You can be forgiven if the previous 40 days of the 2019 Federal Election campaign have felt like a gruelling four year term at a post secondary institution where Canadians might have majored in divisiveness and picked up an undergrad in scandal.
So with arduous study and the culminating event being Monday’s election behind us, what have we learned?
First off, we’ve learned despite having a terrible seven months leading up to and including the campaign period, a good number of Canadians still have faith in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to lead the country.
SNC Lavalin and blackface scandals might have been enough to cut into his base and net a minority away from a second straight majority government but all the slings and arrows from opposing parties and fringe, dark money groups bent on sending the Liberal party leader packing wasn’t enough to complete the task.
We will stop short of calling Trudeau the teflon Prime Minister but he was able to shake off a multitude of baggage over the last 40 days to get to the finish line first -albeit with a smaller entourage than in 2015.
On the flip side, a couple of points about the Conservative Party of Canada: First, their (soon to be punted) leader Andrew Scheer couldn’t connect with voters outside of the prairies in a manner that resulted in the gains badly needed in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario to make the Alberta-Saskatchewan fortress anything more than token value on the Canadian political landscape.
Releasing the party’s platform late in the campaign, not addressing climate change in a substantive way and a previously undisclosed dual citizenship were all errors by Scheer and company that may pushed centerist voters to the left.
And if that wasn’t enough, the ongoing attacks on Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh etc.- lies and mistruths- by the third party, right wing fringe operators might have been just enough to make undecided Canadians take a sober look at the field before them and wonder ‘Do I really want to see a polarized political landscape like that south of the 49th parallel?’ The results outside of the CPC strongholds indicate the answer to the question is no. We hope that’s the case and the heinous tact is rejected by the incoming leader. Principles and ideas should be the broader currency of the CPC -And more importantly, their supporters-the next time around.
In order to grow beyond the dedicated base and get back into power, the CPC needs to reject the politics of division and undertake some soul searching.
Their base might be staunch in their feelings about immigration, gun control, climate change and women’s reproductive rights but what’s clear is the rest of Canada is trending in a very different direction. Broken down by the spectrum, it’s crystal clear that progressive, Left-of-Centre parties won the day on Monday.
That Conservative base, much of it in Alberta and Saskatchewan, have made their feelings clear they aren’t happy and sowing unity in the prairies will be Trudeau’s tallest order of this term.
The pain being felt by those in Canada’s richest natural resource provinces is real and the fact the former economic engine of this country has been relegated to the sidelines as our nation-and the world- changes around them. A country stepping away from petroleum has angered westerners. Canada’s largest and most educated industrial workforce aged 18-24 are hanging out in the west and the energy sector is not booming. And might never boom again.
This issue and the angst that comes with it is a major issue for the Prime Minister.
Locally, we learned voters in the Bay of Quinte still have faith in Neil Ellis and that’s fair. The MP has done good work on behalf of his constituents, been available to solve problems and helped bring federal investments to our area. Judging by the island of red in an Eastern Ontario sea of blue, our local municipal leaders would do well to lean on Ellis to improve the state of affairs locally. Infrastructure anyone? A Liberal government propped up by the NDP could improve the lives of those in the margins, indigenous peoples and the low-to-middle class and those that want to join them.
That’s our hope for the upcoming term of federal politics.