In holding her Vancouver-Granville seat in Monday’s federal election, Jody Wilson-Reybould proved you can, if your cause is just, “talk truth to power” and win.
“The people are always right” was a mantra of a former Canadian prime minister, John Turner. They were right when his Liberals lost the great trade battle of 1988, and they were right this week when they returned Justin Trudeau to power, albeit with a minority government.
Canadians voted as they did because they saw no viable alternative to Justin Trudeau, despite some serious policy failures and a slew of personal gaffes — dressing up in blackface, donning native costume in India, and firing Wilson-Reybould, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who insisted on doing her duty in prosecuting SNC-Lavalin, after it was caught afoul of anti-corruption laws.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer lacked both the force of personality and the clarity of policy to challenge Trudeau. His spunkiest speech of the campaign came in defeat Monday night, promising the Conservatives would be ready, and would win, when the government falls. More than anything, it was Sheer’s strident attacks on the Liberal carbon tax that left his party, absent a meaningful climate change policy, blowing in the wind.
Jagmeet Singh struggled valiantly to hold an NDP bastion in the House of Commons but his ethnicity, — although few will admit this — and his honest criticism of Quebec’s secularism law, cost the party half of its seats. There’ll never be another Orange wave in Quebec. The Bloc Quebecois, back with more than 30 seats, remains the blunt tool of Quebec voters, a handy cudgel to beat more concessions from the federal government.
Now Justin Trudeau, short 14 seats of a majority but with by far the largest number of MPS — 156 at election night count compared to 122 Conservatives, has a clear field to push ahead with the Trans-Mountain pipeline, national pharmacare, increases to old age pensions, and over the next four years, raises in the “price on pollution,” — the carbon tax.
Trudeau need not rely on any one of the Opposition parties to win passage of his legislation, whether it be more deficit budgets or costly new programs that woo the left and infuriate the right, The Conservatives will support him on Trans-Mountain. The ND P, Greens and the Bloc will back his carbon tax strategy, and whatever plan he brings forward on pharmacare.
Proportional representation to dump the first past the post system? Not a chance. Trudeau won’t offer it, and the the three Opposition parties that would benefit from it have no leverage to bring it about.
Andrew Scheer made a brave speech in conceding defeat on election night. The party, if it is ever to seriously challenge the Liberals, has to break out of its narrow base of just one-third of the electorate. Without policies to win support from more than one in three voters, and as long as it remains blind to the urgency of climate change, Conservatives are doomed to languish on the Opposition benches for a long time to come.
Re-elected as an Independent in Vancouver Granville, Wilson-Reybould’s future depends on whether she takes up the leadership of the Green Party. She can have it for the asking. Elizabeth May, tired after four federal elections, has wanted Jody as her successor ever since Reybould-Wilson stepped down from cabinet. May would like to set aside the leadership burden, but before now there’s been no one qualified to take it on. Now there is.
As an Independent MP in Ottawa, Jody will have a lonely time. No colleagues, no research resources, no influence on the government. If she instead takes up the cause of the Greens, she’ll have three other MPs supporting her and the knowledge that more than a million Canadians — double the previous high — voted Green in 2019. She would add to the environmental mission of the Greens the courage of a woman of proven talent, together a powerful combination for electoral success.
Add to this mix the emerging climate change majority among Canadians under 45, and the clout of a mobilized Indigenous vote. Together, they’d represent a powerful new force in Canadian politics.. Bring on the election!