As you vote on Monday, give the four years between Oct. 15, 2015, and Oct. 21, 2019, priority over the 40-day election campaign.
Four years ago, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals outdistanced the Conservatives, New Democrats, Greens and Bloc Quebecois, scoring 184 seats and a majority government with the power to pass legislation essentially at will.
The other parties, led by the Conservatives as the official opposition, although not controlling the levers of parliamentary power, nevertheless had an opportunity to hold the Liberals to public account.
So what’s the takeaway since 2015?
It’s not reflected in the Trudeau-supporting tweet sent out earlier this week by former U.S. president Barack Obama. That’s certain.
We can begin with the Liberals’ awful mishandling of Canada’s oil/energy sector which fostered economic distress for Alberta families, created friction between provinces, bled the economic coffers of the nation and caused six premiers to write an open letter to the prime minister charging that two Liberal pieces of legislation (Bills C-69 and C-48) may contribute to a fracturing of national unity.
Trudeau scoffed at the premiers’ concerns and, to be fair, he’s not alone in that assessment. The left in Canada is largely onside with Trudeau.
Then there is the SNC-Lavalin case. Trudeau and the PMO interfered as former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould discharged her sworn duties. The scandal is very recent history, and perhaps most well remember Trudeau’s initial response to the Globe and Mail breaking the story. He faced television cameras and declared it to be “false.”
Since then, Wilson-Raybould, under the guise of cabinet confidentiality, has been and continues to be denied her wish to share with Canadians her experience of PMO bullying. Trudeau, meanwhile, was on the receiving end of a public denouncement by parliamentary ethics commissioner Mario Dion, who was himself refused access to witnesses in the case.
Staying with the more recent, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman was removed as second-in-command of Canada’s military without public explanation, leaving the career officer subjected to rumour and innuendo.
A lengthy RCMP investigation would see Norman charged with breach of trust for allegedly leaking information about a planned delay in the conversion of a cargo vessel to a much-needed Royal Canadian Navy supply ship. Trudeau would twice publicly muse that the vice-admiral would see the inside of a courtroom, thereby arguably compromising Norman’s access to a fair trial.
There would, of course, be no trial, as the Crown, upon receiving information about the case it should have been in possession of much earlier, quickly stayed the charge. The vice-admiral told the nation he too had much to share publicly. Almost immediately though, Norman was silenced by a retirement offer which contained a confidentiality clause.
There remains Trudeau’s Bahamas trip to visit with billionaire Aga Khan, which resulted in multiple conflict of interest violations.
The list goes on, and how relevant those challenges against the Liberals are will depend on your interpretation of events.
How well did the opposition parties do at holding the governing party to public account? The Conservatives, at times, seemed not sure which avenue to pursue, preferring to focus on immigration and irregular border crossing, which while a major issue appeared their only issue at times. Leader Andrew Scheer flew mostly beneath the public radar and entered this year’s campaign still a largely unknown quantity.
Following their 2015 electoral drubbing, the New Democrats underwent a leadership change as Jagmeet Singh crossed from Ontario politics to the federal stage and promptly disappeared. So little was known about Singh before the current national campaign we were all instructed how to properly pronounce his name.
The Greens? Through a byelection, they doubled the party MP total to two and while Elizabeth May is a persuasive speaker, their impact on federal politics over the past four years has been largely negligible.
So here we are at the end of an at times confusing, often conflicting and certainly rancorous federal election campaign. Trudeau has refused to answer fundamental questions about his at least in triplicate blackface/brownface appearances. Were there more than the three occasions we know of? Was 2001 the last such occasion? Trudeau deflects.
Scheer was accused of overstating his insurance industry creds, bearing dual Canadian and U.S. citizenship and not standing as MPs sang O Canada in Parliament following the change of anthem lyrics. In the greater scheme of things, that’s pretty lame stuff.
Scheer has improved his performance, handled Trudeau quite easily during the English language leaders’ debate but has also faced challenges concerning firearms, abortion and same-sex marriage.
Singh? Now everyone knows his name and how to pronounce it and the NDP leader, apart from at best vaguely explaining the costing of his platform promises (the super-rich will pay their fair share, repeated again and again), has shown himself to be very likeable and personable. This begs the question, where was he before the election campaign?
May isn’t making much impact on polling and that is most likely because she has been Green Party leader too long. And until recently, she was the party’s only MP, so what other choice was there?
And then there is Maxime Bernier, leading the People’s Party of Canada (Bernier’s invention). Bernier is personable but not impactful, according to national polling. Had the CPC leadership vote moved just slightly, it would today be Bernier vs Trudeau and it’s fair to ask how many of the Peoples Party of Canada priorities would be part of the CPC platform,
When you’re voting Monday, allow the last four years to take precedence over the last five-and-a-half weeks.
And please, vote.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.