Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday August 2, 2019
A lot at stake for Canadians in this election
In a perfect world we should see an election as an outward symbol of something almost sacred, the culmination of generations of struggle for electoral equality and the representation of popular will.
That, of course, is not how it all seems. An election is called, and the usual pundits, consultants, and advisers are wheeled out, many of them seemingly more concerned with winning than with ideas, with what they consider a great game, as they mimic characters from The West Wing, and throw around fog rather than clarity.
Be that as it may, it’s all we’ve got, and we should see it as a moral maze, an opportunity to tread through the lies and the nastiness and reach a place that might, just might, achieve the best for the most. I would never tell anybody who to vote for, but I will suggest some of the stepping-stones in the maze that should be avoided.
The People’s Party of Canada borders on the cultish, and is built around one man, Maxime Bernier, who never forgave the Conservatives for failing to elect him as leader. He only lost on the 13th ballot, was still ahead on the 12th, and lost with more than 49 per cent of the vote. He is an angry man, convinced he was the heir apparent denied, at the last moment, his rightful inheritance – and by a much lesser man.
His party has made up policies in a scream of hysterical pragmatism, has become exponentially more right wing, and as such has assembled a list of frequently unattractive and volatile eccentrics as parliamentary candidates. They rely on a dark consensus of ill-informed panic, and while they certainly won’t win the election, they’ve brought into the relative mainstream what was formerly the preserve of the internet basement. Any party that tries to exploit the most hideous aspects of a society – racism, fear, and panic, – should be rejected.
Bernier has taken some of the most raw and strange elements away from the Conservatives, but Andrew Scheer still has a number of such people within his ranks. While Scheer makes occasional statements about inclusion and tolerance, he’s been far too slow in jettisoning those who clearly don’t share this view of Canada; for example, his repeated and long-term refusal to march in any Pride parades, in Ottawa or in his riding, has become ridiculous. Attending Pride should not be a party political action, but an affirmation of diversity and a physical statement that LGBTQ people are welcomed and loved. Mr. Scheer, your absence speaks volumes, and your attempts to obfuscate are not convincing anybody.
While Scheer may not be personally responsible, the anti-Trudeau campaign on social media and particularly in Western Canada, is vitriolic and dangerous. I’ve found the Liberals to be disappointing in government, but the visceral personal attacks on the prime minister resemble the worst of U.S. politics. As with the late John McCain’s intervention regarding Barack Obama during the 2008 election, Scheer should make it quite clear that this scandalous vendetta has to stop.
The Liberals? In the early days they relied far too heavily on the charisma of their leader, and he was given a very easy run by the media. That all began to change, and various errors and scandals that may have been treated more leniently, and in some cases even forgiven, stuck firm. As always with the Liberals, they promise more than they can deliver, but there have been some tangible successes, particularly for those most in need.
The NDP is still the political conscience of Canada, but the problem with consciences is that people tend to listen to them only when it’s convenient. If it were otherwise, the world would be a much better place. As for the Greens, Elizabeth May is arguably the most principled and likeable politician in the country, and it’s a great shame that her honesty sometimes gets her into trouble in this cynical and unforgiving age.
So it begins. As I say, tread through the moral maze carefully, and look beyond the style and the show, the bots and the bullies. It may just be that this one is going to matter more than most.- Michael Coren (Toronto Star)