Finding common ground will soon become much more difficult
To the Expositor:
The following are reasons why I remain somewhat pessimistic about the results of the recent federal election:
Two hundred and fifty thousand more people voted for Andrew Scheer’s party than for Justin Trudeau’s party. We may have dodged a bullet to find that a “first past the post” electoral process prevented Scheer’s version of the Conservative party from getting a mandate to lead the country, despite winning the popular vote. But the bad news is that there are so many more Conservative voters of the Trump and Doug Ford type in Canada than I expected. I am afraid that their feeling robbed of victory will likely fan the flames of their aggravation and may make finding common ground even more difficult.
The prospect that a different electoral process could have led to someone like Scheer becoming the leader of our country is most disturbing. One would expect our PM to have the best interests of all Canadians at heart, regardless of whether they voted for him or not.
Scheer is on record as saying he would not attend any gay pride parade, that he remains anti-choice where women’s reproductive rights are concerned, and would push even more pipelines through, this time without a pesky consultation process, presumably without business-strangling regulations to address health and environmental concerns of the populations through whose territories they would run. The danger is that, were Scheer to have won the election, it is not unreasonable to assume that, despite assurances to the contrary, a significant portion of the Canadian population might have been ill-served by a party led by this man.
It may sound surprising to read that I used to be drawn to the principles I believe the Conservative Party held a long time ago: “A hand up, not a hand out” inspired individuals, who needed help, to take responsibility for themselves, and the concept that good governance involves “fiscal responsibility tied to a social conscience” kept humanity in the monetary decision-making process.
I could be heartened by the fact that Scheer is on record as having said that the purpose of government should be “to lift people up, not tear them down.” The problem is that the two versions we see of conservative intentions represented in Doug Ford’s Ontario and Jason Kenney’s Alberta make few people living in those provinces feel anywhere near lifted up.
In Ontario, talk to teachers, parents of autistic kids, entrepreneurs in tree planting whose contracts have been cancelled, or people who rely on public health care services. In Alberta, talk to universities, cities and public service employees whose budgets have been slashed.
Why should we think that, if Andrew were to have gotten into power, he would have been able to resist reverting to the time honoured conservative tradition of tearing down the very social programs that “lift people up?”
My last reason for feeling pessimistic comes out of an experience when I was optimistic enough about conservative party intentions to offer to let my name stand in nomination as a Conservative candidate for the Manitoulin riding.
That was several years ago and involved an interview with the campaign chair. I expected his first question to be why I wanted to run for the Conservatives, but was shocked to have him say instead, “Would you be willing to do absolutely anything to win?” My reply? “Absolutely not!”
Clearly a “yes” to that question, under any circumstances, let alone the pursuit of political power, would call into question the very character, judgment, integrity and trustworthiness of any person who said it. Right?
Since that day, I question any Conservative candidate’s professed concern for the health and welfare of all Canadians, of all races, religions, abilities or disabilities, genders, sexual orientations or economic status.
On election night, Andrew Scheer, the official leader of the supposedly “loyal” opposition, rather than pledging to work with the government in the best interest of all Canadians, focused on winning the next election, putting the PM “on notice.” It makes me worry about how many of his people, more concerned with “winning” than “working”, have said or might say “yes” to the question I said “no” to.
Just writing this has depressed me. Hoping a second look at the outcome of the federal election will reveal just as many reasons to feel optimistic…