The $612,000,000 Unchanged Landscape - Does Our Political System Need Fixing?
Canadians woke up Tuesday morning to a virtually unchanged political landscape after a pandemic election they didn't want, which cost $612 million.
Justin Trudeau's Liberals won the election, (if you can actually call it a win) but it was unpopular from the start for its timing, two years ahead of schedule and during a rising fourth wave of COVID-19.
So what is it about politicians? Do they have a short memory? Did the Canadian electorate not ask them to govern together, pass legislation and get things done on their behalf? They spoke with their vote saying "We're not giving any one party free rein, find a way to get along for the next four years. Not two years. Four years." (It isn't an unreasonable expectation.)
Well, two years later, here we are at another election crossroad costing more than half-a-billion-dollar$
The 14th Prime Minister of Canada Got Things Done
By contrast, Lester B. Pearson who served as the 14th Prime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968, was the leader of two back-to-back Liberal minority governments.
During his tenure he achieved the following: His government launched progressive policies such as universal health care, the Canada Student Loan Program, and the Canada Pension Plan. He also introduced the Order of Canada, and the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. Pearson oversaw the creation of the Maple Leaf flag that was implemented in 1965. His government unified Canada's armed forces and kept Canada out of the Vietnam War. In 1967, Canada became the first country in the world to implement a points-based immigration system. After nearly half a decade in power, he resigned as Prime Minister and retired from politics.
But in addition to this ...
Pearson also started a number of Royal Commissions, including the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. These suggested changes that helped create legal equality for women, and brought official bilingualism into being. After Pearson's term in office, French was made an official language, and the Canadian government provided services in both English and French. Pearson himself had hoped that he would be the last unilingual Prime Minister of Canada and fluency in both English and French became an unofficial requirement for candidates for Prime Minister after Pearson left office.
Did I mention the Nobel Peace Prize?
In 1957, prior to becoming Prime Minister, for his role in resolving the Suez Crisis through the United Nations, Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.The selection committee argued that Pearson had "saved the world", but critics accused him of betraying the motherland and Canada's ties with the UK. Pearson and UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld are considered the fathers of the modern concept of peacekeeping. Together, they were able to organize the United Nations Emergency Force by way of a five-day fly-around in early November 1956. His Nobel medal was on permanent display in the front lobby of the Lester B. Pearson Building, the headquarters of Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa. Until, in 2017, the medal was loaned to the Canadian Museum of History, to be displayed in the Canadian History Hall.
Lester B. Pearson Info from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Now back to reality ...
In Waterloo, Bardish Chaggar after running her usual enthusiastic campaign sailed to an easy win and was re-elected collecting 44.5% of the votes. Voter turnout was 65%, down 9% from 2019 election. Bardish stands out and is hugely important to the Liberal Party.
In Guelph, Lloyd Longfield did the same. An easy win for someone engaged in his community. Lloyd was awarded 42% of the votes, nearly doubling his Conservative rival and giving a trouncing to the Animal Protection Party candidate Karen Levenson, who finished with 0.4 per cent and the Communist candidate Tristan Dineen with 0.3 per cent. (You've got to LOVE the democratic system...EVEN if you dislike SNAP middle-of-the-term election-call schemes.)
A Scandal and some GREEN light at the end of the tunnel
Then there is Kitchener Centre.The incumbent Raj Saini, embroiled in allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards his female staff (which he has denied), stepped down, creating an opportunity for the hard-working Green Party candidate Mike Morrice. The hat-wearing climate activist won the riding, and along with Elizabeth May will be the only other Green Party members in the House of Commons given that Green Party leader Annamie Paul lost her own riding to former CTV broadcaster Marci Ien.
Is it any wonder? Under her leadership, the party failed to field a candidate in 86 ridings and didn't release the party's core platform on climate until two weeks before the election. Paul, during the public debates attacked Justin Trudeau for the Jody Wilson-Raybould scandal and accused him of not being a real femenist. She should be pleased then that Marci Ien, a woman of colour, definitively won her riding of Toronto Centre.
O'Toole has no intentions of stepping down anytime soon (Of course he doesn't)
And then there is Erin O'Toole. (No affiliation to O'Toole's Irish Pubs) Mr. O'Toole is the second Conservative leader to go down in flames to Justin Trudeau's liberals. He has probably been looking over his shoulder for a year now wondering when the hungry dogs of his own party will start pacing and growling to be fed a successor or at least given the opportunity to grab the golden ring themselves. Party politics can be a messy, dirty, dishonourable business. (Is it any wonder they insist on calling themselves the Honourable Members of Parliament.)
Other Knuckle-biting contest Liberal Wins
Tim Louis Kitchener-Contestoga had to wait a day or so to find out if he was still employed. Facing the polls twice in two years for the newcomer would have been unsettling. He managed to sqeak out a win both times.
Liberal Valerie Bradford of South Kitchener-Hespeler narrowly took the riding over Conservative candidate Tyler Calver. Both took to Facebook and Twitter (of course they did) to thank supporters and constituents for their support in what has been dubbed the most critical election in recent weeks. (Laughing emoticon.) The South Kitchener-Hespeler seat was formerly held by Marwan Tabbara, who first took office in 2015. He resigned from caucus last year after it was learned he had been charged with assault and perhaps other things :-( (Frowny Face)
Bryan May also experienced election night jitters. The behind...ahead...behind...ahead election results created anxiety in the front runner camp's all evening. May was eventually granted the win. May had 36.9 per cent of the vote. However, Conservative candidate Connie Cody came a close second, with 34.5 per cent. Cody, a person with little political experience, did extremely well against the seasoned May and it could be a signal that the Liberal's hold on Cambridge may be increasingly shifting back towards Blue again. (Cambridge has a history of switching from red to blue and back again ... depending on their level of political displeasure at the time.Punishment or reward. It keeps politicians in their place when they forget why they went to Ottawa in the first place.)
Here's what we got for our money... Look Closely and don't BLINK!
As the above graphics reflect, Canadian voters gave Justin Trudeau a third term but denied him the parliamentary majority which he had called the election to win. The Liberals are leading or elected in 158 of 338 districts, just three more than they entered the election with and short of a majority which requires 170 seats.
Other parties did not fare much better, ending up largely with the same number of seats they had before the election.
"Waste of money" trended on social media (of course it did) as voters questioned the timing and expense involved. Elections Canada projected that it cost $110 million more than the 2019 election, which cost $502 million. (And CRA wants to know what everyday Canadians do with every last penny they earn. Shameful!) (Curious emoticon)
But you get a FREE Pencil with every vote cast ...
$600+ million may seem like a lot of money, however, holding the election during a pandemic generated extra expenses, such as counting a flood of mail-in ballots and supplying single-use pencils, masks and hand sanitizer, said Elections Canada. (WOW! That's a lot of pencils.)
The Trillion Dollar Debt
The Election also happened as the Liberals have run up a record national debt of $1TRILLION to manage the pandemic and pushed budget deficits to highs not seen since World War Two.
“I understand the frustration that some people are feeling," Trudeau told supporters. "They just want things to get back to normal and an election isn’t getting back to normal." (Dah! I'd say!)
In his victory speech, Trudeau maintains that Canadians granted him a "clear mandate" to guide Canada through the pandemic. However, the voters also gave him a clear mandate to work with the minority government in 2019. He has been given the same mandate in 2021. Will our politicians set their political aspirations and possibly arrogance aside and do as they have been instructed to do by We The People? Work together and get things done.
Angus Reid, chairman of the polling institute, said "Nothing happened! Trudeau got less than one-third of popular vote. He treats the election as a victory?"
How long until next time?
Another election may be on the horizon, as minority governments usually do not last long. Trudeau said this month that another election could happen in 18 months if no one wins a parliamentary majority. Was that a threat? A promise? Or inevitable?
Perhaps it's time we chatted with our MP's and let them know that they really DO work for us. (Smile emoticon :-)