If there ever were a time and set of circumstances when the level of education, the capacity of critical thought, the willingness to parse the rhetoric and to get past the charisma of political campaigns are highly valued and valuable as national traits, that would be the week from now until next Monday, Election Day in Canada.
Nevertheless, one party leader takes to “props” of piles of Canadian small bills, to illustrate the cost of one of his opponents’ platforms on middle class taxpayers. It is as if that leader is so cynical about our ability to conceptualize numbers into piles of ten and twenty-dollar bills that he has an attractive female pile them one by one while the national television cameras are running, recording and eventually spinning this tripe across the country.
Another party leader, like the most recent iteration of his fabled father, struts, literally struts, while smiling and telling the country “what he is not ready for”, in a direct shot at one of his opponent’s national advertising spots. Growing up in the back of chauffeur-driven limousines, and in the private cabins of the prime minister’s plane, and on the slopes of the world’s best downhill skiing mountains, one could hardly do more than mouth the words of “a struggling middle class” knowing so little of that way of life as to hold it merely as an abstraction, a talking point, written by some wordsmith in his camp, written in the profound conviction that the middle class has suffered under the current administration.
Another party leader stoops to the lowest nadir of all, premising his campaign on a balkanized country divorce, and deploying the most base kind of racist debate, whether or not the niqab is a national issue of significance...anything to get on the radar screen of the national media! How insulting can this campaign become?
Throughout, only one leader has consistently demonstrated a level of decorum, decency, moderation, thoughtfulness, and intellectual rigor worthy of becoming the country’s next national leader. And after all, when all the promises have been costed, compared, graphed, digitized and disseminated, (and their comparative merits generally point in the same direction to the middle or left of the political right of the last decade), the country needs a new leader, a man (Ms May is not yet in a position to win sufficient votes to form a government, although she too has demonstrated a level of intellectual discipline, and adult demeanour worthy of the top job) who can and will take “our” place in Paris, and in New York, Washington and London and Berlin and Brussels, representing the country with incisive insight, a serious presentation that will quickly earn the respect of his international peers, and advocate positions that will add to his respect back home.
Of course, there will be some of us whose vote for the NDP will get lost in a riding where the NDP have no hope of winning; nevertheless, voting NDP is still a principled expression of a mature and thoughtful citizen, one that has not and cannot be swayed by either of the ‘old party’ leaders.
The last decade has clearly left the Conservative leaders scraping the bottom of the public opinion barrel. However, let’s not forget, that in the decade before him, the Liberals were so tarnished that the country threw them out. Their hold on national power, over the last century-plus has been so extensive that, of course, their current class of operatives cannot help but be imbued with a sense of national entitlement, a sense that their party is “the national political party” of record. And this sense of entitlement, while perhaps moderated under the current leadership, is nevertheless completely excised from the culture of the party.
We need a government of a party whose history of apprenticeship in many provinces over many decades demonstrates a capacity to bring in new ideas that have garnered national acceptance and even respects, a willingness to bring about social change without blowing up the vault, and leaving a huge burden on the next generations, and a capacity to lead without arrogance and offense, even providing considerable weight to the national debate. Witness names like Broadbent, Blakeney, Douglas, Romanov, Barrett, Harcourt, Rae (before his magical conversion to the Liberals), and Shreyer, and both David and Stephen Lewis, and now Notley, among others.
Polls that point to a Liberal minority have only emboldened the Liberal leader; they have only pointed out the impact of a slick campaign, a slick platform and a kind of political opportunism (its all about gaining power, not about whether the policies or the leadership or the culture of the party really matter). The Canadian electorate has been induced by scintillating political advertising and campaigning in the past. This time, there is so much turbulence in the world community, and so many large and threatening issues confronting the world leaders, that, Canada needs a seasoned, veteran, experienced and modest party and leader for our national government.
Harper has proven his time is over. Trudeau has yet to demonstrate more than a theatre arts/teaching capacity, not unworthy in themselves, but hardly demonstrating a kind of grit and experience both the country and the international community so desperately need. Talking points, backroom advisers, managers and “bagmen” do not comprise a government. And elected members, no matter their respective skills and talents, can not and will not substitute for a empty suit in the PMO.
On Monday, October 19, Tom Mulcair and the NDP offer the best combination of experience, policy, demeanor and temperament to the Canadian electorate.