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Tuesday
Oct222019

Finally, It Is Over!

Election 2019 has come and gone, and the aftermath will be felt for years to come.

Other than the defeat of Lisa Raitt and Ralph Goodale I wasn’t surprised by the results. With such a poor showing in Alberta and Saskatchewan, watch for Trudeau to appoint Goodale to the Senate and make him a cabinet minister at the same time.

Once again, the Conservatives have not been able to expand their base and while their total percentage of the national vote is up, much of this was from areas they already held. Again, they demonstrated their inability to make major gains in the cities and in Quebec and while they picked up a couple in Atlantic Canada, they once again had a dismal performance failing to come anywhere close to the numbers from 1997-2011.

Overall the results were not a surprise as the party doesn’t reflect modern day Quebec, lacks a credible environment plan and offers little to the millennial generation. Harper at least was able to do well in the 905 area code around Toronto.

The Doug Ford factor was probably responsible for some of the poor showing in the GTA and that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Many people felt Scheer was another Ford and in the end even more cuts were coming.

As is the case when a Conservative leader can’t shut down the abortion issue, it dogged Scheer for much of the campaign. As long as the party base is heavily socially conservative, this issue will be present. You would have thought Scheer could have shut it down the very first time it was raised by reminding the press and voters of Trudeau’s position, but this was left until the end of the campaign. Too late to do any good. The Conservatives need to do a lot of soul searching and find ways to be more reflective of modern Canada and find ways to appeal to metropolitan areas and younger voters. That means moving more towards the center and not going further right. Some how I don’t see that happening.

The Greens managed 3 seats, a pretty poor showing considering all of the hype and press Elizabeth May has received over the years and her “climate emergency” this time around. They will try to spin it as a win, but really? Overall, I wasn’t impressed by their campaign, even if a lot of their policies were interesting.

The NDP will brag that they are the balance of power, but in the end they have lost badly. They at least retained party status and several good MPs have returned.

It will be interesting to see if both the Greens and NDP conduct a leadership review once the dust settles from this campaign.

Watch for a divisive nasty House of Commons once MPs return. Generally, the lifespan of minority governments is limited. Sometime in the next year or so we should be doing this all over again. Only then we will know if any of the parties learnt some lessons from Election 2019.

Monday
Oct212019

Election Day Is Finally Here

Election Day is finally here. In spite of a dismal election campaign by all of the parties exercise your democratic right and vote.

It was one of those campaigns where voters wish a POX on all of them. People I talk to and that includes several partisans, made up their minds walking into the voting booth (as did I). If that is the case, then polling numbers mean nothing and your vote really can make a difference.

The Liberals spent the election promising to use your future tax dollars to buy your vote. Does anyone believe that they will balance their budget in 2040? We are talking my grandchildren and possibly great grandchildren paying for Liberal spending today.

After repeated scandals, Trudeau is still saying “trust me”. Really? Not a chance in hell- he is an embarrassment to our country.

The Conservatives ran a campaign promising to put more money in your pocket. Does anyone believe a government- any government- municipal, provincial or federal will do that? What they give with one hand they take away with another. Someone will pay for the billions of dollars of cuts they promise to make- either consumers or provincial or municipal taxpayers- someone always pays.

While the Liberals offered a vision of a be happy, trust me campaign, the Conservatives never really offered a vision. I remember attending Preston Manning events where he offered a vision of a better future for our children and grandchildren- this time the Conservatives never really managed to link that to their platform- instead it was primarily an anti-Trudeau campaign.

Towards the end of the campaign, the NDP did manage to get some momentum going, but their spending promises are extremely high. Singh improved, but still made classic mistakes especially in health care and then insulting Conservatives. To use the old Conservative attack line, he is just not ready.

The Greens started strong and then seemed to fade towards the end. It is unfortunate that most people see them as a one trick pony- IE the environment. There were some attempts to get the rest of their platform out to voters, but it looked half-hearted at best and there is still far too much focus on western issues. That will change over time, but not this time around.  

Elizabeth May is a decent person and a hard- working MP who is correct that we need more civility in politics and a new way of doing things. But either she needs new advisors, or she is ignoring their advice. One example was when May tipped her hand far too early as to who she would or would not support in a minority government. Having been a senior advisor when the Harper government won a minority, this is a very foolish thing to do. Politics can see some strange combinations emerge and issue after issue gets looked at individually and concessions get made to advance another party’s platform items.

And of course we have the Bloc who surged in the end. My guess is they will send a strong contingent to Ottawa.

So here we are today- voters faced with little positive in the way of a choice. But your vote can make a difference this time if only to express your displeasure with all of the parties. It is certainly time for the two main parties to take a long hard look at themselves- both need a make over if they are to survive the next generation of voters.

Exercise your democratic right and vote- in many parts of the world that is impossible. It is a freedom we enjoy and need to protect.

Sunday
Oct132019

Times Have Changed and Not for The Better

At last night’s rally, Trudeau was surrounded by bodyguards and it is reported that he was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Like him or not, this is not a healthy sign for democracy in Canada.

No politician or their family should ever feel threated.

However, it is a sign of the times as faceless people hiding behind their computers can throw insults, threats and create fake news stories simply because they dislike a person’s political position on an issue, or they dislike a reporter’s story.

Follow Twitter for just a few minutes and you will see all of this in action. Twitter needs to insist that a person’s real name be visible on all accounts including mine.

I have been following politics since about 1956 and an active participant since the early 70s and I have witnessed first-hand this change. Politics as played now is quite vicious.

While threats against politicians are nothing new, we had some on my boss (a cabinet minister in 1987 that got the RCMP involved), the overall tone of political debate is now way over the top and excessively nasty. There is nothing wrong with forcefully expressing your opinion in the House of Commons, but all too often it has moved on to personal attacks (especially in public), that have nothing to do with policy positions. To that end Elizabeth May is right- it is time for real dialogue to return.

A new set of Standing Orders or rules covering an MPs conduct in the House during Question Period would also help. If you look back at the old rules or procedures, you were expected to ask your question without reading it from a paper, your phone etc. Very few modern-day politicians would be capable of doing that or capable enough to make the questions as nasty as they are today. Questions today are often written by the Leader’s Office staff and handed to MPs to read out in Question Period.

All to say, let’s clean up political discourse in this country, we shouldn’t let it sink to the bottom like our neighbours to the south.

“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country.” Prime Minister John Diefenbaker

Thursday
Oct102019

Are You Confused Yet?

The count down to election day is on. Have you decided who you will be voting for?

Probably not, if you are like most people I meet.

Talk about an uninspiring campaign. One party is as bad as the other and none of them make you want to run out and vote for them.

Most political campaigns have a degree of BS to them. Every Canadian knows that. If you have worked in politics on the Hill or in the civil service, you know that not a single political party will ever be able to carry out all of its campaign promises in the first 4 years of their mandate.

Most parties agree some form of pharmacare is necessary, few would disagree (especially if you are a senior or a low income Canadian). You decide whether or not you agree with the estimates provided by the political parties or the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). I spent decades working on Parliament hill and I will believe the PBO every time over politicians.

The Conservatives haven’t inspired me yet. I know Andrew Scheer as a very decent guy, but their policies this time haven’t left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s hard to have a realistic climate plan when you are pledging to support pipelines and therefore big oil.

The NDP, well they are the NDP and I still have vivid memories of Bob Rae’s Ontario. If millennial voters who are now supposed to be the largest voting block move from Trudeau to the NDP, they can become a force- but will they show up to vote?

Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada- well let’s not go there. I know Max and best I can say is get some new advisors and smarten up.

I like a lot of the Green Party platform as well, but know one can answer these questions for me- if we all go electric- cars, public transportation, housing etc.- what happens when hit with a hurricane, ice storm, blizzard and all power is knocked out? Who is going to pay for the necessary infrastructure- IE power dams, solar panels, windmills or whatever? How much will that cost?

And the Liberals- sadly they are not the old Liberal Party, they are more of a personality cult now. They will say and do whatever they think some voters will buy- just don’t expect them to actually carry out their promises.

John Diefenbaker summed up the Liberals pretty accurately and while he was speaking about the Liberals of decades ago, his words fit the Trudeau Liberals quite nicely

“The Liberals are the flying saucers of politics. No one can make head nor tail of them and they never are seen twice in the same place.”

Tuesday
Sep102019

The Silly Season Has Arrived

The silly season has arrived. Normally I would reserve that for the so called “news reports” we receive over the summer, but there is an election on October 21.

Party war rooms are already hard at work, with coffee drenched staffers pouring out hundreds of Twitter tweets, smack downs and stupid comments daily.

Gone are the days when MPs of different political stripes could go after each other in Question Period and then sit down for a quiet chat together minutes later. For instance, in the mid 1980’s Dan Heap was the NDP immigration critic and while a very tough opponent, I often sat with his staff to look at immigration cases that they were involved with on behalf of constituents. On quite a few occasions we were able to help.

A lot of this change in tone was triggered by the attacks of the Liberal “Rat Pack” on the Mulroney government which garnered them many headlines, often undeserved. Who remembers Shelia Copps crawling over a table top to get at Conservative minister Sinclair Stevens?

The hard shift from friendly antagonists to the other side is the enemy accelerated in the 1990s and became the norm after 2003.

Over the year’s technology has enabled the attacks, drive by smears and innuendo to be delivered quicker and even nastier in tone as people can now hide behind their computer screen and deliver them anonymously. You only have to spend a few minutes on Twitter to see this in action.

It was former Liberal leader Michael Ignatief who summed it up best:

“There is no doubt that the way politics is practiced now is much different than it was in the past. Today it is meaner and nastier and you are either on side and "right" or opposed and "wrong." You are my brother or my enemy. There is no room for compromise and no middle ground exists.”

Ignatief also said that today "it is more like war, with words as weapons."

Quotes worth remembering as we move towards October 19th.

The silly season, attack ads, fake news and everything else that goes with modern day elections has arrived.