Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday November 7, 2019
NDP lost a lot, but Jagmeet Singh risks losing more
Justin Trudeau will now have to find dance partners from the NDP and/or the Greens to govern. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh ran a strong campaign. His line during the English language debate that voters did not have to choose between “Mr. Delay” (Trudeau) or “Mr. Deny” (Scheer) was the campaign’s most memorable zinger.
But Liberal alarmism over the prospects of NDP votes leading to a Scheer government appears to have spooked enough would-be New Democrat voters to contain any orange waves.
Singh lost all but one of his 14 Quebec MPs, the result of ground ceded in the lacklustre first 18 months of his leadership.
The compensation, if it is one, is the influence he may wield over the Liberals.
But a glance at the history books should be enough to convince Singh to tread lightly when it comes to dealing with the Grits. One of his predecessors, David Lewis, propped up Pierre Trudeau’s government after the latter won a plurality of just two seats in 1972. By the time Lewis decided to bring down Trudeau’s government in 1974, he was in disrepute with voters, having received all of the blame and none of the credit for the preceding two years in power. In the ensuing election, the NDP lost half its parliamentary caucus.
The mercy is that no-one wants, or can afford, another election. MPs first elected in 2015 will look covetously towards pensions that will become vested after six years. Members from all sides of the House may be less enthusiastic to risk rich retirement plans.
The configuration of the new House of Commons suggests we may be about to encounter that most rare of beasts — a strong, stable, minority government. – John Ivison (National Post)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday November 6, 2019
Elizabeth May calls it quits. Could the Greens do better with someone else?
Over the last decade, Elizabeth May became one of the strongest and most widely known personalities in Canadian politics. Under her leadership, the Green Party of Canada achieved the best results in its 35-year history.
Also under May, the Greens peaked at less than seven per cent of the popular vote and three seats in a 338-member House of Commons.
This is where the challenge lies in assessing May’s leadership and legacy.
By any measure, she’s the most successful leader in her party’s history. But that success was limited. And it’s fair to ask whether she and her party should have accomplished much more, particularly in the recent general election.
To May’s credit, her share of the political oxygen around Parliament Hill consistently exceeded her party’s share of popular support.
She convinced Stéphane Dion to not run a Liberal candidate against her in 2008 — when she chose to pursue a long-shot campaign against Peter MacKay in the Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova — and then talked her way into the televised leaders debates despite the fact that her party had never won a seat.
After she was elected in 2011 — defeating a Conservative incumbent in Saanich-Gulf Islands in British Columbia — she became a prominent voice calling not only for action on climate change but also for better decorum in the House of Commons and more respect for the sovereign power of Parliament. She was a constant presence in the House and a regular guest at parliamentary committees, where she would turn up bearing amendments she wished to propose.
She took advantage of every opportunity afforded her as a member of Parliament, all while making her case that the institution, its members and political parties needed to change. The Greens, she vowed, would be different — if they could ever elect enough MPs to form a proper caucus.
In 2008, her first election as leader, the Greens received 6.8 per cent of the vote, a two-point jump over the previous election result; the party still failed to elect an MP. Three years later, the Greens focused their efforts on getting May into the House. They succeeded, but the party’s national support slipped to 3.9 per cent. In 2015, its share of the popular vote fell again, to 3.5 per cent.
The Greens elected their second MP in May when Paul Manly won a by-election in British Columbia. He and May were then joined in October by Jenica Atwin, who pulled off a surprise victory in Fredericton.
Three MPs is three more than the Greens had before Elizabeth May became leader. But three MPs is also a smaller number of victories than the Greens seemed capable of winning at the outset of this fall’s campaign.
In early September, the Greens were polling at 11 per cent and seemed to have a shot at overtaking the New Democrats for third place. The NDP was weaker than it had been in 15 years, and the issue of climate change — the Green Party’s raison d’être — was more salient than it had ever been. It was possible to imagine the Greens winning a dozen or more seats.
In announcing her departure on Monday, May boasted that the Greens received more than a million votes in this year’s election. But the party’s share of the popular vote — 6.5 per cent — was still below the 2008 mark.
She also celebrated the fact that the party had “doubled” its vote in Quebec — which sounds more impressive if you don’t know that means the party went from 2.3 per cent in Quebec in 2015 to 4.5 per cent this fall. (CBC News)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 19, 2019
How the 2019 Federal Election Became a Vote for Nothing
The first drinking straw known to archeology was reusable. True story. It is a glamorous gold thing encrusted in blue lapis lazuli, buried in the tomb of a Sumerian queen at Ur in modern Iraq, the reputed birthplace of the patriarch Abraham, but long before his time.
Three millennia later, Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May was having a drink from a disposable cup when she was photographed. This was a problem for her 2019 election campaign. To solve it, her party digitally altered the picture to show instead a reusable cup with a metal straw. This indicated May’s ideological rejection of plastic straws, which are no longer a symbol of royal affluence, as in ancient Sumer, but an environmental menace as numerous as the stars in the sky, like Abraham’s descendants. Caught out by a reporter, the party lied about it, and was caught out again.
That may seem like nothing to get worked up over, but this was an election where nothing was the whole point.
For a few days, the Greens’ ridiculous self-own and own-goal of a pseudo-scandal was the temporary focus of a general election campaign that never actually found a permanent one. And not for lack of trying.
It could have been otherwise. In Canada, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, was a flurry of high-spirited national activity, quite unlike the solemn day of remembrance and reflection it was in America.
Andrew Scheer, the former Speaker of the House of Commons about to fight his first campaign as Conservative leader, had his morning flight from Ottawa diverted by nasty weather to Quebec City, then carried on to Trois-Rivières, Que., by bus.
Jagmeet Singh of the NDP was in London, Ont., where he once studied undergrad biology, and where on this day he observed to his supporters that his Liberal rival Justin Trudeau “is not who he pretends to be.” It was a run of the mill political dig from an underdog about campaign trail idealism and the realities of governance, but it was soon to become a lot more poignant.
For his part, Trudeau had official duties as prime minister in Ottawa, walking up the lane to Rideau Hall to advise Governor General Julie Payette to dissolve Parliament, where his Liberal Party then held a 177-seat majority, compared to 95 Conservative, 39 NDP, and a few others.
Holding hands with his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, he was trying his best to evoke optimistic memories of his cabinet swearing-in day at this same spot all those years ago, when he so wryly told everyone that half his ministers were women because it was 2015.
Not anymore. The National Post’s John Ivison noted that Trudeau’s eyes on this final day of Canada’s 42nd Parliament “radiate broken glass.”
At the beginning, the campaign seemed to have a clear focus. Trudeau was saddled with an Ethics Commissioner ruling that his campaign of pressure on former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to cut a deal on corruption charges with SNC-Lavalin was improper. This affair, which led her to resign from cabinet after Trudeau demoted her in a shuffle, tarnished his image with constituencies she represented, both women and Indigenous people.
Contrary to his hair-trigger apology instinct for national crimes, however, Trudeau had been uncharacteristically stubborn in accepting anything resembling blame. He claimed to accept responsibility, but did not apologize, nor admit he did anything wrong. Quite the opposite. His chief of staff Gerald Butts had resigned for his central role in the affair, and to protect Trudeau. As the campaign started, though, Butts was back in the hot seat, running the show.
It was the first clue that, in the campaign of 2019, nothing mattered. Things briefly seemed to matter, until they did not. People would talk about them until the next thing came along, and then that too would fade to irrelevance.
By the end, the whole thing would have a carnival feel, all flashing lights and calliope music, with well-dressed grifters barking for attention in what was preposterously promoted as a leaders’ debate. The earnest curiosity of voters about platforms and issues melted away like soft-serve ice cream.
The campaign was at times such a fun-house freak show that the Rhinoceros Party found another guy called Maxime Bernier to run against Maxime Bernier, leader of the upstart alt-right People’s Party of Canada.
It was not that people did not care about political issues, like health care or the economy. It was just that the parties offered so many other things to not care about instead. (Continued: National Post)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday November 15, 2018
Patrick Brown cites sexual misconduct allegation against Ontario finance minister in new book
Former Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown comes out swinging in a new tell-all memoir, claiming the province’s current finance minister, Vic Fedeli, has also been the subject of a sexual misconduct allegation.
Brown’s new book also contains allegations that his former party spied on him as far back as 2015.
Entitled Takedown: The Attempted Political Assassination of Patrick Brown, the book follows Brown’s rise in politics, starting with his nine-year-old self writing a letter to then-prime minister Brian Mulroney and ending with reflections on his life after his abrupt resignation as Progressive-Conservative leader earlier this year, following allegations of sexual misconduct.
“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” Brown told CBC News in sit-down interview, describing the night he was forced to resign.
“It’s like being run over by a truck. You can never be prepared for that.”
Brown, who from the scandal and was elected mayor of the City of Brampton in October, takes aim in the book at a number of PC caucus members and former staffers, and claims he was stabbed in the back by those in his inner circle.
Brown is in the midst of an $8-million defamation lawsuit against CTV News for publishing the original story detailing the allegations against him, which he has always denied. CTV has filed a statement of defence. The case has not yet been heard in court.
In the years prior to Brown’s resignation, there were questions within the PCs about his ability to lead them to an election victory in 2018.
In the book, Brown frequently describes himself as a “red conservative.” He writes that he felt disliked by the party for his more progressive stance on issues such as gay marriage, climate change and the carbon tax.
At one point in the book, Brown offers advice to the new premier.
“I would say to Ford that the social conservatives are dinosaurs who are becoming less and less relevant every single day,” Brown writes. (Source: Toronto Star)