Election Canada, It’s Still a Toss-Up

The Canadian election, happening Monday, October 21, 2019 is still too close to call.  There are several factors that make it so.  I’m not a political writer, but several non-Canadians readers have asked, so here’s my take on Canada’s election.  I apologize for the length of this article up front.  You might want to grab a cup of coffee.

A month ago, it looked like the Liberals had an excellent chance of maintaining Canadian’s favour.  What’s happened in the last few weeks?  The campaign and televised debates have helped the New Democrats in much of Canada and the Block Party in Quebec – which has taken votes away from the Liberals and the Conservatives.

A little background, for those of you who don’t know much about Canadian politics:  Although we have more political parties, only 6 actually have members of parliament so those are the ones I will address:  The Conservatives, the Liberals, the New Democratic Party, the Green Party, the Bloc Quebecois, and the People’s Party.  Actually, a party must have 12 members in the House of Commons to be ‘recognized’ by parliament.  Only the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP fit the criteria; however that may change this election as both the Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois are within striking distance.

The Conservatives are right wing.  Their platform is mostly economical with a plan of $35 billion in cuts and the aim to erase the deficit, partially by cutting foreign aid.  They are pro oil and pipelines, hence the support of most of our western provinces.  They oppose a ban on guns and have dismissed any program, suggested by other parties, to reduce or waive the cost of pharmaceuticals.  They haven’t said much about climate change, but they have promised to scrap the Liberal Party’s carbon tax imposed on businesses that have no carbon reduction plan. The party is lead by Andrew Scheer.  The two issues that have recently questioned his character are that he claimed to have once been an insurance broker whereas he only worked as a clerk in an insurance company and that he apparently holds dual citizenship with the United States.  Scheer is pro life and when recently asked by a reporter to name one policy that shows he supports women’s rights, he couldn’t name any.

The Liberals, are mid-to-left wing.  They want to increase immigration and implement a national ban of semi-automatic weapons and give support to cities to ban or restrict hand guns.  They want to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals.  Experts (as in several articles published by scientists and economists) say the Liberal plan on fighting climate change is the most feasible.  The Liberals stopped the building of two pipelines, but have endeavored to build one from the west to the Pacific Ocean, saying that they will work with Indigenous People and use the profits to combat climate change.  The party is lead by Justin Trudeau.  Trudeau has visibly lead Canada for the last 4 years, handing out winter coats to Syrian refugees at the airport, attending the Paris Accord, standing up to Trump during the trade negotiations, marching in Vancouver’s and Toronto’s Pride Parades (the first Prime Minister to do so) and meeting with Greta Thunberg.  The two issues that have put Trudeau’s character in question are his blackface appearances 20 years ago for costume parties and when he placed pressure on the then Attorney General to spare SNC-Lavalin criminal conviction.  He’s accepted responsibility for both, apologizing profusely for the former and claiming he was trying to save Canadian jobs for the latter.

The NDP are left-wing, some say socialist.  Although there’s never been an NDP Prime Minister, the party has had many influential leaders – most notably Tommy Douglas (yes, Keifer Sutherland’s grandfather) a human rights supporter who lead the New Democratic Party’s introduction of Canada’s universal health care plan.  Today’s NDP platform includes implementing free pharmaceuticals, free university and college tuition as well as creating a national strategy for dementia and tax credits for caregivers.  They want to improve on the Liberal platform for climate change and increase immigration.  The party is led by Jagmeet Singh.  Before the campaign, Singh was not well-known and some Canadians have had a hard time imagining a turban-wearing Prime Minister.  However, Singh has proven to be a skilled public speaker – genuine, intelligent, quick-thinking and charming.  He and his party are proving to be the ‘spanner in the works’.

The Green Party, also left-wing, bases their platform on six core values: social justice, ecological wisdom, respect for diversity, grassroots democracy, peace and non-violence, and sustainability.  Their main cry to battle has been to fight climate change aggressively.  Although they only have 2 seats in Parliament, their voice has been a catalyst in the way Canadians think about our environment and climate change.  There are many more Canadians that agree that climate change is the most important issue than will actually vote for the Green Party, likely because they also believe that the Green Party doesn’t have the knowledge or experience to run the other aspects of government.  Nevertheless they have proven to be an effective devil’s advocate.  The Green Party is lead by Elizabeth May, who would not be Canada’s first female Prime Minister.  She is a lawyer and has been an environmentalist since the 1970s.  She is a lawyer, well-spoken and passionate.

The Bloc Quebecois is the anomaly in terms of national political parties because they are devoted to Quebec nationalism and the promotion of its sovereignty.  Strange, I know, but those of us who live in Canada understand that Quebec has always been ‘different’.  Surprisingly, last election, they won 10 seats in parliament.  And, based on a strong performance in the televised debates by their leader, Yves François Blanchet, have increased momentum in the polls.

The People’s Party, considered a fringe party by most, is extreme right-wing.  They were recently formed by past Conservative Party member Maxime Bernier.  They want to balance the budget, reduce immigration and focus on only skilled immigrants, encourage oil and gas industries to grow, and withdraw from the Paris Accord.  Bernier finagled his way into the televised debate and really should not have been there because he had been elected as a Conservative.  He didn’t win any brownie points, was consistently attacking and being attacked and over-speaking.  With no seats in parliament, it is unlikely the People’s Party will have any affect on the upcoming election.

That’s the playing field and we’re in the last inning.  Trudeau is still out there reminding folks of the good he’s done in the last 4 years and insisting that Scheer will cut necessary services.  Scheer is still claiming that Trudeau’s not fit to be our leader.  Elizabeth May and Jagmeet Singh are focusing on social change.  What could happen on Election Day?  Based on how Elizabeth May and Jagmeet Singh performed on the campaign trail and the televised debate polls indicate a rise in both of their left-wing parties.  Canadians could vote with their hearts. The result would mean fewer votes for the Liberals.  In addition, Quebecers could vote for the Bloc Quebecois, taking more votes away from the Liberals.  That means there is a real chance that the Conservatives could win the election.

There is always the chance that Canadians, regardless of whatever party they like, will strategically vote Liberal just to ensure the Conservatives don’t win. 

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