Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan
Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan
With the floods in retreat, the long cleanup underway, summer soon will be full-force, full of BBQs, kids, a road trip or two . . . and we’ll be in the midst of a federal election. Over a year ago, this scenario (apart from the flood) would have raised only a yawn. The election then seemed a slam-dunk for the governing Liberals, but since then they and the world around them have collided, providing us a very different set of electoral possibilities.
Those changes have included economic and verbal battles with China and the USA (our significant “partners”), and no matter all Canada’s kow-towing (say, over Venezuela and Cuba), our “partners” grew less partner-like, leaving Canada squeezed and our government in the juicer. Popular support is what has been squeezed out.
We may be skeptical about the polls – the digitization of the electorate has made predictions dicey, although still interesting. The once-steamrolling Trudeau Liberals have been left stuck in the roadwork. The Conservatives, led
by a man most Canadians still cannot identify, and fractured by the exit of
Max Bernier, now find themselves leading the polls, slightly.
The Conservatives have played their cards well, keeping Trudeau’s bruises raw. The departure of two cabinet ministers, China’s salvos, Trump’s nooses, Conservative victories in Ontario and Alberta, SNC Lavalin (Chalk River, next up?), subsidies to the billionaire Weston family and to fossil fuel giants, all these added to discarded promises, amount to a staggering burden which must be shouldered by the Liberal incumbents, like our own Mr Amos.
At the same time, Canada’s conservative parties (three, actually) had no promises to fulfil, no agenda to achieve, and few challenges to trip them up, plus they can count on aid by the social-media manipulators south of the border. Mad Max set up no expectations at all with his new Peoples Party, so he has no stumbles to trip him up, no allies to let him down. The third conservative party, the CPC, the rump of the old Progressive Conservative Party that Harper destroyed, has hardly created a splash, but they’re valiantly trying.
All to say, politics have become interesting again, and even more dangerous than anticipated, given what “populism” has brought to the US, Britain, Hungary and Italy, India, and so on. On the upside, the Greens spiked in PEI and now in Newfoundland (and BC’s by-election). The NDP, stabbed by the Leap folks who couldn’t abide a compromise leader like Tom Mulcair, is working hard to … to what? Gain a mention on CBC’s newscasts? The NDP just won three seats in Newfoundland, so there’s promise … or something.
However, we have issues here in the Pontiac. The Liberal incumbent is sure to carry their banner, and the Conservatives have announced a credible
candidate – even the Peoples Party may have a strong and interesting
contender. All good. Democracy requires real candidates, real contests.
So in our riding, why are the NDP and the Greens dead silent? Can they not find strong candidates? Or are they simply playing, rigidly, by the rules and holding back until the campaign becomes official?
While frustrating to their supporters, this silence might lead to a reversal (reversing the myth of Trudeau’s lock on the Canadian imagination). With the electoral landscape pretty well known and the actors already running (in effect), the national polls (we don’t merit our own here) point to a very interesting possibility…
Abacus polls week after week, and reports an unbelievably high support for climate change remediation and mitigation – support for all measures, from individual to corporate contributions. This can only be good for the genuine environmentalists, Greens and the NDP. (The Liberals have their subsidies, tankers and pipelines, nuclear waste, and environmental-review changes to explain first.)
What if Pontiac’s Greens and NDP were to present a united front? Instead of stealing each other’s support, suppose they ran the same candidate? How to do this is for a lawyer to answer, but in politics, it would be close to a
sure bet – assuming the pro-environment polls are accurate and extend into the Pontiac.
So why are these two, of five or six parties running in the Pontiac, still sitting on their hands?