A gallery of editorial cartoons during the September 20 2021 federal election campaign:
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday September 18, 2021
This was no ordinary election campaign, but perhaps not ‘important’
If the polls are to be believed, we have all just wasted five weeks of our lives. An election that, in law, should never have been called, the reason for which has never been adequately explained, limped through a listless campaign on track to producing a Parliament remarkably like the one it was supposed to replace. The “most important election since 1945,” according to Justin Trudeau, might as well never have happened.
Compare the most recent polls (at time of writing) to those taken at the same stage of the previous campaign. The similarity is striking: The Liberals and Conservatives are again in the low 30s, with the NDP at around 19 and the Bloc at a little over six. The seat projections, likewise, look eerily familiar: The Liberals are projected to win about 150 seats, the Conservatives about 120, the NDP and the Bloc about 30 each. Only on the margins has there been much change: the Greens have lost half of their support, while the People’s Party of Canada have tripled theirs.
But. Well, there are lots of buts. National polls mean little: to really get an idea of what’s going on, you have to drill down into the regional figures. Polls are snapshots, not predictions: Much could change in the last days of the campaign. And the polls are often wrong. Turnout is an especially difficult thing to model: Are Conservative voters more motivated than Liberal? Will NDP voters show up? Are PPC supporters so angry they will crawl over the proverbial broken glass to vote, or so alienated that they will not bother?
So much for where we are – how did we get here? At the start of the campaign, each of the party leaders faced their own personal and strategic challenges. For Mr. Trudeau, the personal challenge was his faded popular appeal: Once the Liberal Party’s most significant asset, he had become its most significant liability, under the accumulated weight of broken promises, ethical lapses and sundry other controversies. The party led all polls going into the election, some by double digits. But the leader trailed the party.
The strategic challenge, as for any Liberal leader, was to win the “progressive primary.” A substantial majority of Canadians might be described as left of centre. But their vote is divided among several parties, with no enduring loyalty to any of them. In 2015, many of those voters were drawn to the Liberal side by a youthful, charismatic leader and a positive vision of change; in 2021, they would have to be frightened into it, as the party best placed to avert the dread prospect of a Conservative government.
For Erin O’Toole, personal unpopularity also presented a challenge: His precampaign approval numbers were even worse than Mr. Trudeau’s. A year into the job as Conservative Party Leader, people still did not know much about him, but what they did know they didn’t much like.
His strategic challenge: Conservative support has a high floor and a low ceiling. Where Liberal support can range anywhere from 20 per cent to 50 per cent, the Conservatives can reliably count on winning at least 30 per cent of the vote, but have difficulty getting beyond 37 per cent or 38 per cent. Only once in the past eight elections, in 2011, have they managed it.
To remedy that, Mr. O’Toole needed to shift the Conservatives from an angry, grievance-based party, more concerned with turning out its existing supporters than reaching out to new ones, into one that could attract centrist voters. The aim was not just to expand the Conservative vote, but to distribute it more efficiently: fewer votes wasted racking up huge majorities in the West, more going to win those tight races in suburban Ontario and Quebec.
That meant presenting the Conservatives as a safe, inoffensive choice, largely indistinguishable from the Liberals ideologically, but with a less polarizing leader. (In Quebec, where votes divide on different lines, it meant pitching the Tories as a more pragmatic version of the Bloc: nearly as nationalistic, but with more ability to “deliver the goods.”)
The catch: people might believe that about Mr. O’Toole. But would they believe it about his party? For Mr. O’Toole, in short, the problem was his base; for Mr. Trudeau, it was him. (Continued: Andrew Coyne, The Globe & Mail)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday September 9, 2021
Lacklustre second leaders debate short on emotion, heavy on talking points
With less than two weeks before election day and an increasingly tight race between parties, Canada’s political leaders had a largely flat debate Wednesday, where each participant mostly served viewers pre-packaged lines on hot-button issues such as the deficits, the environment, healthcare and Indigenous policy.
One of the few lively clashes occurred between Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, not on a substantive policy issue, but rather on if Trudeau was Quebecer or not.
“You do not have a monopoly over Quebec,” Trudeau said to Blanchet, nearly yelling. “You don’t get to accuse me of not being Quebecer enough.”
On stage with Trudeau and Blanchet during the debate Wednesday night were Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party of Canada Leader Annamie Paul.
The Peoples’ party’s Maxime Bernier did not meet the independent commission’s criteria for participation.
The debate was moderated and covered five themes: climate, cost of living and public finances, Indigenous peoples, cultural industries and cultural identity, justice and foreign policy, and pandemic and healthcare
“I’m sorry Mr. Trudeau, but this is an undesired election,” moderator Patrice Roy said to begin the debate, following up with a question to leaders on whether they’d respect a four-year mandate regardless of the outcome (minority or majority) of the Sept. 20 election.
Trudeau did not answer the question, but O’Toole, Singh, Paul and Blanchet each in vague terms seemed to say they would.
“The fact that we are in an election is a consequence of the fact that people are not looking to work together, that things have become hyper partisan,” Paul said.
Just like during the first debate last week, Trudeau was repeatedly grilled by opposition leaders about his decision to call a “selfish” election, a question that already seemed to annoy him just minutes into the debate.
“Viewers can see how deep the differences are in our positions as to how the pandemic should be handled,” Trudeau retorqued at one point. “Canadians should have a say in that.
In addition to moderators Patrice Roy and Noémi Mercier, four francophone reporters were also chosen to quiz the leaders during rapid-fire question periods that were praised on social media for not pulling any punches.
For example, political analyst Hélène Buzzetti asked O’Toole, whose party released its platform costing just before the debate, how he would balance the budget and reduce deficits. “Is it the “O’Toole magic,” she asked after the first half of his response.
O’Toole disagreed while repeating once again that he “has a plan.”
Shortly after, she grilled Singh on his plan to fill the government’s coffers by taxing the rich and multinational companies. How will you do it, she asked, is it “magic thinking?” Singh also disagreed, reiterating his promise to go after the ultra-wealthy.
The first leaders’ faceoff was between Singh and Paul on mandatory vaccination policy. Both leaders agreed that it was important to push for vaccination, but Paul dodged a question on whether she supports mandatory vaccination.
Eventually, the moderator asked Trudeau if by pushing people to get vaccinated more, he wasn’t pushing some to rebel further and avoid vaccination. Trudeau said it was a “false debate” and that it was time to get people vaccinated to return to normal life.
The moderator then asked Trudeau how much Canada paid for all our vaccines, which Trudeau once again avoided. “We paid competitive prices, but for competitive reasons, I cannot tell you,” he said.
On the topic of labour shortages that are rampant across the country, leaders were divided on solutions, where O’Toole and Blanchet argued that COVID-19 benefits like the Canada Recovery Benefit needed to be phased out. Singh, Trudeau and Paul disagreed, with the latter challenging others to replace those benefits with universal basic income.
Just like in last week’s debate on TVA, O’Toole face some difficult moment when he was criticized by both Trudeau and Blanchet for his plan to replace the Liberal’s bilateral agreements with most provinces to fund $10 per day daycare spots with a tax credit directly to parents.
Trudeau accused O’Toole of “not even understanding” Quebec’s daycare system, noting that low-income Quebecers “don’t even pay for daycare.”
The topic of environment was launched by a question from 11-year-old Charles, who said that he was already concerned for his children’s future due to the “climate crisis.”
In their responses, Trudeau pointed to the government’s net-zero legislation, O’Toole touted the Conservative plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, and Paul argued that on climate, the Greens are the only choice. Singh criticized Trudeau for increasing GHG emissions during his time as prime minister.
Each leader was eventually asked what they would do with the TransMountain pipeline that the Trudeau government purchased to develop. The Liberal leader said Indigenous communities needed the money from the project, O’Toole said that it was necessary for Western Canadian workers, and Blanchet noted that he would use the money from it to help fund Alberta’s “much needed” transition away from oil.
Paul said that she was opposed to the pipeline and that she does not expect anyone to draw a profit from it, whereas Singh said he was opposed to the project, but when pressed, said an NDP government would considering keeping it.
Trudeau said that “every other leader’s plan here relies on magic thinking”.
To open questions on Indigenous issues, leaders were asked if they would make First Nations’ languages as well as Inuit and Metis as official languages of Canada. Most leaders skirted the question all the while emphasizing the importance of preserving those languages and making sure their speakers can use them when accessing government services. (The National Post)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday July 9, 2021
Trudeau denies it, but signs point to early election in Canada
Covid-19 cases are down in Canada and some are interpreting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cross-country travel this week as a surefire sign of an imminent election.
Trudeau’s whistle stop in Calgary on Wednesday started with a blunt question from RED FM host Rishi Nagar, who noted the prime minister’s back-to-back pit stops in Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan and in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., to make a C$420-million funding announcement to help Algoma Steel phase out coal and create jobs.
“All this shows that you are in an election campaign mode,” Nagar said. Trudeau rejected the characterization.
“Actually, it doesn’t. It shows that we are getting things done,” Trudeau said in this first in-studio interview in 16 months. “I’ve been taking advantage of the fact that our case loads are now lower that people are getting vaccinated, to be able to travel a little bit more and make the announcements on things that we’ve been working on for many, many months.”
Nearly 78 percent of eligible Canadians have so far received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Forty-four percent are fully vaccinated. Growing in parallel to Canada’s vaccination rates is speculation about the timing of a federal election — and anxiety over how it could be as early as late summer.
Political watchers have been viewing everything through an election lens: the return of Trudeau’s clean-shaven look, inflation climbing to its highest rate in a decade, the anticipated timing of the Canada-U.S. border reopening, a free one-time check for seniors timed for the week of Aug. 16, an increased number of in-person funding announcements, and, according to former Liberal strategist David Herle, the fact Liberal MPs have been nudged to take their vacations in July.
The country’s attention is split. Many in Canada are focused on securing second doses and family reunions, grief over the discovery of more than 1,000 remains in unmarked graves on the grounds of former Indian residential schools, and the extreme heat that saw hundreds of “sudden and unexpected deaths” in the western province of British Columbia, triggering renewed focus to climate change.
On Thursday, the prime minister’s plane landed in British Columbia where he announced a new C$3.2-billion agreement with the province to cut child care fees in half by the end of 2022.
“We’re making your life easier and more affordable,” Trudeau said in the campaign-style announcement. He said the agreement would see the creation of 30,000 high-quality spaces over the next five years. “This is what it means to be a feminist government.”
Trudeau is teasing news about the promise of a national child care and early learning system. It’s an anticipated update to a marquee proposal from this year’s federal budget that will have the attention of parents across the country, especially in vote-rich southern Ontario where there are 45 seats to be won. Annual child care costs in Toronto are the country’s highest, topping C$21,000, according to the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives.
“I’m very much looking forward to making big announcements on child care in the coming weeks,” Trudeau said Wednesday.
Trudeau wields power in a minority government, which means he needs the support of opposition parties to pass legislation. As prime minister, it also means he has the power to call an election.
Recent polls have placed the Liberals in single to double-digit leads, throwing open a window for Trudeau to dissolve Parliament in an attempt to turn his minority government — which has been functioning throughout the pandemic — into a majority.
The next fixed election date is Oct. 16, 2023. But under Canada’s constitutional monarchy system, the prime minister can request to dissolve Parliament at any time to trigger an election. For an incumbent government, that ability to choose a date and prepare is an advantage.
“For the Liberals, it’s the question of whether the current trends will hold into the fall,” veteran polls analyst Éric Grenier told POLITICO. Grenier, who recently launched The Writ, said Liberals will have to take stock of the political environment as the pandemic subsides.
The longer the Liberals wait, the more they risk squandering the opportunity to take advantage of the Conservatives’ polling numbers, which Grenier said are lower than those pulled by former leader Andrew Scheer in the lead up to the 2019 federal election.
“There are also some municipal elections in fall, that could complicate things,” Grenier said. “I don’t think that would be enough necessarily to prevent them from calling an election.” (Politico)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday June 18, 2021
Green Party’s Annamie Paul survives emergency meeting over leadership
The leadership of the Green Party’s Annamie Paul is safe — for now — after party brass decided late Tuesday not to kick-start a process that could have ultimately ousted her as leader of the party.
The party’s federal council — which is the governing body of the party — held an emergency meeting Tuesday night that lasted more than three-and-a-half hours. Officials were expected to hold a vote on whether to trigger a complex process under the party’s constitution that could have declared no-confidence in Paul’s leadership.
That vote did not end up taking place, multiple sources with knowledge of the meeting told CBC News.
Instead, sources say, the federal council adopted a separate motion asking Paul to publicly repudiate one of Paul’s former senior advisers, Noah Zatzman, who accused many politicians — including unspecified Green MPs — of discrimination and antisemitism in a social media post last month.
The motion also calls for Paul to “explicitly support” the Green Party caucus. If not, the motion says, Paul would face a vote of non-confidence on July 20.
Tuesday night’s decision follows a difficult few weeks for the party, which has been ripped apart by internal disputes over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As violence in the region escalated, Paul issued a statement calling for a ceasefire and condemning both Palestinian rocket attacks and excessive Israeli military force, an apparent attempt to put forward a moderate position close to that of the Trudeau government.
Green MP Jenica Atwin — who has since left the Green caucus to join the Liberals — ripped into Paul’s statement on Twitter. “It is a totally inadequate statement,” Atwin wrote. “Forced evictions must end. I stand with Palestine and condemn the unthinkable airstrikes in Gaza. End Apartheid.”
Green MP Paul Manly also took issue with Paul’s statement, saying the planned removal of Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah “is ethnic cleansing.”
Zatzman responded with a Facebook post stating that Greens “will work to defeat you and bring in progressive climate champions who are antifa and pro LGBT and pro indigenous sovereignty and Zionists!!!!!”
Zatzman is no longer an adviser to the leader. His six-month contract, slated to expire on July 4 and obtained by The Canadian Press, stipulates that the party will pay Zatzman a fee for time worked beyond 100 hours per month.
CBC News reached out to the Green Party, Paul and Zatzman for comment after Tuesday’s meeting. (CBC)