So today is Canada’s election, and like most elections now, all eyes are on Left vs Right.
In this country, the centre-left Liberal party has been in power for approx 6 years, but, since 2019, only with a minority government, so they have depended on smaller parties to back them up. Apparently our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has got impatient with this and has chosen to role the dice again, calling another election after only 2 years (only an election every 5 yrs is required).
Being 75 yrs old, you might assume that I, like most boomers, would vote for a Conservative party candidate, but I have always been at odds with my generation. When they moved left in the ’60s in herd-like fashion, I started my voting career at age 18 with a vote for the Conservatives.
The reason for that was that the Conservatives then really were conservative. When they advocated a policy in which governments would spend only up to their income, not borrow extra every year, some of them at least were sincere.
When economist John Maynard Keynes proposed that governments borrow or print extra money to increase spending, he meant in times like the Depression, or the world wars. He always made it clear that in times of plenty governments should pay off their debts. Instead, since the Second World War, governments have over-spent 90% of the time. One reason why they are so weak now is that so much of their income is required to pay interest on outstanding debts.
And to want to prevent global-warming, the destruction of forests, or stop species extinction, is to have a conservative approach to the world. ‘Conservation’ to me is conservative. The great national park system in the USA began under a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt.
Anyway, the Conservatives in Canada, and the Republicans in the USA, rarely pay even lip-service to that idea of financial conservatism now. There really is no ‘conservative’ party in any major country now. Cutting taxes to increase the income of affluent people, while the incomes of the poor and the middle class continue to alternately stagnate and go down, is radical politics, not conservative.
So, no I don’t vote conservative any more. For the government, I prefer the Liberals to the Conservatives (no other party has been able to win a federal election during my lifetime), so if the Liberal candidate in my riding looks like they might be in trouble, I vote for them.
Otherwise, I either vote for the NDP (New Democratic Party – Canada’s version of the UK’s Labour party), or I vote for something whimsical (I once voted for the Rhinoceros Party), or I vote Green.
When I was going into the public school gymnasium this morning where I was assigned to vote, I passed a little African-Carribean woman (or Afro-African), who looked to be well into her ’80s, walking alone, slowly with a slight limp and a determined gait, back up the sidewalk after casting her vote, and I couldn’t help remembering that in the last two USA presidential elections, black people voted slightly better than white people in the country as a whole (51% to 50%, something like that), and that in spite of the voter-suppression tactics that are directed at black voters in many US states.
As someone who was married to a women of African genetic origin most of my adult life, until last June (see my post re my lost wife Merle), I find myself wishing now that I had stopped and thanked that woman for turning out yet again, as she has probably done for decades.
I also noticed that a disproportionate number of the people voting today were seniors, many of them feeble or disabled. But it is well known that older voters are more likely to vote than the young. I’ve never understood that. I don’t think I’ve missed an election in my life. But this was 11am. Young people vote later than we do, since they have jobs, go to school, etc.
Who is going to win this election? Apparently it’s a toss-up. The Liberals and Conservatives are more or less tied in the polls. Trudeau, who I like, as I liked his father Pierre Trudeau, may have underestimated his opponent this year, Erin O’Toole. O’Toole has the combined characteristics of two previously Conservative federal leaders, Joe Clark, and Brian Mulroney.
O’toole has reversed his previous position and now says he supports gun laws to eliminate the sale of assault weapons. He’s talking like an environmentalist, at least sometimes. And, if I have read right (I read it in some disbelief), he has, at least to some degree, come out on abortion in support of a woman’s right to choose. Back in the late ’70s Joe Clark won an election by talking like a Liberal, though he didn’t last long.
More troubling is that O’toole is from Quebec. Like Brian Mulroney (premier of Canada from 1984-1993), he is fluent in French and, like most people who are Irish in origin, he is a gifted talker. Mulroney was a man given to lying more than the average politician, but he did it with such style and apparent sincerity that he won many seats in Quebec for the PCs, where they had been excluded for decades. I fear that O’Toole may be another.
Anyway, although this election looks like it will be a cliff-hanger, the Liberal candidate in my riding looks like he will be a shoe-in – so I voted Green.
Some will say that’s a wasted vote. No it’s not. In the last election, the Green party got 6.6% of the vote, but won only 3 seats (up from 2), which is less than 3% of the seats in the House of Commons. In my view, the more Green votes we cast, even in ridings where they cannot win, the more we draw attention to the semi-democracy of our archaic system, and the more we serve notice that ‘green’ issues are going to be part of the future.
4 thoughts on “Rescuing ourselves, or trying to | Canada votes”
I often wonder what it would take for nations that use FPP (First Past the Post) to change to a more proportional system. Here in Aotearoa New Zealand the catalyst occurred in the 1970s when a third party gained 30% of the vote but obtained only 2 of the 80 seats in the Parliament, and the second most popular party had an overwhelming majority. This eventually lead to one of the two major parties promising to hold a referendum on proportional representation, not expecting they would form the next government. They won, and to this day they probably regret making PR an election promise.
I think in systems which are essentially 2-horse races, both parties prefer FPP because it limits the rise of third parties; they know voter fatigue and party infighting will eventually cause the governing party to lose an election; and while in power they are effectively a “tyranny of the majority”. I suspect this type of majority is what Trudeau is aiming for.
Our current government is the first in 27 years (3-year election cycle) where one party has gained an absolute majority in Parliament, but the concept of loose coalitions is now so ingrained in the sphere of politics that the majority party still chose to form a coalition. If it hadn’t been for covid-19, this government too would have been a loose coalition and probably a minority government as well,
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Yes, the FPP system does protect the major parties, and that is no accident. Our current and now continuing leader [the LIberals won but with no majority] has promised to address this in the past, but nothing has been done.
The whole election was a disappointment to me. It was cynically called 2 years early for purely political reasons. It resulted in another minority government. It was sad that the Greens were decimated though the NDP gained a seat. The only consolation was that the Conservatives didn’t win – they contain a lot of extreme right wingers. The far right People’s Party probably stole enough votes to keep the Cons out.
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I agree with you across the board – I would prefer to see the ability to call early elections removed – I voted Green so I was saddened by their fall – but I think Trudeau is in a much stronger position now. Canadians seem to approve of him as long as its in the context of a minority govt.
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