Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:
There's a political axiom in the U.S., that says, "Nobody doesn't beat somebody." While that seems like a bit of nonsense worthy of Lewis Carroll, its etymology traces back to the unusual way some jurisdictions elect judges in that country. Sitting judges "run" to be retained, not re-elected. They run unopposed and voters are asked whether they wish to retain judge X or not. If they do, the judge sits for another term. If not, another election is called and opposing candidates go at it. In those jurisdictions, judges are rarely not retained, hence the saying.
Canada has just added a new axiom to the bloodsport of politics in the wake of the 2015 federal election: Anybody can beat somebody.
It would be nice if someone skilled in needlepoint would be kind enough to make a sampler of that saying for you, Justin, because you are Anybody.
You bear the title, Prime Minister, and you wield the power of the office but make no mistake, the real winner of Monday's election was Anybody, as in Anybody But Harper. Many of the votes that put you at the head of a majority government were cast for Anybody. Not somebody. Not you. Quite a few of those votes would have gone to the NDP candidate if he or she seemed most likely to defeat the Conservative candidate, a sprinkling more would have gone to the Green contender and made those who wanted to vote Green feel a whole lot better. And a not insubstantial amount would have voted for anybody leading the Conservative Party but Harper.
Consider for a moment Conrad Black's endorsement of you, Justin. (For those of you rubbing your eyes right now, yes, you read that right.) On the pages of the despicable National Post — well played, Mr. Coyne — the felon formerly known as Conrad Black endorsed you, calling Mr. Harper, who he unfailingly endorsed previously, "... a sadistic, Victorian schoolmaster." If a dyed-in-the-wool conservative like Conrad Black would be moved to cast his lot with the Liberals just imagine how many soft Tories abandoned the party. Many of them also held their noses and voted for the Liberal Anybody in their riding.
I'm not trying to take anything away from your victory, Justin, just attempting to remind you of two things. First, you sit in the unenviable position just vacated by your predecessor. Your party governs with a "majority" government while polling virtually the same percentage of votes as the Conservatives did in 2011. We thought their majority was bogus then and we don't consider your majority any less bogus. More about that in a few sentences.
The second thing you should remind yourself of every morning when you wake up is to be humble. You do not have a mandate from the Canadian people. You have a mandate from fewer than 40 per cent of the Canadian people and, apropos my earlier statement, many of them were a gift to you, a gift directly from Mr. Harper and the blind hatred he created among so many who thought he was ruining the country. Sometimes, when you're trying to do something hard, visualization helps. Visualize this: You, on your snowboard, standing at the high entrance to West Cirque on Whistler Mountain. You remember it, don't you? Big moguls, gnarly entrance, limited visibility. If that doesn't make you feel humble, you're too far gone.
So, my hopeful, humble leader, what to do first. Acknowledging your gratuitous majority, make good on your promise to engage the Canadian people to find a way to discard the first-past-the-post electoral system. Harder now, isn't it? You owe your majority to it. You have the power to ignore your promise to reform it. Do that and you and your party will be toast. I still have the tar simmering and the feathers handy.
Reach out to the other "progressive" — I hate that word — parties. Even if this election hadn't been about Anybody, your party, along with the NDP and Green parties would have had a real majority of Canadians behind you. If Mr. Thomas Mulcair was the problem with you embracing the NDP, he very likely won't be for long. Be big, be magnanimous, reach out and govern as though you had a minority and needed the NDP.
Ditto the indefatigable Ms. Elizabeth May. Yes, she's still a party of one but there are a lot of us who would rather have voted Green if doing so wouldn't have been a waste of our vote, or, in my case, if the Liberal candidate hadn't been so clearly the better choice.
Immediately build serious oversight into Bill C-51. Many of us were pissed off you supported it at all. Fix it and fix it fast.
Lead this country, kicking and screaming if need be, into a greener future. Stop subsidizing oil companies. Start pricing "exigencies" into fossil fuels. Listen to science, not money. Don't sell the country's sovereignty for a trade deal.
Bring back the long-form census. If we don't measure something, we don't know much about it. Unmuzzle people who work for the federal government. Fund science. Make good on your promise to tax the wealthiest Canadians. Support the provinces. Strengthen healthcare; we're all getting older.
Embrace immigration; we're not makin' enough babies on our own. Defend diversity, but strengthen the pride most "new stock" Canadians have in their adopted country by making them truly a part of this nation.
Make good on your promise to fund infrastructure. I don't know the last time you drove across Canada but it's a sobering experience. Our highways suck. Some bridges are scary. Some of us still pipe our poop into oceans and rivers. Too many communities can't drink the water that comes out of their taps. Provinces and municipalities have been downloaded on for too long; a federal government can't look good by passing the buck downstream.
Free your people, that is, the other 183 Liberal MPs. Put the whip away, neuter the PMO — you said you would — and restore some of the power our Members of Parliament have lost over the past decades. They represent us; you don't. Listen to what they have to say because they had better be listening to what we have to say if they know what's good for them.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. We're sick and tired of being lied to, condescended to and generally being treated like a nuisance rather than, well, the reason you are where you are. Answer questions you're asked. Even your little children are smart enough to know bullshit when they hear it.
Make us proud. Make us want to sew our Canadian flag on our backpacks again.
We'll talk about the second 100 days when we get there.
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