The brazen disregard for laws, traditions and ethics as giddy politicians do cartwheels through loopholes is getting on my nerves.
The “snap” federal election coming September 20 is more than two years prior to the so-called “fixed date,” which was supposed to be in 2023 on the third Monday of October (four years after the last poll.)
OK. I get it. The Liberals want a majority to avoid the nasty business of haggling over legislation with pushy and adversarial opposition. The pandemic uncertainty requires split-second decisions without annoying debate.
Of course, spending a half-billion dollars to rush a national election with a seven-week campaign, as a fourth wave of the pandemic unfurls, is a bold move. Some of the usual suspects are calling it selfish, others say reckless.
Just last week, the Liberals straight-faced explained that spending billions to sell oil abroad is required to fund carbon reduction programs. The irony would be hilarious if Canada and most of the world weren’t experiencing record heatwaves, forest fires and floods.
As far as I'm concerned, the only benefit of having the election now is that it saves having to do it next year because I’m certain the Bloc, NDP and Tories would have rejected the next budget and not waited for it in 2023 either. A federal, provincial and municipal budget all in one year would have killed me in a worse way than coronavirus.
My Gritty grievances are long and detailed, mostly because I always hoped the Liberals would just do what they promised and it’s always a bit disappointing.
Chief among my pet peeves is how Justin Trudeau promised to end the ‘first past the post’ electoral system and then didn’t with the lamest of excuses. Naturally, there are many more bones to pick but it really doesn’t matter how slow their promises materialize or how quickly they evaporate. The choices are slim.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, meanwhile, has done all that’s humanly possible to make Trudeau’s gaffes and misdemeanours go away. The Big Blue communication team has nuked any essence of serious statesmanship with the Willie Wonka and Port-a-Potty garbage ads.
Having divisions under the party tent doesn’t help with half of them leaning further right than the Cult of Trump American Republicans.
The NDP, on the other hand, is positioned well to gain ground. Jagmeet Singh’s on an upswing and memories of the 2019 post-election blues are a fogging memory in the rearview mirror.
The only good thing about the elections is that it gives the Green Party a chance to unite for a fight instead of grappling with its inner conflicts.
It’s obviously going to come down to riding battles with Trudeau needing to add about 15 more seats.
That explains the timely announcement late last week that seniors are getting a $500 injection to ward off the coronavirus at the polling stations.
Trudeau is betting Canadians will go with the ‘devil you know’ instead of the other options.
Will Nipissing-Timiskaming be a foil to the Gritty gambit? It’s been a Liberal stronghold for most of the past couple of decades with incumbent Anthony Rota offering a tough challenge to all comers.
Jay Aspin warmed his seat for a term when Stephen Harper swept to power for the Conservatives, but he was helped by Liberal fumbles and Aspin's name recognition that comes with decades of civic duty. Steve Trahan, named deputy mayor of East Ferris after the passing of long-time councillor Mike Voyer, threw his hat in the ring with less Nipissing-wide notoriety. But I don’t think being a police officer by trade is as big a political virtue it might have been, although it speaks to the Tory base well enough. He's got a tough row to hoe for his first kick at the can.
Scott Robertson, a first-term North Bay city councillor who has stepped down for the election, is carrying the NDP’s orange banner. He might surprise if Singh can communicate a reasonable case for doing all the progressive changes the left advocates. If only they can get enough rich people to agree to pay more taxes so the poor don’t have to face food and housing insecurity. Kidding. The rich prefer to dole out their charity in person, depending on their whims, so they can claim it against the next tax bill. Seriously, NDP success will come from convincing young voters they have the power to flip the script on the corporate manipulators.
No doubt there’s another candidate or two but I’m not familiar with them and certainly doubt they’ll be a factor.
Naturally, all parties will be vying for the senior vote.
You do have to give Trudeau and the Liberals some credit, they did get enough vaccines to vault Canada to the front of the global jab race to inoculate the highest percentage of the population.
And now all federal employees and anybody traveling will need to prove they have taken it if they want to work or move freely across the border.
So far, it looks like the mRNA experiment is saving a high enough percentage of recipients from being hospitalized as the Delta variant surfs through the population. The fly in the ointment will be if too many vaccinated people end up being super-spreaders.
I completely understand why some people are not rushing toward the needle as it’s being offered. World leaders, both politicians and medical experts, have got more than enough wrong from the outset of the pandemic to test public confidence. Very few seemed up to the task yet they played it as if they knew best, arrogantly dismissing options and alternatives only to reverse course later.
Between the obvious unsustainability of our consumerism economy and hypocritical capitalistic system dependent on taxpayer lifelines, it’s no surprise there’s cynicism at every turn.
Do I trust the vaccine won’t cause some kind of long-term adverse effect? Not really. But I figured it’s my best shot at avoiding serious illness in the short term while giving those around me a degree of comfort to renew personal and business interactions.
The vaccine was so rushed it should have come with a hefty insurance policy, like the one you get when boarding an airplane. We’re basically being coerced into taking the injection, there should be a payout to our families if it goes sideways.
I don’t mind the idea of a vaccine passport as a primary method of controlling the spread of the virus in public so the economy can reopen, although not by itself. Masks indoors or when distance can’t be maintained should continue as well, for this winter.
But until vaccinated people are not capable of transmitting the virus, perhaps we should be focussing on testing technology that can clear someone at the door of an establishment or workplace? I don’t understand why Canada and Ontario are not taking that path.
Dave Dale is a veteran journalist and columnist who has covered the North Bay area for more than 30 years. Reader responses related to his work can be sent to [email protected]. To contact the writer directly, email: [email protected] or check out his website www.smalltowntimes.ca