This federal campaign has been far too ugly.
It would be unfair to blame any one particular party, but it’s never the best strategy for anyone in the long run.
The problem in this campaign is that all parties seem to be held captive by their dogma. And in the political world that may eventually require parities to reach out to others for their supporter, that may prove to be unhelpful.
We are a week away from the Oct. 21 federal vote, one that will most likely produce a minority government of one variety or the other if the current opinion polls are vaguely accurate.
That result won’t be pleasing for Conservative supporters either way and will be especially frustrating if it is a Liberal minority backed by New Democrats and Green Party supporters.
For those already raising the spectre of Western alienation, and especially those who have been hollering about Western separation, the reality that you might have actually work with those whom you have spent an election despising.
And that difficulty has likely only been made worse. This is always difficult. This may be impossible after this campaign, especially last week’s English TV debate.
Of course, TV debates are always loud and more than little obnoxious. And in campaign where almost any personal slight seems acceptable, a few cheeky shots would seem permissible. In last week’s TV debate, they were even a little effective.
For example, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh likely scored when speaking directly to voters on the difference between Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s positions on climate change:” You do not need to choose between Mr. Delay and Mr. Deny. There is another option,” Singh said.
Similarly, Scheer was actually rather effective at hammering away at Trudeau on the Prime Minister’s firing of the only First Nations Justice Minister this country has ever had. And on Trudeau’s penchant to draw unpopular Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford into the federal election, Scheer noted to the Prime Minister that Ontario Liberal leadership was open.
Even Trudeau, who had a very bad debate night by any objective measure, managed to get in a shot or two. His best one tied Scheer to his old rival for the Conservative leadership, Maxime Bernier, who now leads the People’s Party of Canada. “Mr. Bernier, your role on this stage tonight seems to be to say publicly what Mr. Scheer thinks privately,” Trudeau quipped.
Some might find even this level of discourse too personal and inappropriate for the serious job of running the country.
But compared with how this debate started, these were mild exchanges.
Scheer kicked off the debate by what can only be fairly described as a nasty attack on Trudeau.
On the initially question on global affairs, Scheer quickly pivoted to the admittedly ridiculous blackface/brownface incidents of Trudeau’s younger years and launched into a diatribe on the Prime Minister:
“You’re a phoney. You’re a fraud and you do not deserve to be prime minister,” Scheer said.
Perhaps Conservatives who despise Trudeau loved this. No doubt, that one was at least one group Scheer was aiming at. The other group he was aiming at was anyone potentially exploring for Trudeau.
But it had nothing to do with policy. Really, it was a blatant attempt to get out a clip, one that supporters will eagerly share on FaceBook and other social platforms, ensuring its life continues.
Maybe it’s good for party morale, but it isn’t helpful in an election campaign where voters are already being turned off voters.
And, it may not be very helpful come the aftermath of this election when the time comes to find a way to govern a rather divided country.