Note: This editorial was written prior to the Oct. 7 leaders debate.
The Oct. 21 federal election is around the corner and we’re looking at a nail-biter.
What is most surprising is that, right out of the starting gate and despite all of the baggage, the Liberals were tied with the Conservatives in the polls. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is weathering the storm of violating the ethics code, and possibly breaking the law, and he violated the ethics code twice. If we were talking about a Conservative candidate, he would be toast. But we live in a world of double standards and the Liberals have numerous lifelines: A left-leaning news media (even though they have chastised Trudeau for hypocrisy), unions that actually declared they would campaign against the Conservatives, an extremely loyal base and the introduction of the People’s Party of Canada.
There’s much talk of a minority government. If the Liberals end up with fewer than 170 seats (they won 184 of 338 seats in 2015) they would go to Herculean lengths to maintain power, by say, even throwing an attorney general under a bus. Bad behaviour is always easier the second time around. They could reach out to another party to form a coalition but the options are not appealing.
The Greens only have three seats in Parliament and want to ban the sale of all combustion engine cars by 2030 and by that same year, force everyone to live off electricity from renewable energy. That’s a vote for economic impoverishment. But it’s either that, or as its leader Elizabeth May forecasted in the first leadership debate: “We’re looking at the risk of runaway global warming, of self-accelerating, unstoppable catastrophic changes, which no civilization can survive.”
There are, thankfully, not enough voters willing to forgo managing family expenses for a fantasy.
Sadly, it might be more disheartening if the Liberals considered an alliance with the NDP. In the first debate, the longer that NDP leader Jagmeet Singh talked, the bolder his statements became, until even Elizabeth May had had enough.
“Excuse me, I’m sorry, Jagmeet, I had to listen to your absurdities. You’re going to have to stop now,” she said, adding: “People can check: None of what he just said was true.”
At one point, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer told Singh: “You’re just making things up.”
Singh came away from the first debate as the crown prince of big statements. But when it comes to big promises, he’s king. He’s promised everything from caps on cell phone bills to free university education and free health and dental care. His plans are so grandiose and so beyond the moon that Singh’s dental and medication plan alone would cost $30 billion (that’s more than three times the value of all goods and services produced on Prince Edward Island). The promise is so unrealistic that even the Greens walked quietly away from making that promise one of their own.
Elections are often won on wild promises and new voters often live on the hope that some of that impossible dream will come true. In the real world, Canadians’ biggest concern is the cost of living. The average Canadian working full-time earns close to $50,000 a year and every new tax is another kick in the shin. Looking beyond the cacophony, the Conservatives are more in line with reality, even though we need tax reform, not a tweak here and there. The Conservatives are pledging to drop income tax on the first $47,000 earned from 15 % to 13.75 % (saving a family of two working parents $850 a year) and plan to axe the unpopular Liberal carbon tax that included exemptions for large polluters. If the Conservatives win the most seats, but fewer than 170 for a majority, they would go it alone as they see the NDP and Greens as fiscally irresponsible.
And then there’s the People’s Party of Canada. The appearance of its leader Maxime Bernier in the leaders’ debates offers him his only hope of winning his own seat, and maybe a few more. He is a big question mark. Will he dilute Conservative support? Will bad behaviour dilute the Liberals of some of their more fair-minded loyalists?
If polls are right, we’re voting for a leader and we’ll either get a fresh start with the smart, personable and squeaky-clean Andrew Scheer or four more years of cringe-worthy moments, identity politics, western alienation, dithering on China and government waste (like more than $50 million to build an arctic road for a Chinese mining company).
Cringe-worthy or squeaky clean? I know, it’s a tough choice.