Gabrielle’s Review of the 2019 Canadian Federal Election

Well, that was a shitshow.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset about the outcome (for the most part). I think it’s actually one of the better of all possible outcomes (I said possible). I’m just glad it’s over. It was a really tiring few weeks that frankly made me even more pessimistic for the future than I already was.

It had all the normal features of a Canadian election: The Liberals and Conservatives pretending that they’re only running against each other, a predicted NDP surge that everyone but the NDP knows isn’t going to materialize into votes, the Bloc appearing out of nowhere again, the Greens desperately trying to get people to realize they’re the only sensible party, Warren Kinsella showing up at the eleventh hour to fuck everything up, more than the occasional dash of racism, the CBC pretending that the Maritimes matter for an hour and a half, and everyone having really intense opinions about news anchors and MPs in ridings they don’t live in and other public figures who they only remember exist when there’s an election.

But the usual ho-hum electoral recipe was modified this time by a lot of meanness, a lot of mudslinging and a lot more callous partisanship than I’m used to seeing in this country. I’m not a Canadian apologist: our home and native land isn’t one free from these things and anyone who says it is should be called out for lying. But meanness doesn’t usually characterize our elections; it’s not usually forty days of party leaders calling each other names instead of talking about policy. Debates usually have at least some content in them, instead of just everyone repeating their party line before moving into the next attack against their opponents. I really hope this doesn’t presage anything about the future of Canadian politics—no, I’m going to make sure it doesn’t.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals basically campaigned on two things: Justin Trudeau’s personality and the fact that Justin Trudeau was already the Prime Minister. The second thing worked for them, since they could highlight some of the things that they had legitimately done, but the first thing is starting to wear a bit thin. It’s what got them elected in 2015, but it’s frankly putting the party in danger. After the Liberal party collapsed in 2011, they really only rallied because he showed up on the scene and had nice hair and a last name that people liked. And that’s fine, but that can’t be the foundation of the party going on ten years later. The Liberal Party has some promising up-and-comers, and Trudeau would be smart to put a few of them in high-profile positions to make sure the party has an actual future after he’s done as PM.

The Conservatives under Andrew Sheer did just about what you expected the Conservatives under Andrew Sheer to do: They promised that we’d go back to the Harper era of cuts and austerity, that somehow oil would become profitable again, and called Justin Trudeau names. A lot of names. I’m not sure that in forty days Sheer managed to get through an entire paragraph without mentioning Trudeau’s name, which is just bad tactics if you ask me. Even his concession speech was full of it. Sheer was an emotionless robot (though he did look like he might cry during parts of his concession speech) who could only play back his party’s slogan, so I have no doubt this is the fault of whoever was telling him what to do. They really messed up. They also just targeted the wrong areas if you ask me; a Conservative candidate shouldn’t spend that much time in Quebec, and should really focus on Ontario instead.

Yves-François Blanchet really rallied the Bloc Québécois in this election. He’s the kind of leader who kind of makes me wish that the Bloc was a real political party with actual aims instead of just the whiny ‘give Quebec more protection money’ party. But he comes off fairly left-leaning and he’s very charismatic, and his speech made it sound like he was planning to support the Liberal government. And the writing seems to be on the wall that he doesn’t get along with François Legault, which is for the best. Those factors coming together is a good sign, especially since a smart Bloc caucus understands that supporting a left-leaning government is more to their benefit, since the Conservatives are happy to pretend that Canada stops at Manitoba’s eastern border, except for occasionally when they care about the 905 in Toronto.

Jagmeet Singh really proved himself as NDP leader throughout this campaign. He’s energetic and charismatic and smart, he comports himself well under fire and he’s good at connecting with his base. He really did a lot to bring the party back to where it should be after Mulcair tried to drag them to the right in 2015, which was a terrible mistake that cost the NDP a lot of ground. I do think that if Singh had been leader in 2015 he might have beat Trudeau. I don’t think it’s his fault that the NDP lost almost half its seats; that’s a continuation of a trend of partisanship and people buying into the idea that there are only two viable parties (which for the moment there are, but that’ll change). All that said, I do think the mistake Singh made was that he often acted like a normal politician during speeches and debates. He just reiterated his party line, rather than saying what the actual content of his platform was—I could understand Sheer doing that since his platform had no content, but the NDP’s actually did—and I think it diluted his message. Between that and his frequent attacks against the Green Party, which just came off as him being petty, I think mistakes were definitely made in his campaign, some of them fairly rookie.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was and remains the only party leader who is qualified to be Prime Minister, which of course is why she didn’t stand a chance. She’s a much better speaker, it’s clear she knows what she’s talking about, she understands the issues, and even when she’s reciting her party line it sounds natural because the party line is the thing she actually thinks. I was really glad to see her party make some gains, both in popular vote and a very minimal seat gain, especially outside of British Columbia. I really wish she’d compromise a bit more with the other parties. I understand why she can’t, but it’s too bad. And I wish the other parties would compromise with her a little; if any one of them had just agreed to establish that environmental committee with her at the head, which is a brilliant idea, the election wouldn’t have been nearly so nail-biting.

I want to give a special shout-out to Jody Wilson-Raybould, who maintained her seat in Vancouver Granville as an independent. It’s really hard to run without a party, and I’m glad to see her constituents support her even when Trudeau and the Liberal Party aren’t. We need more people like her who are willing to stand up for what’s legal and more importantly what’s right even if it means being ousted from their party and having their jobs threatened. She’s frankly an inspiration and we need more MPs like her. I hope she’s a thorn in the government’s side for the next four years, honestly.

I’m not going to talk about Maxime Bernier. He’s a disgrace, his party is a sham and I’m glad that Canada repudiated him to the degree that he didn’t even win his own seat back. Good riddance.

All told, I think a Liberal minority is the best of all legitimately possible outcomes. Taking away their majority forces them to compromise and deal with the other parties, especially the NDP, who hold just enough seats to be Canada’s rudder if they play their cards right. The other possibility is that they’ll play nice with the Bloc, which given their anti-pipeline, socially-minded leftist policies outside of sovereignty, I think has the potential to be just as productive. It’s not the best outcome that could possibly happen, but it’s far from the worst. As far as elections go, it’s fine.

So basically, it was a Canadian election.

In positive news, I won in my riding, and so did Franz and Hector. So keep an eye on the next election, because it’s probably going to go a lot differently. But keep that to yourself for now. Wouldn’t want to give away the game.

2 thoughts on “Gabrielle’s Review of the 2019 Canadian Federal Election

  1. “What is a ‘riding’?”, asked the American, displaying an almost stereotypical ignorance of other countries’ affairs.


    1. 😀 Not to worry, it’s a specific term to our type of government. A riding is basically like an electoral district. A party needs to win a certain number of them nationally to win the election. Unlike in the US system though, each riding has its own election with a candidate from each party running, and you vote not for the leader of the party but for the person in your riding. Whoever wins that local election then becomes that area’s Member of Parliament, and whichever party has the most Members of Parliament elected gets to form the government and have their leader be the Prime Minister.

      Hopefully that’s clear! As is probably obvious, I’m quite happy to talk about this, so if you have any other questions, feel free to ask. 🙂


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