Regardless of where one stands on the political spectrum, I think most can agree this has been an absolute horrible election and will be happy when its over. No talk about serious policies to deal with the challenges we face as a country; instead its all about trying to smear the opponent and find gotcha moments. Obviously characteristics of leader matter, but no one is perfect, so I want someone who understands the complex issues we face and has a plan to deal with them. Many might be skittish about proposing controversial policies, but I think too many aren’t giving voters enough credit. If you explain them, you can sell tough ones. Also social media and shorter attention spans means people like 10 second sound bytes rather than more nuanced discussions on issues, which is a shame as most issues aren’t black and white, but are complex and involve nuances. Also another problem is with how nasty politics is today; I am afraid the leaders we had of the past, we won’t have of the future as the more skilled and accomplished types would rather find a career in business, academia, or somewhere else that is more rewarding. As I will explain below, if you look at the quality of leaders we have this time around, it is pretty pathetic.
Elizabeth May is probably the most experienced and accomplished of the five national party leaders (don’t know enough about BQ leader to comment), but her party has no chance at forming government and likewise if her platform was implemented, our economy would likely go into a recession and be severely damaged. But off course when your goal is just to win more seats, not office you can make idealistic but unrealistic promises. Maxime Bernier has a fair amount of experience; more than either Trudeau or Scheer, but has repeatedly shown bad judgement and his party is full of a bunch of nutcases so probably doesn’t have one candidate qualified to be finance minister, minister of health or any other ministry. And pandering to the far right automatically disqualifies him which is why his party will likely go nowhere. Jagmeet Singh unlike Scheer and Trudeau has run a decent campaign and means well, but his platform is not a serious one. I followed that of Mulcair and Horgan here in BC and even though there were many parts of their platforms I disagreed with, both were serious and done on the basis of being able to form government and implement them. For Singh, his is to re-establish the NDP is the pre-eminent part of the left, but not a serious one for a party that wants to govern.
But when looking at the two main leaders, its probably fair to say both Scheer and Trudeau have some of the thinnest resumes of anyone to ever become PM. Say what you want about Mike Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, and Stephen Harper; there was plenty to criticize each one over, but all had quite impressive resumes and there was never any doubt about whether they were qualified to be PM. It was simply a matter did you agree with the direction they wanted to take the country or not. With both Scheer and Trudeau, they have incredibly weak resumes and it is showing. I will probably end up voting Conservative, but likely with my nose plugged, although no guarantees. But I think the lesson here should be for both parties that when choosing a leader, don’t go on assumptions of the day, go on the idea they may become PM and what will that mean.
Scheer has mostly been a career politician and has a pretty weak private sector resume. Likewise even as a politician, has never been cabinet minister. His promises are okay, but nothing bold and certainly not the tough decisions to deal with the challenges ahead. To be fair, he was a compromise candidate as back in 2017 as few thought the Tories had a chance in 2019 so it was more about finding a placeholder who could keep the party united and after that finding someone who could defeat the Liberals in 2023. But thanks to Trudeau’s screw ups, there is an opportunity to win yet may very well be missed due to a weak leader and even if he wins, he will need a very strong cabinet and be a quick learner to succeed. With memories of the right being divided in the 90s and still divided at that time in Alberta, much of the focus was on getting someone right wing enough to keep the Reform party wing in the tent, while moderate enough to keep the PC wing in the tent and Scheer fit that bill best. The problem is when it comes to experience and competence needed to win, he may have been better than the majority of the 13 candidates, but was still quite weak compared to past Tory leaders. As such in the future, Tories should always assume every election is winneable regardless of what polls say at the time.
But if Scheer is a weak leader, so is Trudeau and indeed if either Tories or Liberals had a better leader, they would probably have a solid lead in the polls. After falling to third place in 2011, most Liberals rightly assumed it would take two elections to return to power. But when a few polls showed Justin Trudeau could take them back in one, many being hungry for power jumped on the train even though it was clear the only reason this guy was popular was due to his famous last name. Sure he is personally likeable to many, good looking, and has a famous surname. But when it comes to policies he is way too idealistic and lacks the kind of pragmatism you need to govern successfully. As such that is why he has messed up on so many things and with dark clouds on the horizon, the second term could be a lot more difficult should he win. I am pretty sure if Liberals weren’t in third place, they would have had someone more competent as leader and hopefully whenever Trudeau is no longer leader they do that. Problem is with a few exceptions such as Chrystia Freeland, much of the caucus rode on his coattails and never expected to win thus he has a weak cabinet and being weak himself, he has to rely and backroom strategists such as Gerald Butts and Katie Telford.
As such, this election has been devoid of discussion on serious issues and more that of mud slinging and for many of us its about voting for the least worst option. I wouldn’t be surprised if turnout falls a lot as many feel none are worthy of their vote. Hopefully next time around, one of the leaders of one of the parties will try to raise the debate to be more civil and to deal with the serious issues our country is facing. But perhaps maybe with social media and short attention spans, those days are over, which would be a real shame.
2 thoughts on “Lousy Election with lousy leaders”
Yet, if the results hold as they are now, most likely all the leaders, except Singh, should get a second kick at the can. Singh is probably gone since it is not particularly likely the NDP will even hold official party status, but there isn’t an obvious leader waiting in the wings (and they’d have to survive to keep their seat). Elizabeth May is almost certain to stay for the long haul too, especially if they can approach party status. For Trudeau, as long as they are in power (even in a coalition or agreement with the NDP and/or Greens), he should keep his hold on the leadership. Based on so many scenarios, here are my guesses.
Another Liberal majority – Trudeau obviously stays for a 2nd term as PM. Scheer probably would be booted out for losing a very winnable election. Who to replace him though? Picking a real Red Tory (like Michael Chong) risks the PPC gaining serious momentum and re-splitting the right, but a hard conservative (like Jason Kenney) keeps the soft centre with the LPC or on the couch.
Liberal minority able to govern – Most likely Trudeau stays, while Scheer would probably stay as well as they would have made significant gains. This could involve either the Liberals winning the most seats or the Conservatives doing so, but the NDP and Greens able to put them over 170.
True hung Parliament – This might be the best case scenario for Singh. Would the NDP even have time for a leadership convention? This Parliament wouldn’t last long at all, probably only a few months. This assumes neither the Liberals nor Conservatives can govern without the Bloc, who would be toxic no matter what in a coalition role. Certainly both Scheer and Trudeau survive here.
Conservative minority able to govern – This is by far the least likely scenario, probably involving the CPC at 169 with Maxime Bernier being the 170th vote unless the PPC can gain additional seats. This would likely be a nightmare for progressives. Trudeau would have a tough decision – is he able to maintain opposition to the hard right, or does he think this agreement would collapse like a house of cards?
Conservative majority – Certainly Trudeau would resign as leader here. However, who would replace him? They will have a deep caucus (likely at least 130 seats even in a CPC majority scenario) but does anyone stick out as a leader? Particularly someone not seen as too “elitist” so someone not from Ontario or Quebec would be beneficial.
Sounds reasonable on balance although I think actually if Liberals win a majority, Trudeau will resign, but it will be sometime in late 2022, so enough time for a successor to be chosen, but also serve out most of his term. HIs approval rating is pretty low and unless he rebounds, but then it might be obvious the party is facing defeat so they will want to choose a new leader to avoid losing in 2023. For the Tories, it depends on the results and why they lost so probably a lot more speculation once we see the regional breakdown. If it is Ontario that costs them the election, probably a lot of pressure on Doug Ford to change or leave as he will get blamed for the loss. If it is Quebec, probably will look for someone who speaks better French than Scheer so might even have a Quebec leader.