Canadians voted for big change, whether they knew it or not

Posted on September 23, 2021 in Governance Debates

Source: — Authors: – local-toronto-north-york/opinion
Sept. 22, 2021.   By David Nickle, Reporter

So what was it all about?

Looking back on it late on election night, our once-and-future Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Sept. 20 federal election was all about the future – the extraordinary measures that the federal government would need to take to re-order Canadian society and its economy as the country slowly emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we’ve seen tonight is that millions of Canadians have chosen a progressive plan,” Trudeau said at the election that transformed his Liberal minority government into another Liberal minority government.

Strictly speaking, Trudeau is correct. His government campaigned on $10-a-day childcare, the continued funding of affordable housing, a plan to address climate change, a stated urgency to pursue reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. In the new Parliament, he is likely to face hard-to-resist pressure from the New Democratic Party to move forward on a public pharmacare program.

That all of these things might have continued absent a federal election is beside the point, at least by the reasoning we might infer from Trudeau’s victory speech. In 2019, Canadians did choose a “progressive plan” – at least in comparison to Andrew Scheer’s Conservative’s plan – but it wasn’t one turbo-charged by the needs of pandemic recovery, and only if you added up the votes going to the Liberals and to Jagmeet Singh’s NDP could you say that a majority of Canadians did so.

The short, late-summer election was in fact an opportunity for Canadians to weigh in on that.

It was not the best opportunity, and you could argue that it was largely a missed opportunity – because the motive force of it was almost entirely opportunistic. Mid-summer, the Liberals were polling well, and from the Prime Minister’s office, the majority government that was so elusive in 2019 must have seemed within reach.

Shelley Carroll, who represents Don Valley North on Toronto Council and is a long-time Liberal, said in a post-election interview that the prospect of a majority was essential.

“We are moving into recovery; the fourth wave is largely a pandemic of the unvaccinated; bold action is needed. He wanted to be able to take it,” she said. “With a majority it would be easier to take it – but at this juncture we needed to ask Canadians, do you want us to proceed or not?”

Again – it’s not as though the question didn’t come up in debate and discussion. And it’s not as though Trudeau didn’t explicitly interpret the vote as a consensus to move ahead to a transformation that will put Canada on track to become closer to European-style social democracies than anyone might have thought possible.

Denzil Minnan-Wong, Toronto’s Conservative-supporting deputy mayor who represents Don Valley East – just south of Carroll’s ward – said he’s not sure that decision has registered with voters.

“I think we’ve got some real fiscal challenges,” he said. “Inflation’s going to be a problem, the economy is going to be a problem and we need to start talking more about economic issues. We need to talk more about spending, deficits and debt, and I think folks are in a bit of denial. They don’t want to talk about these things.”

It may be that talking clearly about “these things” in the fourth wave of a global pandemic is just beyond us all. But that’s not to say we didn’t make a collective call.

Until Sept. 20, the Liberal minority government didn’t really have the mandate to take the country on what might have been a hard-left turn just over a year ago. Now, with the shape of parliament barely changed at all, that mandate emerges.

And that, finally, is what it was all about.




Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 at 2:59 pm and is filed under Governance Debates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply