October 21, 2015 - 8:08 AM
— OPINION —
As Conservative Party of Canada political fortunes began to founder during the federal election campaign, the CPC began floating a message that Stephen Harper was “not perfect” and that the election was not really about him.
Instead, the Conservative Party seemed to content itself with the messaging that the election was really about the economy, and that no other party could possibly handle economic matters as they could.
In some dubious respects the latter message seemed true enough. Political and economic pundits alike suggested that no other party could quite handle the economy as the Conservatives had done. After all, under Stephen Harper, Conservatives ran successive deficits while promising that they would do the opposite. And Mr. Harper’s promises to diminish the size of government were contradicted by the reality of government blooming in scope as never before under his imperious watch.
But the kicker of a contention that this election was not about Stephen Harper? Horse feathers!
Ask newly-defeated incumbent Ron Cannan (Kelowna-Lake Country) what this election was about.
Despite Mr. Cannan’s gracious bearing amidst crest-fallen supporters last night in Kelowna, everyone could only content themselves with the fact that Mr. Cannan was a stunning example of fickle Dama Fortuna favouring the electorate’s desire for change at the top.
Ron Cannan became just another example of collateral damage.
But that’s life in politics, right? If ever there was an arena where the whim of Dama Fortuna holds greater sway, I can’t point to it. Happily, Ron Cannan can hold his head high, knowing that he served his constituency well, and that he is still young enough to have a profoundly positive effect in his community as he segues into life away from the den of vipers that is Parliament Hill. And a cushy severance cheque and healthy pension will dampen some of defeat’s defining sting.
Unlike Mr. Cannan and other Conservative MPs no longer preparing for a return to public office, I awoke yesterday morning, along with millions of other Canadian citizens, feeling cheesily optimistic, hopeful, even buoyant.
The buoyancy, however, was not fueled by a heart-felt contention that Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau would be a Canadian saviour. Far from it. Mr. Trudeau may be a more endearingly human face to awaken to; but time will tell if his hope-themed campaign will have any legs once the House sits again and our MPs get back to the tricky business of running a government.
And man oh man, Mr. Trudeau has a lot of promises to live up to.
In the final analysis, I want to suggest that there are at least two positive things to emerge from this election.
First off, the man in a blue suit that many loved to hate (and, admittedly, I will miss kicking Mr. Harper’s arse all over the page) is no longer our Prime Minister. He is Alberta-bound, where he will find himself in a Looking-Glass World in which two of his fiercest political rivals, Premier Rachel Notley and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, hold sway for the foreseeable future.
But most importantly: This election saw a massive increase in voter turnout.
In the Okanagan ridings alone, we bucked the national increase with well over 70 per cent of the electorate turning up at the ballot box.That’s remarkable, I think. And it suggests that this election campaign galvanized into action many folks that were either voting for the first time, or were brought back to exercising their democratic franchise because they sensed that, this time around, there was an urgent need to do so.
In the spirit of fairness and optimism for Canada’s future I want to give the new Liberal government a chance to manifest its stated aims as the coming months fast-track them into the new political reality. With Mr. Trudeau’s promise to do politics differently, to be less divisive and autocratic than his predecessor, I fervently hope that this is a signal to all Canadians that politics matters, and that a government’s success is defined by its ability to be inclusive and to engage with citizens, all citizens, and not just corporate stakeholders.
But don’t expect your Wednesday morning commentator, or the other op ed writers at Infonews.ca, to be mere cheerleaders for a new era in Canadian politics. With time the honeymoon will come to an end, and we’ll be here to sock it to the next guy, no matter how cute the Trudeau family may appear. It’s politics after all, even if this time around it’s not merely “show business for ugly people.”
— Jeffrey Loewen is a Kelowna-based writer who plays music by day and politics by night
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015