Apparently Justin Trudeau thinks that the best use of the nation’s time as we head into a Delta driven 4th wave of COVID is to have an election. Okay, I never thought he had any judgement and an election call at the moment would confirm that but here we are.
There are huge issues facing Canada. Unfettered immigration, useless but expensive carbon taxes, deficits to 2070, price inflation, real estate markets which have put housing in the luxury goods category, a stalled First Nations reconciliation process, the collapse of any number of energy projects, increased homelessness, opioid deaths, a health care system which seems incapable of dealing with even a fairly mild pandemic, senior care in a shambles where our elderly died in droves as much from neglect as COVID and on and on.
Judging from the Liberals activities in the run up to the election, while those issues get the occasional nod, the strategy seems to be to spend lots of money in seats the Libs either hold or would like to win. As to substance, the Libs seem very committed to “doing something” about climate change, keeping immigration levels up over 400,000 per year and not being racist. Unfortunately, this is also pretty much the substantive position of the Conservative Party. The CPC’s big selling point is getting rid of Justin and his gender balanced Cabinet of flakes.
No doubt, over the course of a campaign, these positions will be “fleshed out” but there’s where the two main parties stand going into the election. There may be issues surrounding COVID vax mandates for federal employees and for institutions (read banks) which are federally regulated. The current polling suggest Canadians like authoritarian measures to defeat the virus which is why Trudeau floated the mandate and why we have not heard a word against it from the Conservatives.
The paid for media and the CBC – but I repeat myself – will cover the election like a horse race. Polls will be taken and breathlessly reported. A leaders’ debate will be held and performances will be compared. The NDP and the Green Party will be taken seriously for a few weeks. The Bloc will be ignored simply because it does not run outside Quebec.
The consensus position, tacitly agreed upon by the major parties and the major media is that despite COVID and deficits and slow economic activity there is very little need for significant change. The big question being whether Trudeau will gain a majority or if O’Toole can hold him to a minority.
You will notice I do not mention Max Bernier or the Peoples’ Party. I don’t because the PPC plays outside the consensus. The PPC and its supporters think that significant change is absolutely required and that issues like the deficit, immigration, economic development, First Nations policy, housing and health care need new thinking. (I also don’t mention the Maverick Party but will discuss it in a subsequent post.)
The mainstream parties and their captive media will be running in a consensus election fought lightly in a couple of dozen urban ridings in BC and Ontario. Outside those ridings Max and the PPC will be addressing real problems and offering real solutions.
Will it matter? In terms of seats and outcomes, while I would be delighted to see the PPC win a few seats, the real target for the PPC is the national and regional popular vote. Yes, I do know that does not matter electorally. After all, the CPC won the popular vote in the last federal election. (My own sense is that the Maverick Party has some chance of winning seats in Alberta and Saskatchewan which will be discussed in that subsequent post.)
Max and the PPC need to crack the 5% barrier this time out. If they can do that and Max can win in Beauce, they will have sent a huge message to the CPC. That message is important. Now, if Max and the PPC manage to cut through and beat the Greens – not an unrealistic goal – the message that there are real problems which need real solutions will go mainstream whether the gatekeepers like it or not.
There are really two elections coming up: the Tweedledum and Tweedledee, paid for media, horse race and a vote on whether Canada is a serious country.