Cartoons are posted below but the most recent one is at least one week late.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday September 12, 2019
There is deep angst in Canada ahead of this fall’s election
We may have voted for hope, optimism and sunny days in 2015 but Canadians don’t appear to be very optimistic heading into the Fall of 2019.
Canadians do see a strong economy right now. Assessment of their personal finances has gone from 32 per cent positive (Q4 2015) to 46 per cent today and their assessment of their job security has grown from 39 per cent positive (Q4 2015) to 52 per cent today.
On the eve of the writ dropping, one would assume from these numbers that the federal Liberals would very much like to have the 2019 ballot question be: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”
But it won’t be, because despite these views and some impressive economic numbers at the macro level, Canadians aren’t optimistic about their longer-term prospects. Pocket-book issues and concerns over affordability are a common thread connecting most of the top issues Canadians identify as priorities: healthcare, the economy, housing, climate change, and taxes.
Our concerns are more than economic. There is deep angst about the direction of the country. Canadians are questioning the value and the very role of government, politicians and political parties in their lives and many politicians are going to run into the buzz saw of growing cynicism once they start knocking on doors. For starters:
* 67 per cent (unchanged since 2016) agree that the country’s economy is rigged to the advantage of the rich and powerful
* 61 per cent (vs. 56 per cent in 2016) agree that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me”
* 57 per cent (vs. in 47 per cent November 2016) say the country is “going in the wrong direction”
* 52 per cent (up dramatically from 37 per cent in 2016) agree that “Canadian society is broken”
This level of angst and cynicism among Canadians is going to pose a challenge for all political parties. Delivering policy ideas along with messaging to motivate supporter turn-out will be difficult, and they will need to find a balance between positive, forward-looking messages and empathetic, “we get you now” messages.
Imagine if you were a federal candidate hearing this at the door while looking for a vote: “I think the economy is stacked against me, I don’t think you care about me, I think our society is broken and our country is headed in the wrong direction. Tell me how you are going to fix this and why I should vote for you?” (Global News)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 11, 2019
Why is it so hard for Independent candidates to get elected to Canada’s House of Commons?
Canada has not had a strong Independent movement since Confederation when there were several Independent politicians in government. They were called “loose fish” and operated separately of political structures, explains John English, director of the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International history at Trinity College.
When the party system began to take hold at the turn of the century under Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, these “loose fish” declined in numbers. The party structure became the main source of funding for candidates and also provided patronage appointments to important positions such as the railway or the post office.
Independents made a brief resurgence in the Second World War. When Prime Minister Mackenzie King broke his promise of conscription, Quebec Liberals declared themselves Independent (but still affiliated with the Liberal party for the most part).
By the 1960s, Independents became especially rare in Canadians politics, limited only to “those candidates who got kicked out of their party or decided their interest didn’t align with party values or the party leader,” English said.
The debate over the strength and influence of central party power in politics isn’t new, either. Collenette says this discussion has been occurring within parties for years, but “the question now is larger because its not contained in the party anymore.”
The main reason Canada doesn’t have more Independent politicians is because “they don’t win,” Thomas said. Before campaign finance legislation changes were created in 1974, local electoral campaign officers would identify supporters and then get supporter to learn the name of the candidate. Now, voters are more likely to recognize party labels than individual names.
David Moscrop, political scientist and author of “Too Dumb for Democracy,” agrees that central party authority needs to be loosened but worries about the tradeoffs. First, it’ll require a lot of cooperation from parties, civil service, staffers, leadership and media. (“I don’t think that is going to happen,” Moscrop says.) Then you have to balance loosening party control while maintaining party cohesion. (“How do you do that?” he asks.) (National Observer)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday September 10, 2019
Do the Greens have what it takes to pass the NDP?
“The NDP,” Stockwell Day told CBC’s Power Panel last week, “is toast.”
The statement was somewhat surprising coming from the former Conservative cabinet minister, who had been defending NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s political potential for months. Not that surprising, though, given the number of people writing off the New Democrats these days.
Even Charlie Angus admitted a few days ago he’s been reading his party’s obituary for a long time. Angus insisted that obit isn’t ready to be printed, but his counter-argument was all about the kind of power New Democrats could enjoy in a minority government — one led by another party.
Singh himself all but acknowledged recently how low the party is setting its sights in 2019 when he ripped into Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer over his 2005 comments on same-sex marriage. He said the NDP would not support a Conservative minority. But why would he even talk about a minority government at this point? Singh is supposed to be running to form a government of his own — not to prop one up (or knock one down).
I don’t like to write any party off. I remember how many people (in the media and outside of it) used to say it would be a cold day in hell before Justin Trudeau ever became prime minister. (Prior to the last election, you’ll remember, the Liberals were polling a distant third.)
The campaign changed things. That’s what campaigns do. I think just about anything could happen in the coming campaign as well.
But it’s pretty bleak out there for the Dippers right now: not a lot of cash in the coffers, polling below the Greens in Quebec (the single most important province for the party) and nowhere near a full slate of candidates in the days before the real campaign begins.
The natural heir to whatever ground the New Democrats have lost would appear to be the Green Party. But that isn’t a given.
First came an announcement that 14 New Democrats in New Brunswick, all provincial save for one member of the federal executive, were defecting to the Green Party because they didn’t like their chances as NDP candidates.
Then, one of the defectors told The Canadian Press and CBC Radio’s As It Happens he’s talked to people in the province who are uncomfortable with Singh’s religion.
A day went by and the NDP started calling around newsrooms, saying not all the people on the defectors’ list are actually leaving for the Greens. A handful came out publicly to say they’re sticking with the NDP. Singh said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May “has a lot to answer for.”
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May released a statement. “I won’t attack (Singh),” she says — after attacking him at length, accusing him of blowing off New Brunswick and reminding him that “being a federal party leader is hard work.” All of which should tell you that Trudeau and Scheer are quite right when they predict the coming campaign will be “nasty.”
The defectors story is complicated and weird. Does it point to organizational problems for the Greens and the NDP? Probably.
If the Greens orchestrated this regional coup, they need to work on their coup-making skills. Some of the people on the initial list of defectors reportedly thought they were simply talking about a merger with the Greens. Others said they didn’t even know they’d been added to the list. (One Green candidate in the Maritimes gulped when I called to ask about this week’s events, calling them “embarrassing.”) (CBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday September 7, 2019
Trudeau snubs Munk, Maclean’s/Citytv debates but will attend commission debates
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is committing to taking part in two federal election debates and is willing to do a third — but will be a no-show for both the Munk and Maclean’s/Citytv debates, despite efforts to convince the Liberal leader to take part.
The two debates that Trudeau has committed to attending are being organized by the Leaders’ Debates Commission, which was established after the last election and is led by former governor general David Johnston.
“The commission was established after the last election where the governing party tried to game the system and make sure the fewest number of Canadians engaged in the debates. We think that’s wrong,” Daniel Lauzon, the Liberals’ director of communications and policy for the campaign, said in a statement.
“The commission debates will be widely distributed on television, radio, digital and social streaming platforms and reach the largest possible audience.”
The decision means that Trudeau will not be taking part in the Munk Debates on foreign policy, set for Oct. 1 — a debate Trudeau did take part in during the 2015 election.
It also means the prime minister will not participate in the Maclean’s/Citytv leaders debate scheduled to take place September 12.
So far, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May have all agreed to participate in the Munk and Maclean’s/Citytv debates.
A spokesperson for the Conservative Party said the debates are about Canadians, not the leaders, and Scheer would be attending all election debates.
“We know Justin Trudeau is a formidable debater, as he proved in the last election. The only reason he would have for not wanting to attend all the debates is that he’s afraid to defend his record,” Brock Harrison said in a statement.
During the 2015 election, then-prime minister Stephen Harper refused to participate in the English language debate being run by the consortium of broadcasters, the predecessor to the commission.
Harper instead agreed to participate in the Maclean’s/Citytv debate and the Globe and Mail debate, on top of the French language consortium debate, TVAs’ debate and the bilingual Munk debate on foreign policy.
The opposition at the time criticized Harper’s decision to snub the English language consortium debate in favour of smaller debates, some of which were only streamed online, as a move that prevented the largest possible audience from viewing the exchanges between party leaders.
Trudeau was keen to participate in multiple debates in 2015 — an election that saw the longest campaign period in modern Canadian history. But Trudeau’s critics now argue that he is cherry-picking debates for political reasons.
In the last election he was the third-party leader and had much to gain from engaging with other leaders at every opportunity. But as prime minister, Trudeau exposes himself to greater political risk by agreeing to additional debates. (CBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday September 6, 2019
No one thought a UK Prime Minister could be worse than Theresa May. Until now
Could someone be worse than Theresa May, the UK Prime Minister widely panned as “the Maybot”?
By the end of her inglorious three-year stint in Downing Street, even her most loyal supporters admitted that the robotic May would never be regarded as one of the greatest British leaders.
By comparison, Boris Johnson’s off-the-cuff, sunny disposition made him a darling of Conservative Party members who chose him for the top job when May finally resigned, defeated by her inability to get a Brexit deal through Parliament.
On his first day as Prime Minister, Johnson promised a bold new Brexit deal, bashing the “doubters, doomsters, gloomsters” and the political class who he said had forgotten about the British people they serve. It was as if an upbeat attitude alone could be enough to overcome any adversity on the United Kingdom’s path to exiting the European Union.
For a moment, it seemed he would breathe new life and, in his words, “positive energy,” into the Brexit process. Some thought, just maybe, he could manage to do what May did not.
How quickly it all went wrong.
Johnson has lost every one of his first votes in parliament, an unprecedented record in the modern era. Undeterred, the Prime Minister purged 21 members of his parliamentary party who voted against him, blowing apart his majority.
Then, his efforts to secure a snap general election — with the goal of replacing the sacked lawmakers with a new slate of candidates more aligned with his hard-Brexit views — were scuppered when opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to play along.
Now, he is effectively trapped in Downing Street, with Corbyn holding the keys. The government plans to propose new elections again on Monday, but the opposition leader says his party will only support the move when its efforts to prevent a no-deal Brexit are locked down.
“Certainly his biggest tactical mistake so far was not to realize that it was Corbyn, as leader of the opposition, who effectively had veto power over when a general election could be held,” said Professor Tony Travers, director of the Institute of Public Affairs at the London School of Economics.
“It looks as if the Conservatives and their advisers thought that if they offered a general election to the Labour Party it would jump at the opportunity, but the way things have turned out — the coming together of the no-deal bill and the possibility that the opposition can frustrate a general election — creates the possibility of keeping the Prime Minister trapped in government, unable to fulfill his commitment to leave the EU come what may.”
Now the newly minted PM finds himself in a position that May never was — on his knees, begging the opposition for a general election.
How did it come to this? (Continued: CNN)