Columnists reflect the views of their authors and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of Pique Newsmagazine or Glacier Media.
Our current federal election reminds me uncomfortably of the U.S. election between The Don and Hillary Clinton. No, I’m not suggesting Mr. O’Toole is anything like Donald Trump, although I harbour a deep suspicion he’s a great deal more like Stephen Harper and what we’ve always thought of as the Conservative Party than the kinder, gentler, bigger-tent party he’d like us to believe.
I am suggesting Mr. Trudeau is a great deal like Hillary Clinton. While not imagining JT in drag—unless attending a costume ball and going as, say, Aretha Franklin—there is a haunting resemblance. Hillary Clinton was, perhaps, the worst possible candidate the Democrats could run against Trump. She came into the election with more baggage than a cargo plane. She was loathed by many within her own party. She failed to inspire the party faithful and watched formerly Democratic voters bleed away, delivering the election to... well you know what happened.
It is impossible for me to defend, let alone applaud, Trudeau’s track record. I was hopeful he would step aside and let someone else, Chrystia Freeland for example, ascend to the party leadership when he waded into his third conflict of interest. But he didn’t and the only choice is to play the cards as dealt.
Which led me to make a checkmark next to Patrick Weiler’s name last weekend. Here’s why.
Not even Jagmeet Singh deludes himself into thinking the NDP will form government. Minority—most likely—or majority, spare us, the next government is going to be led by the Liberals or the Conservatives. The NDP are likely to hold the balance of power. So if, in this riding, you’ve been wowed by Avi Lewis you have to ask yourself this question: Which of those two party’s policies do you think the NDP have a better chance of nudging in the right direction?
Frankly I can’t imagine the NDP or Bloc supporting a Conservative minority government. But then, I couldn’t believe the B.C. Green Party’s Andrew Weaver rolled over when B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan decided to greenlight Site C here in Lotusland. Politics make strange bedfellows.
The most often cited reason people give for gushing over Mr. Lewis is his bulldog commitment to environmental policies to fight climate change. While I don’t doubt his passion, I believe he’s a political dilettante, a grandstander long on showmanship and probably short on staying power. Should he be elected he’s likely to discover the inconvenient truth about the power backbenchers in opposition, even rock star newbies, have to move the party’s needle very far in the direction of their personal crusade. I can’t imagine his ego gracefully suffering that reality check.
That would leave this riding without much presence at the table.
Patrick Weiler on the other hand has been as good an MP as this riding has ever enjoyed. He’s delivered the goods and been a tireless worker, meeting tirelessly with almost any individual or group that asked. Without grandstanding or fireworks he’s demonstrated a commitment to environmental issues that rival the other green candidates.
And if you were able to sit through the all-candidates’ meeting last week, you may have noticed something unusual. He answered the questions put to him. Calmly. Factually. With as little glossing over the ugly side of the Prime Minister as possible and without attacking his opponents.
By comparison, John Weston sounded like a pathetic broken record of Conservative soundbites. He failed to even begin to answer uncomfortable questions, like why he’s taken a pass on most of the all-candidates meetings, especially those dealing with the environment, like the implications of his party’s membership voting to deny climate change is real just last March, like, well, any question he was asked. Instead, we were treated to a repetitious litany of Mr. Trudeau’s sins and shortcomings.
Mr. Lewis did answer questions. He answered like the showman he is, letting his zealotry show through with his rapid descension into playing the racist card when he felt the opportunity arose. Flash and celebrity rarely work well in the sausage making of politics. It’s a one-way ticket to irrelevance or uncompromising ideology.
Irrelevance is where the Green Party finds itself these days. Their raison d’etre has been usurped now that even the Conservatives have half-heartedly embraced environmental issues. I can’t understand why anyone would continue to vote for a party that is unlikely to ever have enough sitting members to require more than a tandem bicycle to get them to Parliament Hill.
It is unnecessary to waste words on the other candidates except to express the heartfelt desire that the PPC manages to bleed away enough votes from the Conservative candidates across the country to make a difference.
So the stark, unpleasant choice is clear. The next government will be led by either Erin O’Toole or Justin Trudeau. In this riding, in this election, every vote for Avi Lewis or the Green Party’s Mike Simpson is a vote that will ensure John Weston is once again our MP. We’ve seen that movie before.
Whatever your personal hot button issues are, environment, childcare, infrastructure, monetary policy, COVID-19, aboriginal justice, healthcare, whatever, you’re going to be stuck with the policies outlined by the Liberals or Conservatives. You can, as many people have said, vote with your heart for someone you feel you can truly believe in or you can vote with your head for—sigh—the lesser of evils. One way or another, you’re going to have to face the reality one of those evils are going to be calling the shots until the next election is called.
While I’m fed up with Justin Trudeau, I take solace in the likelihood he’s a dead man walking. He’s clearly not going to get the majority government that motivated this unnecessary election call. It’s shaping up he may not even hold on to his minority. Either way, it’s going to cost him his head and not too long after the election we’re going to see his backside leaving the Prime Minister’s residence. Hope springs eternal for a smart replacement.
And while Mr. O’Toole talks like no Canadian Conservative leader before him, I have trouble believing he can move his party as far left as his campaign promises suggest. Even if he succeeds, his policies on so many important issues fall short of what’s needed and even short of those outlined by the Liberals.
That’s it. Cast your vote. It’s your choice and it’s not a pretty one. But it’s been a long time since pretty has been a ballot option and I fear it’ll be a longer time still until it is. With so much at stake, I can’t believe muddling through is the best we can hope for, but muddle we shall.
Oh, and just to be clear, “Maxed Out” is an opinion column. It is not reportage. It is not balanced. It is not objective. It is solely my opinion, not that of Pique Newsmagazine. Capiche?