, 10.29.2020 01:43 PM

My latest: the political anniversary everyone wants to forget

An anniversary happened last week. You can be forgiven for missing it.

That’s because no one really celebrated it.

The Canadian federal general election happened on October 21, 2019. It resulted in Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party getting re-elected. It was in all the papers.

Except the first anniversary of Trudeau’s re-election really wasn’t – in the papers, or a victory. Postmedia and CBC published a couple stories, true, in which a couple Paul Martin acolytes were interviewed.

And, to be sure: if you’re writing a story about how to take a perfectly good Parliamentary majority and turn it into a minority or a loss, those are indeed the guys to consult: they are the undisputed experts in wrecking Liberal parties, and losing power.

But the anniversary of the October 2019 election? No one really noticed, or cared. The reason was simple: with a single notable exception, every federal Canadian political party – every federal leader – lost something. They didn’t win.

Justin Trudeau, for example, may have been returned to power. But he lost plenty.

He lost a comfortable Parliamentary majority, and was reduced to a minority, one that the Opposition parties can combine to remove from government. While still clinging to power, Trudeau’s share of the popular vote is puny – just 33 per cent.

Trudeau actually received a lot fewer votes than the Conservative Party. And it was the first time in history that a Canadian political party has formed a government with so little of the popular vote.

It’s not just a numbers game, either. By losing his majority, Trudeau lost control of some powerful House of Commons committees. (And that is why he actually threatened to force an election last week – to prevent the creation of a new committee that would have the authority to subpoena witnesses and documents in the never-ending WE scandal, which has implicated Trudeau and his family.)

Trudeau lost something else in the October 2019 election, too: his reputation. When it was revealed that the Liberal leader wore racist blackface at least three times, he shocked Canadians, and became a figure of ridicule and derision around the world.

And it’s not forgotten, either: just this week, satirist Sacha Baron Cohen savagely mocked Trudeau in his hit Borat movie sequel, showing the Canadian Prime Minister wearing blackface while a teacher at a Vancouver school.

The Conservatives and their former leader lost plenty, too. The Tories were shut out of Canadian cities, and shunned by Canadian women or youth. Despite Trudeau’s myriad scandals – including blackface, which literally broke while the election campaign was underway – the Conservative campaign was disjointed, incoherent and poorly-managed.

Its then-leader, Andrew Scheer, distinguished himself as a remarkably unremarkable politician – and one who couldn’t score on an open net, even on a breakaway.

The New Democrats lost, as well. When the election was called, Jagmeet Singh’s party had nearly 40 seats. When it ended, Singh had lost almost half of them. His share of the popular vote plummeted.

In the intervening year, Singh has further diminished his party by cravenly propping up Justin Trudeau’s government – simply because Singh and his NDP lack the money, and the strength, to fight another election. His New Democrats have handed Trudeau a majority in all but name, in exchange for nothing.

The Green Party – which, full disclosure, was the only party with which my political consulting firm had a contract – devoted money and resources to winning many more seats. In the end, it only added one. And its quixotic leader, Elizabeth May, finally was obliged to take a hint and resign.

Finally, Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party did not win a single seat. Not one. And the only seat it had – Bernier’s, which had been previously held by his father – was lost, crushed by his Conservative opponent.

So who won the October 2019 election?

The separatists did. Under Yves-François Blanchet, the Bloc Québécois dramatically improved its standing in the House of Commons – from ten seats at dissolution, to 32 now.

Blanchet eviscerated the NDP, denied the Liberals a majority, and helped reduce the Conservatives’ presence in Quebec. His Bloc is now the third-largest group in the House of Commons, and arguably the most effective Opposition party.

All of that explains, then why the anniversary of Canada’s October 2019 election didn’t attract much attention:

Every Canadian political party lost – except the political party that wants to break up Canada.

21 Comments

  1. whyshouldIsellyourwheat says:

    Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan, and Regina are not Canadian cities?

  2. Robin says:

    Quebec never loses. Canada exists to serve Quebec and politicians accept this if they want to form a national gov’t. Confederation is a canard and a myth.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Robin,

      Sounds just like the 1982 Constitutional Act. Yeah, we in Quebec sure were big winners on that one.

      • Nick M. says:

        Ronald,

        I am curious out of my own ignorance about this issue you raise. What are these grievances besides Quebec government not signing?

        My grievance about the whole constitution is that Peter Lougheed would have never agreed to the constitution knowing the way the courts have interpreted it years later.

        Ted Morton wrote a good article how Lougheed put all these safeguards to prevent today’s judgements not in Alberta’s interest.

        We have unfortunately learned, that Lougheeds safeguards don’t seem to matter.

        • Nick,

          Federal politicians, especially Liberals ones, are generally dismissive of what happened in 1982. Fortunately, at least one current Quebec cabinet minister sees it the same way as yours truly. Now, I will speak only for myself: first off, it is an absolute travesty of justice and a national disgrace to impose a constitution on one of a nation’s constituent parts without the express and formal consent of its sovereign provincial government. Secondly, the way English Canada just started whistling and looked the other way says all you need to know about the former Gang of Eight. Lévesque very foolishly fell for the one-day Canada-Quebec constitutional accord designed expressly by Trudeau to break the others from Quebec. And it worked like a charm. Quebec was immediately outmanoeuvered and isolated and the rest is history.

          This is not a question of some technical error or irrelevant legal formalism. Rather, it’s about all provinces and territories being equal in law to a federal government. Trudeau’s Ottawa, then and now is not a unitary state.

          At least in Germany they did the honorable thing: most of Protestant Germany quickly agreed to the constitution but largely Catholic Bavaria did not sign. However, in the interim, a framework agreement was reached with Bavaria whereby the latter agreed to be bound by the provisions of the federal constitution.

          In Quebec, we are still waiting, thirty-eight years later. Not today, not tomorrow, not even in the foreseeable future, but one day we will be sovereign because Canada chose not to undo what absolutely should have been undone years ago.

          Watch Legault. What he was, what he is, and what he’ll become again, will be for all to see and Canada will pay the ultimate price for snoozing while the future of a country was quietly and subtly in the balance…now you know why I never voted for Legault.

  3. Nick M. says:

    I thought Trudeau’s post election Olive branch to the West was to fast track the latest census with provincial seat allocation?

    As in, Alberta and BC are underrepresented in parliament, and he was working on remedying this.

    This pro-democratic issue should have been a no brainer.

  4. A. Voter says:

    The fact that neither the NDP or Conservatives were willing to bring back the tradition of allowing a new party leader to run unopposed in a by-election show both parties still have the political instincts of a door-knob. If the Green Party leader had been elected it would have weakened the Liberals further, could have led to further Green/NDP co-operation to strengthen both parties, and enabled the Conservatives to benefit from vote splitting. Instead we had two leaders who couldn’t let go of the past, thus electing another Liberal. The likely blueprint for the next federal election.

    • Nick M. says:

      A tradition extended to a party that doesn’t have official party status? This “tradition” for a party not recognized in parliament never existed.

      By that definition, the tradition should have been extended to Maxine Bernier, who ran in the other by-election.

      The tradition you are thinking of was the leader of the opposition went unopposed in safe seat.

      When Elizabeth May ran in a by-election in London, no one talked about a tradition being violated.

      Was the “tradition“ granted to Tommy Douglas when he had to be parachuted into BC?

      It’s nuts that any fringe party ( fringe defined by a party that has never come close to official party status,) should be granted a tradition that was typically offered to the Leader of the Opposition in a safe seat.

  5. Walter says:

    That date was also quite close to the 5th anniversary of Trudeau winning his first election.

    I get the exact same vibe happening in the USA now as existed in Canada 5 years ago. The incumbent was obviously doing a good job (best economy, jobs, help for working class) and the challenger obvious doesn’t have the mental capacity or moral character to be leader. But this doesn’t prevent the media from rallying around the challenger and forgiving and overlooking all his weaknesses – leading to a resounding win.

    Shortly thereafter, the “new” leader shows his poor leadership and corruption and the country suffers as a whole.
    As they say – history repeats itself.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Walter,

      Harper was a good manager, no question about it, but Harper lost because of Harper, not because of the shining embrace of Trudeau by the media. Harper’s IQ is impressive, enough to know what the average Canadian will take or reject as part of the longstanding Canadian fabric. And yet he foolishly and /or egotistically quite deliberately chose to lurch more to the right in the majority mandate than most voting Canadians were comfortable with. THAT’s why Harper lost both the country and power.

      • Walter says:

        Harper calmly and gently returned the country to balanced budget, while increasing transfers to provinces by 6% for healthcare. If Harper counts as right wing then do you view Chretien as ultra-right fascist?

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:

          Come on Walter, you know what I’m talking about: abolishing the long gun registry, eliminating the long form census, the command and control over government scientists to speak their peace, the lack of enthusiasm for Kyoto and the multilateral approach to the real threat and menace of climate change and the topper: not quickly repudiating Leitch on the barbaric practices hotline… Harper just let it sit there in the campaign. And who can forget the old-stock Canadians remark that was advice from an Australian dimwhit who had previously worked for Howard.

          Need I say more?

  6. Robert White says:

    Steven Harper lost his third term chance by not developing any plans whatsoever to secure a third term of leadership. Harper planned on two terms, and then threw the election to the Liberal Party because he had no Plan B. that would suffice to undermine Trudeau’s rise to power.

    I watched businessman Larry O’Brian lose his second term for the office of mayor in Ottawa via the same miscalculation of not being prepared for the next term via poor election planning.

    If a politician wants to secure a term of leadership they have to plan ahead and not simply rest on their laurels erroneously assuming that incumbency will secure the election for them.

    Incumbency is nothing without appropriate planning to exact a win. This is why seasoned managers like Warren are required to take over the election campaigning so that politicians can win. Without the right management politicians lose.

    RW

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