shortcomings, and become more trustworthy. Vacuous campaign slogans like ‘Build Back Better’ and ‘Great Resets’ need to stop. It would also require a Liberal Party shift back closer to the political centre. Don’t hold your breath though.
Continuing NDP support of Liberal progressive policies means fiscally conservative influence gets shut out. Here’s why this is a big problem. Ever since the 2008 market crash, high levels of quantitive easing, near-zero real interest rates, and high spending at all levels of the economy has created record debt, and real estate and stock market bubbles. With Justin Trudeau not ‘thinking about monetary policy’, our economy and future prosperity is put at increasing risk. When large bubbles deflate, as they inevitably do, history shows deep recessions or worse follow. They can come from world events, as in the Great Depression, the 1980s international debt crisis, or the 2008 financial crisis. They can also come from internal policy failures as was the case in the late ’70s and ’80s under PM Pierre Trudeau. That took decades to fully recover from.
Politicians too often fail to focus on the root issues behind the big challenges, focusing instead on actions that look attractive to win votes but actually accomplish little. Sometimes they make things worse. Excessively high housing costs being just one clear example of this.
COVID-19 has left Canada and the world weakened, divided, and more indebted than ever. Canadians need to pay closer attention to what is happening in Ottawa, to speak up and hold politicians to account to work together to deliver real meaningful results that address the biggest challenges that we face as a country. No single leader or party has all the answers.
Dave Wilkin, Huntsville resident
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