Canada has just surpassed even its own previous records for absurd and boring elections yielding predictable and dreary results.
Almost inexplicably, Trudeau called this election with the shortest possible campaign. He believed he could regain his majority as a recognition of what he imagined to be his distinguished leadership of the country through the coronavirus pandemic. Like Theresa May seeking a strong mandate to leave Europe and remain within it, Trudeau wanted a strong mandate to take the country on a drastic turn to the left which most people did not wish and Trudeau never seriously outlined.
In fact, Trudeau’s imposition of the Covid shutdown was far too severe and prolonged. He started negotiating with the Chinese for a vaccine which was soon shown to be ineffective. Canada was not in the 50 most comprehensively vaccinated countries in the world until about two months ago. Most Canadians consider that the amiable prime minister’s principal qualifications for high office are that he survived childbirth and has a famous name.
In the six years of his government, Trudeau has distracted the country with a ludicrously alarmist view of climate change and a preposterously self-important notion of how much difference Canada, with its minuscule carbon footprint and generally high ecological standards, can make. To this end he has persecuted Canada’s greatest industry (oil and gas) unmercifully and driven large sections of Western Canada to contemplate the possible deliverance of separation.
He has further taken it upon himself to acknowledge that English and French Canadians have been guilty of ‘cultural genocide’ against the native people, an outrageous allegation. Moreover, he has mired himself in gender controversy, confusing gender with sexuality, an unremitting preoccupation and a political bear-trap. It has been a faddish, and superficial regime, unleavened by the slightest spark of vision of what Canada could be or of originality in any public policy field.
But after yesterday’s election, the regime remains. All six federal Canadian political parties came in almost exactly where they were two years ago. Only the leader of the separatist Bloc Québecois, Yves-François Blanchet, possesses any of the evident attributes of a national party leader in a G-7 country.
All five political parties that elected MPs on Monday are left-of-centre parties. The Liberals have governed for 84 of the last 125 years, 22 full-term election victories versus eight for the Conservatives, largely because they opposed the imposition of conscription on French Québec in 1917 and the only conservative leader in all of that time who had any notion of how to deal with Québec was Brian Mulroney, the prime minister between 1984 and 1993.
With this Québec advantage the Liberals traditionally denigrate the Conservatives as cave-dwelling Neanderthals who will revive the death penalty against anyone who speaks well of abortion. Conservative leaders, even the astute Mulroney, have had great difficulty retaining the support of ideological conservatives while trying to contend with the liberals for the support of any appreciable number of centrists.
Canadians tend to be too preoccupied with their indistinctness to the Americans to be anything but ambiguous in the world. This is reflected in their domestic politics. It is a good, prosperous, rather generous country, but an unexciting one, and that trait is magnified in the mediocrity of its current political leaders.
That has rarely been as conspicuous a problem as in the late election and its nonsensical outcome. Democracies get the government they deserve, a sobering thought for Canada.
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