Frankly, I wish Justin Trudeau had found a better use for our $610 million.
Because that’s what Elections Canada is projecting it cost to inflict the 36-day campaign and federal election upon Canadians.
Trudeau, the prime minister, reportedly called the vote in mid-August because he wanted us to weigh in on who, as in which political party, should finish the fight against COVID-19 and lead the nation into the post-pandemic recovery.
That’s not the whole reason, however.
Trudeau and the Liberals were given a minority government in the 2019 election after ruling with a majority from 2015 until then.
Political parties don’t like minority governments, no matter what they say publicly. Minorities mean getting along with the other parties, including their ideas in your legislation and, generally, compromising on policy with ideological opposites, or so they pretend to be.
Majorities are far better. The federal government can pretty much do what it wants because, when it comes time to vote in the House of Commons, they have the majority.
The opposition can scream until they are blue or orange or green in the face, but, in the end, it won’t matter.
Trudeau wanted that Liberal majority government this time and it’s a big reason he dragged Canadians back to the polls.
He can talk all he likes about needing a fresh mandate from the people.
Hand me a shovel for that argument.
But as the song goes, you can’t always get what you want and Trudeau didn’t get what he wanted.
In fact, he got almost exactly what he already had.
At last count, Elections Canada says the Liberals won 159 seats on Sept. 20, or two more than two years ago. The Conservatives followed with 119 seats, or two fewer, the Bloc Quebecois won 33 or one more, the New Democratic Party 25 or one more and the Greens two, or one less. In other words another minority government.
Was that worth $610 million? I think not.
Do you want to hear the arguments about better uses for that $610 million than an inconsequential Canadian election, because I can make them?
How about more money for health-care professionals? As we are still in a pandemic, they could all use a raise and deserve one.
How about more money for retirement and long-term care homes? Then they can afford to be properly staffed so we don’t have more tragedy for our vulnerable seniors.
How about more money so school boards can hire more teachers? Then classrooms won’t have 20 kids and COVID’s spread will be less.
Should I go on? No need to, really.
The question Canadians should be asking themselves is if the PM put his — and the Liberals’ — political ambitions ahead of the nation’s best interests by calling this election instead of working 24/7 for another two years, when the election was scheduled to be held to rid us of the plague that has consumed us since March 2020.
Trudeau would tell you, I’m sure, that he is working 24/7 to rid Canada of the pandemic. I’m sure he believes that.
But it’s a tough argument to make when you’re spending more than a month on the campaign trail telling all who will listen about the shortcomings of your political opposition and why Liberal is the way to vote.
The other political parties didn’t come out of this election smelling any better.
Conservatives told Canadians the election was a success because the Liberals were denied a majority again.
Like coming in second counts as a victory.
Or that Conservatives candidates got 33.7 per cent of the vote, compared to the Liberals’ 32.6 per cent. Who cares.
The NDP continues to spin its wheels nationally, and the Greens are so disorganized they couldn’t even field candidates in either of Barrie’s ridings.
The less said about the Bloc, the better.
Oh, and the People’s Party of Canada got five per cent of the vote, compared to 1.6 per cent of the vote last election. But won zero seats.
At least the other parties aren’t responsible for calling this unneeded, generally unwanted election which took $610 million out of the pockets of Canadians.
We understand that our governments are going to waste some of our money; it’s not theirs so they don’t take good care of it.
But there’s no excuse for this careless spending of $610 million, sending us to the polls in a global health emergency — when Trudeau already had the only mandate he was going to get from Canadians.
Bob Bruton is a BarrieToday staff reporter.