With four months to go before it officially begins, everyone seems to agree that the 2019 federal election will be the nastiest in many years,
A national election campaign is, or should be, the centrepiece of our democratic system, a time when great and important ideas – policies vital to the nation’s future – are debated before the jury of electors.
That’s the theory. In practice, big ideas make most political leaders nervous, especially during elections. They find it expedient to narrow their focus, to emphasize proposals with immediate or short-term electoral appeal, and to expend their energy on attacking their opponents.
The current 2019 exercise in democracy is following the familiar pattern.
“Because America deserves better.”
That’s the campaign slogan of Bill Weld, the former (1991-1997) governor of Massachusetts, who made it official last week. He is doing what other Republicans – congressmen, senators, governors – milquetoast politicians all of them, fear to do. He is challenging Donald Trump for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.
Tiger Woods’s return to the pinnacle of sport, capturing the 2019 Masters championship after 11 years in golf’s wilderness, is an inspiration for anyone who struggles against adversity – including, I venture, some of today’s political leaders.
Canadian provincial politics has a rich history of come-from-behind parties emerging from the margins to occupy the epicentre of power. The Greens are poised to show the rest of Canada that it can happen in P.E.I. as well.
And while the Greens may appear to lack any experience in governing, this, history shows, is not always a disqualification for office.
New, untested parties have formed effective governments. A look back into the history of provincial politics in Canada shows that the seemingly improbable can become fairly mainstream and practical.
Hon. Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario
My Dear Premier Ford,
I beg you to accept my apologies for ignoring you. Here you are about to present your 2019 budget, wherein you will unpeel the next layer of your vision for Ontario, and I have not offered you a scintilla of counsel. Mea culpa. (That’s Latin for “open for business,” Sir.)
“Can't anybody here play this game?” – Baseball savant Casey Stengel
Poor Casey suffered the misfortune of being the manager of the 1962 New York Mets, an expansion team with a 40-120 won-lost record and a label as the worst team in major league baseball history.
This is a stretch, I admit, but it seems to me that Stengel’s question – “Can’t anybody here play this game?” – could be asked of the 2019 version of the Liberal Party of Canada managed by Justin Trudeau.
There are countries in this world that are trying to cope with genuine, history-altering issues. Venezuela has a despised president who will not leave. The United States has the political train wreck of Donald Trump. Britain has the inept Theresa May and her self-inflicted Brexit disaster. New Zealand, that most peaceable of countries, suddenly confronts the slaughter of Muslim citizens while they are at prayer.
The SNC-Lavalin affair is a bit like Shakespeare’s “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.”
It has had its hour and much more. It has wreaked considerable havoc, damaging the credibility of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and knocking his Liberal Party into second place in the polls, while, ironically, making one of the Liberals’ own, Jody Wilson-Raybould, a heroine – an Indigenous woman bravely fending off a horde of male politicians who pursue power at the expense of principle.
Is the SNC-Lavalin/Jody Wilson-Raybould uproar really the silver bullet that will slay Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government?