Rough times at the top
This is the first federal election I can remember when coverage of leaders and issues is often well down in the TV newscasts. There are no dulcet tones of politicians until after Afghanistan, forest fires, Haiti and other catastrophes. This subterfuge may be regarded as helpful by the Liberals who have been hurt by the unpopularity of the early election call, the resurgence of Covid and the so-so performance of Justin Trudeau. By contrast, the chipper appearances and fully fleshed-out campaign commitments of Conservative leader Erin O’Toole have surprised everybody.
But what if, as appears likely, the outcome is another Liberal minority? Who will take the fall? In 1965, the Liberals under Lester Pearson had a minority and an election produced another Liberal minority. As campaign chair, Finance Minister Walter Gordon had promised to resign from cabinet if there were no majority and he followed through on that promise. If the 2021 campaign yields another Liberal minority the blame will accrue to Trudeau. There might be those within the party who will see the need to oust him.
Among the self-anointed candidates could be Chrystia Freeland, who happens to be my MP in the Toronto riding of University-Rosedale. I don’t think she has the royal jelly and here’s why. About three years ago, I heard her speak to a large group that included both adults and children. The speech was forgettable but an answer she gave to a question is seared into my memory. Two young girls, maybe nine and eleven, came to the microphone during the question and answer session. They asked how she had become a parliamentarian and what they could do to achieve the same.
All she had to do was say something upbeat like, “You two are already under way. Maintain your interest in current affairs, do volunteer work in the community and seek leadership roles. With women comprising only 25 percent of the House of Commons, we need more females like you in office.” Instead, she told a backstory that few could match. She said that she’d been asked to run by Trudeau and when she said no, he persisted. At the time Freeland was living in New York City with her family. Her husband and offspring were against her running and did not want to move back to Toronto. She insisted, and they moved.
Another obvious candidate, Mark Carney, former bank governor in both England and Canada, kept his powder dry by not running in this election. He cannot be blamed for another Liberal minority that will be viewed as a debacle by the Natural Governing Party of Canada as they like to call themselves. As for me, my preference would be an Erin O’Toole government. Now, that would hit the top of the news.