EDITORIAL: Where goest thou Canada?

Where goest thou Canada?
These election results are disappointing but not discouraging.

Our country seems to be a good place to live but when we see how divided and fragmented it is, it becomes demoralizing for some citizens, regardless of colour, religious belief, culture, economic level or regional residence.

Quebec is not a happy camper within confederation. British Columbia worries about oil transit, trampling of indigenous land rights and disregard for climate saving action. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba hear grumbling of ‘Wexit’ and reinforce its germination by rejecting Liberal Party candidates west of Ontario. Even party stalwarts who have been outstanding riding representatives for decades bit the dust, booted out with little regard to reputation and what they may be owed in gratitude.

A great place to live?
Not for Indigenous who face a legal battle with their goverment over reconciliation payments in the court, who continue to thirst from water from household taps rather than purchased bottles, who suffer pollution in territorial waters polluted by big business with little regard or policies from their federal government. 

Not for young people who lose hope in ever repaying loans borrowed to become educated. Not young marrieds whose hopes of owning a home vanish faster than the promises uttered by their government leaders. Not for the ill or pharmacalogical dependent who cannot afford to buy needed prescriptions. Not for the addicts who live in the streets and for whom daily life is a risk to tainted by street drugs or overdoses. Not for the western Canadians whose oil-based economy idles and fades away as their government spends billions on pipelines left sitting in construction purgatories.

Election for naught?
This election may have taken us to “no-where land.”

Conservatives, 121 seats
Scheer was as eloquent as he possibly could have been in his closing speech to Canadians given that his results really took the party no where, no majority, no powerful opposition status, nothing significant given 40 days of campaigning, an abundance of time to create meaningful policies that would exceed the cliche sounding “put money in your pockets.” About as positive and constructive as Doug Ford’s completely non-existant policy look in the Ontario provincial campaign. 

Days numbered?
Scheer’s closing speech may have been a plea for his leadership position. After all, his votes remained regional in the West rather than successfully appealing to Canadians elsewhere.

Elizabeth May, gone! 3 seats
Elizabeth May may as well begin looking for her retirement home in Elliot Lake or Miramichi, NB. After all, though she won her riding, the rest of her party did very poorly after all of her slogging and slinging during the 40 day campaign. Even her husband, John Kidder, lost his riding.

May has taken the party as far as she can but the Greens may not have a replacement for her with any kind of profile or familiarity to Canadians. It could very well be the end of the road for May, as well her party. She didn’t even rate broadcast of her evening’s closing speech at her party headquarters. She must have given one but no news network considered it worthwhile televising.

Bloc Quebecois, 32 seats from 10
Yves-Francois Blanchet became the leader of the Bloc in 2019 re-launching the Phoenix of mythology. He succeeded in getting an incredible 32 seats, without campaigning beyond Quebec. This emboldened him as heard in his closing speech, a paean to Quebec sovereignty, an aggressive statement that his province is a state within federation, that they have the National Assembly while Ottawa, read Canadians, have the parliament. His sovereignty gauntlet included a defensive position opposing any pipeline through Quebec possibly his climate change policy for the province.

Our national television network broadcast his speech in its entirety even though Blanchet stated that the Bloc would work energetically to develop Quebec’s independence and statehood. Something smells in the state of Denmark!

NDP, Singh should not sing too loudly, 24 seats from 39 
Jagmeet Singh salvaged his party from what was projected as total annihilation at the outset of the campaign. Singh proved to be more than just a strong campaigner. He displayed principles, philosophical values and ideals of which any and all Canadians would be proud. If his turban was was worn with colourful pride, antagonizing some voters, it began to fade more and more as the campaign continued, fading not out of irrelevance, but out of being a concrete symbol that some Canadians saw as making him different. He wasn’t different. He is a Canadian as much as any other, regardless of what he wears. 

Canadians heard policies that became a clarion call for poorer Canadians: NDP support for them, promises of dentacare, pharmacare, constructive support for Indigenous Reconciliation, a welcoming hand of mutual cooperation with Quebec, a pledge of hope and help for the young with housing and student loan assistance, but above all, he drew the sword of political promise to go after the rich to pay their fair share in support of the country. 

Singh also pleaded for electoral reform so that more votes would have real meaning, real national impact and concrete political consequences. Singh was a breath of fresh air for voters who believed in the progressive policies of the NDP.

Liberal loss is reality, 157 seats
Trudeau must be acknowledged as the most eloquent and silver-tongued of all the party leaders. He snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. There was too much from which to recover even for the best speaker on the hustings. ‘The party’s work would continue’ he said as he thanked the voters for giving him the opportunity to do so. ‘There is more that unites us than divides us…We seek hardship for none; prosperity for all.’  Quebecers were promised that the Liberal Party would be there for them. Western Canadians were told ‘We need you. We want to bring our country together.”

[ Chantal Hebert, Toronto Star political commentator, has a little different take on Trudeau. Well worth reading:  Hebert ]

Trudeau thanked the expected ones, his wife, his campaigners, the party workers and volunteers. Again, his silver-tongued oratory rose higher and higher. He not only thanked those who voted for the Liberals but those who did not, “Thank you those who voted for us and for those who did not vote for us. We will work harder for you too.” [ And you should read Torstar journalist, Kady O’Malley’s The Lead at Kady  ]

Somebody goofed
There is a traditional sequence to closing speeches: third party leaders first, followed by the big two with the governing party concluding the evening. Scheer’s closing speech was interrupted by Trudeau making his at very nearly the same time. The national network properly switched broadcasting to the Prime Minister’s speech and thanks to technology, Scheer’s entire speech was recorded and broadcast in full immediately after Trudeau finished. Somewhere, somehow, someone goofed. Protocol was ignored or disregarded.

There is much for which we should be grateful with this election. Every Canadian citizen had the right to vote. Every voter was free to cast his ballot in safety and security, voting for whomever they wanted. Voters were assured of privacy and secrecy in the electoral process. Our election concluded in a manner which would be the envy of many in other parts of the world, no violence, no rioting, voter belief in their safety and security everywhere. Maybe the results were disappointing for many voters, but the country, as divided as it may be at this moment, is still the best country in the world in which to live.

Oh, and one more thing. Think we need electoral reform? Consider these election tidbits:

Carolyn Bennett won her Toronto riding with 28,000 votes; second place had 11,000. Go figure.



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