Well, that was fast. Like a summer storm, the federal election campaign has come and gone. And what a mean, shallow, silly, pointless affair.
The futility was evident from the day Justin Trudeau asked Governor General Mary Simon to dissolve parliament. He had a stable minority government with no imminent threat of collapse. He watched the polls pull the trigger anyway, passing the small matter of the country’s fixed-election-date law and transparently opportunistic bidding for a majority. Although his bet is played on Monday, it was a colossal waste of time and money—rather a lot of money at that: nearly $600 million, making it the most expensive election ever.
The three major-party leaders spent the past month trying to assimilate themselves with every possible interest group, regional bloc and demographic group, throwing the common good into the dust. Reaching into a toy chest that they feel is somehow bottomless, they offer something for everyone: pensioners, gig workers, parents with children, indebted students, out-of-work artists , rural people with substandard internet and small businesses (but not big ones, they are bad).
On the strange question of who will pay for all this, they strike a strange concern. Mr. Trudeau will delve into the banks’ bulging pockets (large, thus bad), which may cost people higher banking fees, higher interest rates or lower returns on their retirement savings. NDP’s Jagmeet Singh (surprise) will soak up the rich. Even Erin O’Toole of the new, good Conservatives says it will take her a decade to balance the books.
Canada’s 2021 federal election platform guide: Compare where the parties stand on top issues
election 2021 result
This was no ordinary election campaign, but perhaps not ‘important’
Meanwhile, he will spend like a moderate. The man who ran for leadership of his party as a true blue conservative is now, all of a sudden, the reddest in the Tories. According to his massive party platform, he will “stand up for corporate Canada” and “give activists a real voice … against major multinational corporations.” Street.
The platform has flour for everyone from Main Street business owners (small: good) to francophone universities to holiday shoppers who will get a sales-tax rebate from Santa this season.
When they weren’t offering our grandchildren money, these protectors of the national interest were pitting each other on the sidelines on the battlefields of Quebec. And when they weren’t doing that, they were taunting each other. Bringing out the most rusty mess in the Liberal arsenal, Trudeau tries to suggest that Mr O’Toole might turn modern Canada into something story of the maid — and while he was at it, he would destroy conservative election hopes forever by undermining our cherished health care system. Mr O’Toole, in turn, tried to portray Mr Trudeau as a privileged, selfish party boy who would say anything and promise anything to get elected. It was too rich to come from a leader who, like confetti, pushed back on his promises and spent the campaign saying pleasing things to everyone he thought should please.
Way in the right field, meanwhile, Maxim Bernier of the People’s Party of Canada was stirring up riots with phrases such as: “When tyranny becomes law, revolution becomes our duty.” He enjoyed a boom in elections. One of his supporters held a placard that helped explain why. “Other options suck.”
If this terrible election campaign did anything, it showed how stable our politics has become. Whatever the voters disliked about the system was clearly on display. The atrocities of the spin doctors, their puppet-like stitching and calibrating every pronunciation of the candidates. Endless robotic repetition of rehearsed talking points. A bunch of expensive, carefully targeted promises. It’s hard to miss a single real moment in the whole business, other than a response or two.
It’s just the kind of thing that drives angry populists — Rob Ford, Donald Trump, Mr. Bernier — to get out of the swamp and stop the gravy train. If that’s what we want, then polls like this are a surefire way to get it.
Follow party leaders and where they stand on issues this election campaign by signing up for us morning or evening update Newspaper.
For subscribers only: Receive exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for politics briefing.