Well that was fun. Note the sarcasm. Last week the 2019 federal election saw the Liberal government under Justin Trudeau stay in power, albeit with a minority government.
The Conservatives remain as the official opposition and won the popular vote. The Bloc Quebecois edged out the NDP in terms of seat numbers, despite only taking seats in Quebec, the Green Party increased their seat numbers, the People’s Party of Canada failed to elect a single candidate, including their leader, and Jody Wilson-Raybould will be returning to Parliament as an Independent MP.
Locally, Rachael Harder of the Conservatives easily won the Lethbridge riding, getting re-elected with about 65.6 per cent — up from 2015 when she received about 57 per cent of the vote.
This past election was quite a ride. Although our local candidates remained civil — something which is unfortunately shocking in today’s politics — mud-slinging attacks were the norm. It seemed like the party leaders spent more time explaining that no, this isn’t in our policy plan, as they did explaining their actual policies and goals as leaders accused one another of planning to do terrible things while in office.
This is on the heels of a rather unfriendly provincial election in Alberta, which saw our legislature switch to essentially a two-party system with the government and official opposition on opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Adding in a black-and-brown-face scandal, apparent flip-flopping on controversial issues, a lack of moral backbone when it comes to Quebec’s Bill 21 and surprise citizenships, just to name a few, this election wouldn’t have looked out of place if it was happening south of the border.
Quite frankly, it is a surprise that more people just didn’t vote for the Rhinoceros Party out of frustration with the other parties.
While minority governments typically don’t last as long as majority governments before an election is held, it is safe to say that the next few years will be interesting. A majority government means that you know what you’re getting and the ruling party can push their policies through with relative ease, but a minority situation could potentially mean, or at least force, parties to listen to each other and compromise — a term that might as well be a four-letter word in politics given how everything is in absolutes lately — to create something that most can tolerate, if they can’t be happy with it.
We get it, it’s frustrating when your vision isn’t strictly your vision anymore. But no idea is perfect on the first go, and what might work for person “A” is terrible for person “B”. And yes, things will take longer to get passed, not that they moved along especially speedily in the last session. But at least this way other viewpoints will have to be considered, especially if you want to survive the vote.
There is some uncertainty about what this means for Alberta. While the day after the election, #wexit was trending — although how many of those were actually satirical in nature is left to be determined given how the vast majority of the province does not support separation — and the oil patch was predicting the end of times, because while the Liberals were given a mandate, it is not a majority mandate and they need support from other parties in order to lead. The oil patch considered this to be their worst case scenario, as both the NDP, Greens and Bloc have spoken out against pipelines and support for policies that aren’t that friendly to the oil and gas industry.
Trudeau has announced that he won’t be seeking a coalition with other parties. And while NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has quite the laundry list for NDP support that emphasizes the need for action on climate change, it does not say the pipeline needs to be axed. But increasing pressure to lower emissions and transit to renewables has caused concern for those in less green industries.
Another interesting point was the blue wave that swept Alberta and Saskatchewan. With the exception of a lone Edmonton riding which went to the NDP, every other riding in Alberta and Saskatchewan went to the Conservatives. This means the ruling party does not have an elected representative from this region, and must find a way to ensure that those who live here feel like they are heard.
Granted, with the premier of Saskatchewan going on about getting a ‘new deal’ with Canada and Alberta premier Jason Kenney saying Albertans have a right to be frustrated, despite Trudeau’s assurances that we are essential to the country, it sounds like people living here don’t think he’s got the message.
While the province as a whole is frustrated by how we’re treated in Ottawa, this feeling didn’t come from the past four years. This feeling has existed during both Conservative and Liberal governments, during boom times and bust times. It is beyond frustrating when other provinces take your hard earned money and call you names, and laugh when you say you’re struggling. It sucks when you need help and ask for help but aren’t taken seriously.
However, pitting us against them will not solve Alberta’s problems, and further land locking ourselves will do nothing to solve our issues, let alone get our resources to market. Just look at the many, many problems of Brexit; three years, two deals and two — possibly three if threatened elections are held — prime ministers later, they still haven’t sorted it out.
Division isn’t good for Canada as a whole. We work our best together, despite our many differences. While surely the federal and provincial governments must recognize that, they need to take action, swallow their pride and work together to solve these problems.