Ten years ago, while still gainfully employed by Victoria’s Times Colonist, I wrote: “A long time ago, when the world was a much calmer place and I was young enough to believe I possessed enough wisdom to tell people how to vote, I co-authored a front-page election-day editorial with instructions to the electorate as to how to conduct themselves when they cast their ballots.
“The publisher of the Penticton Herald in those halcyon days of endless Okanagan summers was the late G.J. (Grev) Rowland. I was his senior scribe, managing editor, fearless and always confidently right. Together, just as the citizens of Penticton would choose a new mayor, we laboured on our front-page directive to the voters.”
It was time, we thundered, to recognize that vaudeville had no place in civic politics and that it was “time to end the sorry circus of civic administration” overseen in recent years by then-mayor Charles Oliver.
“Our directions were clear. Penticton’s mayor was making the city the laughingstock of the Okanagan. He had to go. Our readers were told, in no uncertain terms, that it was their duty to bounce him. No wavering. No doubts. Only one way to vote: Just get out there; cast a ballot; get rid of Charlie Oliver.
“The voters read, turned out in record numbers – and returned Mayor Oliver to office by a three-to-one majority vote margin. It was a salutary lesson learned more than half a century ago in the late 1950s and never forgotten over the next 50-plus years of writing columns on elections and election candidates.”
I have pontificated, advised, and expressed opinions for and against candidates and their policies. I have said why I could support one candidate and not another, but I have never since the voters of Penticton cracked my knuckles so hard, dared to tell any electorate it had only one way to vote – my way.
As this may well be the last federal general election I’ll be privileged to comment on (at 97, I no longer buy green bananas), I tread carefully, advising my readers only to think what party leaders have been promising in the current election campaign. If you feel they make good sense, mark your ballot in favour of that party’s candidate.
If you agree with Maxime Benier of the People’s Party – splintered from the Conservative Party – that climate change warnings and vaccination policies are examples of a “tyranny that justifies revolution,” – a reflective pause might be wise before endorsing.
If you agree with established Conservative leader Erin O’Toole when he proclaims as part of his battle cry, “it’s time to take back Canada,” you might recognize it as an echo from Donald Trump when he won the presidency of the United States chanting “let’s make American great again.” It is not the only “tool” borrowed from Trump’s “How to Win Elections” manual.
New Democrat Jagmeet Singh is difficult to challenge. He looks great on television, whether walking with a crowd, chatting on a street corner or more than holding his own in formal but dull leaders’ debates. He would be easier to support if he could explain where the cash to pay for NDP projects would come from.
Then there’s Annamie Paul, who wears – not well – the crown as leader of the Green Party. There are no serious questions for her, and none for likeable Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of Bloc Quebecois, with no pretentious desires to be prime minister. He represents Quebecers and does it well.
I’ve forgotten Justin Trudeau? Not really. He’s still young, still learning. Not old enough to be as arrogantly confident as his father displaying a single finger salute, but confident enough in the continuing COVID-19 crisis to show the world Canada with a brave face in time of crisis. Critics claim his election call, while an epidemic threatened the world, was an unwarranted “grab for power and unjustifiable bother and expense.”
Does that mean an election two or three years hence would have cost less?
My forecast for a first to the finish tape? Just a guess, really. Canadians, being a cautious people, will opt for the horse that’s been steady under fire –
the Liberals. But, not enough for a 170-seat majority government. I think that desired objective may be just beyond Trudeau’s grasp on Monday.
Make my day. Prove me wrong!