Erin O’Toole looked like he was doing good. Justin Trudeau looked like he was doing badly.
What went wrong?
Well, as a public service, Yours Screwly put together a few random, linkless thoughts.
There are 10. Here they are:
1) As I opined in these pages mid-campaign, the assault weapon thing hurt O’Toole. It was in his platform, and it was therefore pretty hard to erase. When the Conservative leader realized it would hurt him with urban women, he tried to execute a pivot, but it was too little, too late. The assault weapon thing hurt him.
2) The unvaccinated candidates issue hurt O’Toole, too. Why? Well, the pandemic is the biggest economic, cultural and political event of our lifetimes. Eighty per cent of Canadians favour vaccines, masks and tough rules. O’Toole was offside on vaccines. People noticed.
3) But — if you are fair — you have to admit O’Toole otherwise ran a good campaign. He came across as decent and relatively centrist. He was positive, he wasn’t angry. The fact that he couldn’t improve his seat count means something important.
4) And what it means is this: There isn’t a Liberal media conspiracy. There isn’t even a political Liberal conspiracy. But there are Liberal voters in Canada — lots of them. As it becomes much more urban and diverse, Canada is much more Liberal. That presents a structural problem for the Tories.
5) A lot of Tories will think the solution to that is changing their leadership, yet again. But that’s superficial. That’s stupid and knee-jerk. That’s what they always do, and it never really works, does it? Their problems go a lot deeper than that, Virginia.
6) Consider this: Justin Trudeau was accused of groping a woman. He indulged in racist tropes, many times. As prime minister, he obstructed justice and leads a deeply corrupt administration. But he still clings to power. How?
7) The fact that a corrupt, allegedly groping, parlour-room racist could win again says more about us than it does about him. It says the country’s attachment to the Liberal brand is real and deep. It says Canadians are usually going to give Liberals (and a celebrity Liberal leader) the benefit of the doubt.
8) Lots of folks are saying that the election was about nothing. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t at all. It confirmed something pretty big: The country has changed. And if you want to defeat Liberals, you need to change, too, Conservatives.
9) That means making no mistakes, at all. That means campaigns that are micro, not macro — fight in regions, inch by inch. That means getting life-and-death issues — guns, vaccines — right the first time. That means having the very best candidates and the very best policies and the very best strategy.
10) But here’s a final thought, folks: The sun is up, where I am. The birds are chirping. Prime ministers come and go, but the country always goes on. And it’s a pretty great country, Justin Trudeau notwithstanding. If you want to change it, do that. There’s no time like the present.
— Warren Kinsella was Jean Chretien’s Special Assistant