A slap on the wrist

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We did it. We made it through another election. We dealt with the plethora of lawn signs that dotted all the major routes in North Grenville and watched as both local candidates and party leaders duked it out in local and national debates.

Canadians have spoken. Justin Trudeau’s Liberal team has been chosen once again to lead the country, but on a tight leash. With the new minority government, the Liberals will have to work across party lines to get anything through the house. As election day drew nearer, and with the possibility of a minority government looking more and more likely, Conservative leader Andrew Sheer warned of the dangers of a Liberal/NDP coalition, saying that it would see the federal debt skyrocket. It’s something we “can’t afford,” he said.

However, the idea of a coalition seems to be more of a scare tactic than anything else. Global News asked party leaders during the election how they saw the possibility of working with a Liberal minority government. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh expressed his interest in working with the Liberals on a number of files where they seem to see eye to eye, including climate change, pharmacare, interest-free student loans, cell phone bills, affordable housing, as well as taxing the “ultra-rich.” That being said, he maintains that their “focus is not on a coalition.”

With the surge in Bloc Québécois MPs in Quebec, winning more seats in this election than the NDP, the Bloc is another party that the Liberals will have to look at working with over the next few years. The Party’s leader, Yves-François Blanchet, says he won’t officially prop up a Liberal minority; however, his party will support proposals that are good for Quebec.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told Global News that her party is willing to work across party lines on items like climate change, however they will not formally back a government that supports pipelines. Given that Trudeau has announced that he is going ahead with the trans-mountain pipeline, it is unlikely that the Green’s three seats will swing his way.

Regardless of the fact that Monday night was celebratory for Justin Trudeau, it is clear that his significant missteps over the past few years have done some damage. They lost seats overall and have been completely shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan. One of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers, Ralph Goodale, lost his seat to the conservative representative in his riding of Regina-Wascana where he as been the MP since 1993. Trudeau made a point to address the country’s most conservative provinces in his victory speech, saying that he heard their frustrations and wants to be there to support them. “Let us all work to bring our country together,” he said.

It would be remiss not to mention the election results in our own riding in a reflection about the election. Not surprisingly, Michael Barrett won his seat in Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Island and Rideau Lakes, which has been a conservative riding since 2004. Even though the Liberals didn’t have a seat to lose in this riding, the results of the 2019 election as compared to 2015 clearly show a disenchantment with the Liberals. In 2015, the Liberals were almost neck and neck with the Conservatives in our riding, but last Monday’s results showed a much greater disparity in votes between the two parties. Interestingly, most of the Liberal’s lost support went to the Greens and NDP, both of which gained a significant number of votes in this riding.

It was clearly a good political move for the Liberals to backtrack on their 2015 promise of electoral reform, as they lost the popular vote to the Conservatives. Global news reported that it is extremely rare for a party to have lost the popular vote but still form the government, citing only one time (funnily enough in one of Pierre Trudeau’s minority governments) that this has happened in the past. Perhaps Trudeau junior is following in his father’s footsteps after all.

The outcome of this election is not a surprise. There are clearly enough Canadians (under our current electoral system) that are willing to give Justin Trudeau and his government another chance. The next four years will be about action. Will he be progressive and deliberate in his policies to fight climate change? Will he really work towards improving the lives of the middle class? Will he take action on the recommendations set out by his inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls?

Four years ago, Canadians put their confidence in Justin Trudeau, and even though he was green and inexperienced, they trusted him to have free reign on leading our country. After behaving badly, the result of the 2019 election is a slap on the wrist for him and his government. An “Ok you can continue to be our leader, but you clearly need a babysitter.” Let’s hope Jagmeet has his babysitting certificate…

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