Appeared in the North Shore News – October 23, 2015
I have been standing back admiring the brilliance of my prediction that the Conservatives would win Monday’s election.
The logic was impeccable, though not unique — just more genially expressed. It follows.
Liberal Justin Trudeau and especially New Democrat Thomas Mulcair were as zealous campaigning to one-up each other as they were to bury the common foe, Stephen Harper, who you will remember was Conservative prime minister (how quickly the political history books open and coldly snap shut).
While they exhausted themselves clawing and mauling one another over which was the more worthy regicide, King Harper would soar through the blue skies in a coach drawn by two noble steeds, reduced from the usual four for the economy’s sake, back to his well-deserved throne.
This theory was rooted in samplings of popular support showing Mulcair as front-runner before the formal campaign began — the heady prospect of the first Sussex Drive socialist — and Trudeau the Younger a lame third. But incrementally Trudeau got back his legs. He strode up mountains real and metaphorical, a chip off the paternal block, at least for the Liberal spinmeisters’ ads. He found his tongue too. He acquitted himself well, possibly better than he dared hope as bearer of the profound burden of having a word-skilled father.
And in the last dozen days or so, a Trudeau dynasty emerged. Mulcair was the big loser, partly due to so-called strategic voting. Trudeau sold the product.
For what is a democratic election all about if not politicians selling themselves in a milieu where faking sincerity is a prime requirement, where actors play not their own fallible, privately frightened selves, but someone more confident, astute, wise and caring, to an anxiety-ridden audience yearning for leader authenticity and gullible enough to believe in words—– which, as the Greek said, have horns and forked tails?
So if my theory of Conservative victory was wrong, as it lugubriously was, clearly Mulcair and Trudeau were spooked by a nightmare variant of it too — that a Liberal resurgence could lead to their virtual second-place tie. Harper, his crown slightly askew, would then resume a brand of governance that they hated and feared, being largely successful in substance and unfashionable in style.
Of course by any global terms most Canadians are so incredibly spoiled that, as my old mother would say, they don’t know they’re alive. And it will be fascinating to see how Trudeau handles his vow to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees; the nation’s military commitments; the inevitable terrorist attacks on our soil; and the citizens’ equally inevitable demands for business to create more prosperity, more social services in a shaky global economy. Such are among Harper’s bequests to him. A poisoned chalice?
In the interests of all Canadians, including petty self-interest, I certainly wish Trudeau well. He will need no lessons in Canadian history about the long slope down from the deliriums of election night to the disappointments and fractiousness of actually governing: Making choices, shifting money from pickable pockets to favoured ones — the top priority for skilful governing.
How Brian Mulroney was viscerally hated as prime minister by many, and how wonderfully Mulroney spoke Monday night: Gracious, witty, philosophical, good-natured, self-mocking. Only a consummate actor could pull that off.
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A fast-off-the-mark reader emailed me: “I hate to tell you how far off you were on your prediction.” My reply: “Thank you for this. Many will not ‘hate’ to tell me — they will enjoy it immensely.”
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This may not be a bad opportunity — how many remain? — to muse about columnists and such making election predictions. Flatly, I’d rather be wrong than timorous. Afraid of flying and crashing? Get out of it. My newspaper roots go back to meatier times when columnists were expected to shoot their mouths off. Yes, and argue rudely with one other, sometimes across the page.
The judicious thumb-sucker doesn’t engage me.
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As for the two-and-a-half North Shore ridings — red from end to end to end — I asked the mayors for their election reaction.
West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith: “I look forward to working with our new member of Parliament, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, as she understands the issues facing local governments around getting adequate funding for infrastructure. She also knows the unique challenges we face in West Vancouver and I’m sure she will serve our community well.”
District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton praised previous MPs, especially citing “Don Bell (Liberal) and Andrew Saxton (Conservative). … Jonathan Wilkinson has good role models as predecessors, and we have every belief he will serve well. … Saxton was a class act in his appearance at the Liberal victory celebration, offering strong support for Wilkinson in the transition.”
No criticism of North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto — long an open New Democrat — for not responding on very short notice before my deadline.
© Trevor Lautens, 2015