In 2015 I did a pair of before and after posts on the federal election, in which I made a prediction that was totally wrong (yeah, I thought Harper would be re-elected). In 2019 I did the before and after thing again, only with a more accurate forecast. Since I’ve been doing the “before” posts a week out from the election itself I guess it’s time to post an entry for what’s happening in 2021, even though I’ve already commented on the calling of a snap election, and the fact that it’s a snap election means there hasn’t been a lot of time for the picture to develop.
I think calling the election was a mistake. The plan was for the Liberals to upgrade from a minority to a majority government and I don’t see that happening now.
And that was all the plan the Liberals had. Asked multiple times to explain why an election had been called — a question they should have had been ready for — Trudeau couldn’t come up with anything very convincing. In one of the French-language debates he could only say that they needed “a clear mandate . . . to understand what Canadians want for the next years.” That’s weak, and I’m not sure it even makes sense. A mandate to understand?
As far as policy goes I don’t think there’s that big a gap between the Liberals and the Tories. Instead there are “optics.” This is where celebrity politics gets you: you live and die by the leader’s personality. Unfortunately for the Liberals, Justin Trudeau has not worn well. Even people I know who started out being supporters of him now feel quite disillusioned. He has not grown into the job. I find it surprising that he is still so bad at answering questions that take him off script, and being able to project confidence or competence. I know it’s an easy dig to say he’s all just fantastic hair and striped socks, a mere pretty boy playing at being a prime minister, but the shoe fits.
The various scandals surrounding his administration haven’t helped, reinforcing the sense that the Liberals are arrogant grifters. Allegations of hypocrisy and corruption have been hard to dodge, with the controversy over Raj Saini being just the latest example. Meanwhile, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s revenge was well timed. Hell hath no fury like a cabinet minister scorned.
Will the NDP be able to capitalize on voter disenchantment, or will voters duly fall into line, as they do every election, and vote for our Natural Governing Party? Never underestimate the timidity and steadfast resistance to change of the Canadian voter. Never.
I don’t know what happened to the Greens. I didn’t follow any of their leadership squabbles, but it’s depressing to think it came down to a disagreement over showing support for Israel. Why are we fighting over this? Annamie Paul seems bright and capable but hard to warm to. That may be why she hasn’t been widely embraced and the party has disappeared. I don’t think it’s racism, as people seem very fond of Jagmeet Singh. Heaven knows the environment should have been a strong issue to run on this year, but it hasn’t happened. I’m beginning to wonder if it ever will.
How well Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives do may depend on how many votes Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada draws away. I don’t think many. People who hate Trudeau will vote for the guy they think most likely to get rid of him.
Personally, I’ve been feeling quite alienated from politics. This is the first election in a while that I’ve seriously considered not voting in. I think on election day it’s going to come down to how long the lines are at the polling station. There are enormous challenges that we face, both in this country and globally, but so-called culture-war issues are in the driver’s seat. Why? Because cancel culture, wokeism, and identity politics crap really plays online. In short, it works. This is the form Western politics has taken in the twenty-first century. I blame the Internet.
Prediction: I have a hunch the Liberals get back in with another minority government, helped mainly by the Toronto vote. But a week out it’s really too close to call. I don’t think the NDP will do as well as forecasters have been expecting. The Greens are going to be annihilated.
As I’ve done previously, I’ll be back in a week with a post-mortem, when I’ll hopefully have some more to say.