Conrad Black: Trudeau shouldn’t be so confident, even without any credible challengers
The Conservatives are recommending a national suicide line; if we can’t get more impressive leaders, we may need it
This promises to be the most absurd federal election since 2000, when Jean Chrétien was facing four opposition parties of somewhat equivalent strength , ensuring he could not possibly lose, in an election he called prematurely, to try to stifle the majority of his own party who were unimpressed with him. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau faces no such challenges, but rather is running against the precedent set by Lester Pearson in 1965, Bill Davis in Ontario in 1977 and David Peterson in Ontario in 1990, all of whom called elections prematurely. The apparent motive behind this election is to give the prime minister a blank cheque to impose a high tax, high spend, high deficit, green-obsessed, authoritarian left-wing course correction that flies in the face of practically all of Canadian history. He ran at the previous Conservative leadership convention in 2016 against Andrew Scheer and Maxime Bernier as more or less a red Tory, and ran against Peter MacKay in 2019 as a genuine conservative, but lost no time abandoning the social conservatives in his party and zigzagging back towards the left.
We now have five left-of-centre parties in the country and the Conservative message in most key areas is that they would do as the liberals have done, but would do it better. Liberals make better liberals than Conservatives do and the only way Conservatives have been able to win a solid victory federally since the last election of John A. It has only been six years since Trudeau defeated Harper, the Liberal leader has a rather pleasant personality and there is no evidence the country has altogether tired of him. The early polls show the Liberals leading by three to five points, which, if it holds, would not give them back their majority, though they would be the largest party and would be capable of continuing in government. On other occasions, the Liberals gained support from Western rural populists and Québec’s Créditistes .
On this occasion, there are a number of opportunities for the Conservatives. The Liberals have stumbled badly in the first week of the campaign, being incoherent on the horrible shambles in Afghanistan, and the only issue that they are attempting to push to the forefront is mandatory vaccinations for those in the public service. This is unusual for the Liberals who, whatever their shortcomings in government, have run a smooth, professional campaign in every federal election in living memory, except for their overconfidence in 1957, the problems with the Pierre Trudeau-John Turner transition in 1984 and Michael Ignatieff’s collapse, especially in Quebec, in 2011. If this pattern continues, and the Liberals continue to stumble, their support could erode quickly.
The very fact that the government could imagine that its pandemic record is one that justifies its re-election is both astonishing and discouraging. He has none of Trudeau’s glamour or contemporary chic, but he presents as having a fair amount of middle-Canadian common sense. As the parties are running fairly closely together, it is quite possible that O’Toole could prove a better debater and score heavily against Trudeau with an apt thrust or epigram, like Brian Mulroney’s «You had a choice, Mr. » In precise terms, the Liberal party appears to be vulnerable in its frivolous disregard of the colossal deficit, its proposals to raise taxes on gasoline, groceries and home heating, where the Conservatives propose targeted tax cuts and at least a formally declared intention of balancing the budget again within 10 years. The Conservatives could also gain from their advocacy of bringing back the transit tax credit, reversing this government’s stinginess with veterans and abandoning Trudeau’s extravagant and foolish prostration of this country at the feet of a great many disreputable regimes around the world.
Unfortunately, both parties have acquiesced in the government of Quebec’s proposed suffocation of the English language in that province. No one should be bracing for a scintillating campaign, but nor should the Liberals be quite so confident of getting their majority back.
Source: Conrad Black | NP Comment