So, OK, yeah. The country did whatever that was, and now we’re in a similar place to where we were after the 2019 election.
Justin Trudeau is prime minister, with current predictions giving him about as many seats as when he called this thing back in August. Erin O’Toole is still Conservative leader, as of publication, but the party saw little change from what he started the election with. Jagmeet Singh’s NDP is more or less where they were, too. You could be forgiven for wondering if an election even happened.
It was a campaign of small ideas that gave us a result of small changes. Some old names were shuffled away and some new ones brought in, but the overall count remains just about the same. The story of this election is more about what it wasn’t about than whatever bullshit it was.
There are two massive crises facing all of us at the moment: the pandemic and climate change. And you honestly wouldn’t know that if the debates and the election were your only points of reference. There seems to be more elite panic over China and the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan than over a virus still rampaging out of control in large parts of the country and a world on fire. It was impossible to watch the election and find a way to connect it to the world around us.
This could have been an election focused on confronting the fact that more than 27,400 people and counting are dead due to the pandemic, and consider what we might do to make good on their loss.
How, after all this, did long-term care not become an issue at all? Instead, the Tory candidate in Thornhill, Ont., Melissa Lantsman, who was a long-term care home lobbyist, won her riding with somewhere around half the vote.
How did the fate of refugees, from the parts of the world already affected by climate change, not make it on the agenda?
How was the housing debate a contest for who could devise the most convoluted plans to hand home buyers money?
How did the drug toxicity crisis fail to have any impact?
How can you look at this election and not think this country is anything but broken?
How can the people running this country look in the mirror the day after this mess and say they’re capable of handling the various nightmares bearing down on us?
All of us face a series of long-term problems that our political leaders aren’t even bothering to face up to. And so, naturally, they hold an election about the dumbest shit imaginable. At the start of this thing, Trudeau said this was the most important election since 1945. And yet we got what, exactly? A fumbled quest for a Liberal majority.
It can’t be overstated how much the Liberal party screwed itself by calling an election and seemingly having no idea why they did so. There was no plan for what they wanted to do and no big picture ask or promise to offer. Trudeau and his party set the vapid tone for the last five weeks, so this is mostly their fault. But not entirely.
On the left — well, “the left” — the NDP has once again failed to determine what sort of party it wants to be. Singh is a charming and engaging presence, but his policy book seemed weak and shallow. Worse, his campaign was tied down by decisions made by provincial NDP leaders that run contrary to his stated values. But not so contrary that he’d call them out. It’s a party that bills itself as progressive, except where it wins elections — then it’s hardly different from the Liberals.
The Conservatives tried to make the case they were some throwback to the Progressive Conservatives. O’Toole’s concession speech was more a rallying cry for his party to stick with him, and give him a shot at achieving his middle-school ambition of becoming prime minister. It’s not clear they will.
Further to the right, the People’s Party of Canada managed to more than double the number of votes than the Green Party, and triple their 2019 outcome. The Greens, for their part, won two seats, one less than 2019. Leader Annamie Paul, meanwhile, came in fourth in her Toronto riding, losing out to even a Conservative. This was the third-straight time she’s lost in the riding. Make of that what you will.
It’s over and done with now. What comes next isn’t particularly inspiring. Canada is fundamentally rotten, and nothing that happened yesterday will fix it.