By Gerry Barker
Posted September 28, 2015
Guelph, Ontario – Prime Minister Stephen Harper must face the music October 19 when Canadians go to the polls. We are in the later stages of the longest election campaign in 115 years’ history. Even before modern transportation modes, cars, buses and planes, R.B. Bennett, the Conservative P.M. during the early days of the Great Depression, was never in his Calgary riding during the campaign that he won.
I know because my grandmother, Byrtha Louise Stavert, was his campaign manager.
So we are witnessing a Conservative leader and Prime Minister who has unlimited access to fly around the country and funding for his party’s quest for power. He is now asking for another mandate to run our country. He has been in charge for ten years as head of state.
As a young lad I recall my grandmother saying that: “People don’t vote governments in, they vote governments out.” She should know, witnessing Bennett go down in his second term to Liberal, Mackenzie King.
The Harper act is wearing thin with Canadians if you believe the polls, a dangerous trend three weeks before going to vote. There are serious cracks in the Conservative game plan, widening with the defections plus potential loss of cabinet ministers running for office.
Tory power is ever present
But never underestimate the political power and resources that the Tories possess.
Political pundits are all over the map guesstimating the outcome. Regardless, Canadian voters are of mixed emotions about this election. They are naturally cautious about selecting the right candidate, yet most are optimistic about our country and its future.
Harper has unleashed a number of publically funded initiatives that, in a normal election, would ensure re-election. But it’s different this time. His use of using scary terrorist attacks and the need to be more secure resonates with the Tory base. But using it as a crutch to deny Middle East refugees from immigrating to Canada for up to four years, backfired big-time. The public reaction was overwhelming in support of Canada helping these homeless refugees to settle in our country.
The question people are asking is: “If we can bring in 60,000 Vietnamese refugees to Canada, why can’t we help these middle east refugees from tyranny?”
The provincial NDP sweep in Alberta last spring was a shocker and impacted on the Conservative campaign because of the potential loss of core M.P.’s in that traditionally Tory bastion.
Thomas Mulcair sensed it was his destiny to form the first NDP federal government in Canadian history. Accordingly, he adopted a slightly centrist approach, promising to balance the federal budget and raise taxes to the rish and corporations among other promises of social action.
His feet were pulled out from under his campaign, with the announcement by a hard-core gang of 100 NDP elitists who demanded social programs and extreme environmental changes in the party platform. They split the party and undermined the leader’s campaign that attempted to move the party to the far left of the political centre.
Trudeau, Part two
Then, along came the young master, Justin Trudeau. Prior to the election call, the media had gotten off his bandwagon and were crooning about Mulcair. The Tory attack ads on Trudeau underscored “he’s not ready,” played by professional actors. It was a relentless television campaign starting weeks before the election writ was dropped. The ads set up the longest federal election campaign in recent memory.
Trudeau, needing seats in Ontario, hooked up with Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne. Bad mistake. Wynne’s popularity numbers in Ontario have plummeted since her June 2014 majority win.
Wynne is a good campaigner but a terrible premier. Her record is loaded with gaffes, mistakes and fiscal mismanagement that are alarming, given the province’s ongoing budget deficits. The current reported deficit sits at $10 billion. Yet her finance minister says the budget will be balanced by 2018. The Ontario Liberals haven’t balanced the budget since McGuinty came to power eight years ago.
The Ontario Liberals, under McGuinty and Wynne are like an old girlfriend, gone but not forgotten. The Ontario government is tired, dysfunctional and incompetent.
Yet Trudeau ties up with this dead horse of a government hoping some of the Wynne campaign fairy dust will get him some seats.
I believe Trudeau has great promise and if he wins enough seats to form the government, it won’t be a bad thing. In fact, I estimate it will take him about six months to prove that he was ready for leadership.
Like most people, I’m still undecided
Having said all that, I remain an undecided voter.
I have personal dislikes for some of Harper’s policies over the years. His candidate, Gloria Kovach, after 24 years on Guelph city council, she is the most qualified to represent our city in Ottawa.
With the way the NDP dominated council has controlled our city for the past eight years, I cannot support that party or its candidate, Andrew Seagram.
The Liberal candidate, Lloyd Longfield, underwhelms me. His record of heading the Chamber of Commerce and toadying up to city council was a failing grade. He was unable to influence the administration to increase industrial and commercial assessment, so he’s not ready for the Big Show. What I can’t figure out is why he’s not running for the NDP?
The Green Party candidate, Gord Miller, is a former senior civil servant acting as environmental commissioner for the province.
Like most Canadians, I feel the closer we get to October 19, the greater the polarization of the voters.
The real campaign has just started.
Retired newspaper executive, Gerry Barker is the editor of guelphspeaks.ca, a blog commenting on community, provincial and national affairs. He may be reached at: email@example.com