So where are we as we march resolutely, if confused, towards the privacy of the ballot box and mark our individual choice for the person and party we would like to govern our affairs, national and international?
It’s never an easy decision. Never has been. And, come September 20 – or sooner if I opt for an advance poll – it’s going to be tougher than usual. This vote is a little different from most being held in the midst of a great pandemic in which we appear to be fighting a holding action with little to cheer about.
What’s different about it? Well, the prime minister who called it could have chosen a better time than the middle of a pandemic that has half the voting population worrying about more than where to mark a cross on a ballot paper. They would have preferred to wait until we got COVID-19 under control before trying to thrash their way through a jungle of election promises from political party leaders – promises that will be quickly forgotten once the final votes are counted.
PM Trudeau may have forgotten that he didn’t win the election of 2019. Maybe you have forgotten, too, that nobody won two years ago. True, the Trudeau Liberals won the most seats – 157 – but they needed 170 to command a majority. At the time of dissolution, they were down to 155 with byelections pending.
The Conservatives were in second place in 2019 with 121 seats – but are quick to point to their victory in the “popular vote.” They picked up 34.34 per cent support over the Liberals’ 33.12 per cent.
Fast forward to 2021; all polls are claiming the Liberals are losing ground, with the Conservatives picking up the slack. The pollsters put the Tories “slightly ahead” of the Liberals. While pollsters haven’t earned many gold stars in recent election forecasts, it’s reasonable to assume the odds are at least even and that they’re getting it right at this stage.
If they are, on September 21 or shortly thereafter, we should see ourselves back at Square One as in 2019 with a Conservative majority of seats but falling short of the 170 seats required for majority control.
But there is one factor that could change the possibility of another minority government repeat: Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party of Canada (PPC.)
One of his nicknames is Mad Max – earned as a maverick during his years in the Conservative Party, where he had once sought the leadership. In August 2018, he announced his departure from the Conservative Party, declaring it “too intellectually and morally corrupt to be reformed” and afraid to address important issues.
His departure speech was quickly condemned by former Tory Prime Ministers Stephen Harper and Brian Mulroney. Harper said he was a sore loser. Mulroney felt the new party Bernier had formed would siphon votes from the old party and assist the Liberals.
His presence on the ballot in most ridings will undoubtedly attract anti-vaxxers and those who see a conspiracy of scientists on climate change. He is also anti-immigrant. The PPC once sponsored billboards with an “END MASS IMMIGRATION” message.
The PPC claims a membership of over 30,000 – 4,135 are in BC, a thousand in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 4,822 in Alberta, 6,229 in Quebec and 10,871 in Ontario.
Watching the results come in on the 20th will do more than give us a new government, major or minor. I hope we elect a majority government with the party chosen to run our affairs for the next few years having enough seats to govern with the confidence we need in troubled times. A government with confidence in its public health services and science advisors and capable of passing that confidence on to the people they are sworn to serve and protect..
And above all else I hope Canada can wake up on September 21 pleased with its decision.