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Airbus. Adscam. The Senate Scandal. The SNC-Lavalin affair.
Ottawa has a revolving door problem. Every time the Liberals and Conservatives trade places governing the country, a scandal breaks out.
Often it involves the intersection of money and votes. Inevitably, passionate opposition members rail against corruption and partisan mischief.
Then, after the following election they take their place on the other side. The two parties become carbon copies of each other once they are elected into power, or sitting in opposition.
Back, and forth. Then back again.
We are seeing this political charade play out in real time right now. It is awe inspiring to witness; Justin Trudeau muscling the judiciary not-unlike his predecessor, Stephen Harper.
Deliciously, opposition conservative front-benchers, many of whom were once cabinet ministers who used to read various boilerplate statements of their own, complete with ambiguous language and sketchy denials, are practically fainting at the arrogance; that the Liberals would govern interfering as they once did.
That the Liberals and Conservatives would govern Canada similarly is unsurprising. Both parties are burdened with managing their own hypocrisy, after all, and they work hard drenching all of their statements through a public relations mechanism resulting in that frustrating, corporate non-speak us media types hate so much.
These similarities are not just strategies employed to stall and disrupt committee processes and other fun procedural tools, but they reveal a mutual set of ideological underpinnings that features court cases against veterans, the snail’s pace of progress in Canada’s northern communities, and other huge court battles on the bureaucratic side, in almost every federal department.
We have two major parties in Canada who share so much in common that the only real differences between the goodies they offer is the paper they use to wrap up the details. Canadians are then given gifts from the grifters during election years. Often they offer bribes, which are then watered down or forgotten after the election. Sometimes they just send us all cheques.
Back, and forth.
It is through this frustrating reality that we should give a closer look at Jagmeet Singh and the NDP. We have already given the keys to the family car to two incorrigible and dishonest siblings, so perhaps the time has come to hand them over to the one who has not had the opportunity to total the vehicle…yet.
This isn’t an endorsement of the NDP or their policies; it is a cynical-yet-logical idea born out of a frustration with the revolving door.
Many of us are exhausted watching the two natural governing parties trade places and copy each other’s ethics.
Anyone who remembers the recent history of the senate scandal that engulfed the Harper government can see the similarities in the defensive tone and demeanor of the Trudeau government as they navigate the SNC-Lavalin Affair. And while Harper had to deal with an almost daily dose of Tom Mulcair’s measured and effective dismantling of the conservative narrative, Trudeau’s improper behaviour has created a small mutiny led by Jody Wilson-Raybould who has made calling truth to power a public blood sport.
And while Trudeau was successful at stealing the progressive vote in 2015, his behaviour has eroded his credibility among the centre/centre-left in Canada.
He still says all the right things to be considered an actual progressive, but he is over-the-top and often juxtaposes the tone with the issue at hand.
All of this means that Singh has a lot of material at his disposal, an almost endless trove of examples showing him how not to govern, or how not to react to a scandal.
His biggest problems right now are twofold; his leadership seems disjointed and uninformed, and he seems at least partially beholden to the identity politics wing of his party.
Turning everything into an issue about gender doesn’t marinate with voters, and it actually works to turn off a huge segment of the population who feel like they are trapped in an Orwellian nightmare. As it happens, we don’t like to be lectured much.
Singh can learn from Trudeau who taught us that even the poster child of progressive platitudes could not satisfy the appetite of identity extremists. Like it or not, a party who fully embraces a political view seen only through a social political lens can likely never be elected in Canada.
Singh also has an opportunity to steal the leftovers of Trudeau’s original mandate, including the dismantling of the first-past-the-post voting system.
This campaign promise was abandoned by the Liberals when the committee they assembled came back in favour of proportional representation, leaving many Canadians unsatisfied with the party protectionism on display.
Marijuana legalization also needs an overhaul, and Singh can make a lot of headway talking definitively about clemency for those saddled with criminal records, or how there are now 40 new types of charges pertaining to possession, making Trudeau’s version of legalization feel more like a new version of prohibition.
Point is, Singh is untested but unblemished as well. Aside from his butchered interview with Terry Milewski where he couldn’t muster the courage to call out Sikh extremism, his brand does not include scandals or corruption, making him the lesser of three evils in Canada.
We are a country that has turned the NDP into sort of a depressing meme, a party who could never recapture the magic they had when Jack Layton was their leader. But these are tipping point times, where rewarding corrupt hypocrites is no longer an option. You may not be a left winger, or even a moderate progressive, but to cast a ballot for a party you know has lied and cheated would be an exercise in political nihilism.
So hold your nose, let out a sigh, and vote accordingly.