The Morning After


The results are in for the Canadian federal election, and nothing has changed. Nobody won. There is something profound and existential in that. Canada is the land where nothing changes, and nobody wins.

I hear speculation about this or that party leader losing their job. I doubt that. 

Justin Trudeau is not going to lose his job, because he is still prime minister, and he bought that party back from the dead in 2015, after a string of unsuccessful leaders. The Liberal Party is now “Team Trudeau”; they are entirely invested in him. 

Some say Erin O’Toole should lose his job, because he got a result no better than Andrew Scheer in 2019, and Scheer lost his job. But if changing the leader did not lead to a better result, why do it again? It makes more sense to try something new—like giving the guy a second chance, and Canadians time to get to know him. Last Tory leadership contest, nobody much seemed to want the job; most of the obvious candidates declined to run. So I doubt there is a lot of pressure from possible rivals to dump him.

Jagmeet Singh is not going to lose his job—the NDP is happiest when they are losing, and they tend to stick with leaders so long as they do not threaten, like Tom Mulcair, to win an election. That would be selling out.

Yves-Francois Blanchet surely does not deserve to lose his job. Like Trudeau, he pulled his party back from the brink a few years ago. It is now very much his party. And politicians with his talent are not easy to find.

Maxime Bernier is not going to lose his job, because he is better known and more popular than his party. Without him, it does not exist.

Annamie Paul will probably lose her job, but she was going to lose her job before the election was called. She has even suggested she does not want the job. 

So there is unlikely to be any political excitement as a result of this election either. The Green Party will choose a new leader, and at 3% and falling, nobody will care.

Canadian politics looks like it is in a deadlock. This has happened before. I’m an old fart; the last time I remember a mood like this was in 1963-67, when it seemed as though the Pearson Liberals and the Diefenbaker Conservatives could not get beyond exchanging minorities. That logjam was broken by the emergence from the wings of the exciting new figure of Trudeau.

But the Tories have already tried a leadership change, and the Liberals have already used up the “exciting new figure of Trudeau” gambit. This time, the one possible source of a reshuffle and new deal is Bernier and the PPC. They are offering something new. While they elected nobody, they expanded their support exponentially. 

Next time, with nothing changing elsewhere, and everyone that much more frustrated with the status quo, they may become the most important factor.

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