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The most recent episode of Canada’s made-for-TV pantomime | Elections 2018

Canadian federal elections are a drained, orchestrated pantomime.

That pantomime was on routine show over the previous a number of weeks, culminating in final night time‘s anticipated election of Justin Trudeau for a second, four-year time period.

Canada’s two principal events – Liberal and Conservative – have all the time defended the identical sliver of monied pursuits they usually all the time will.

Their so-called “major policy differences” are a fantasy. On the 2, defining problems with our time – revenue inequality and local weather change – the variations between Liberals and Conservatives happen solely on the rhetorical margins.

This isn’t a radical concept, though it will likely be dismissed as such. My goodness, it has even discovered a voice in some faint quarters of the mainstream media the place one political columnist just lately wrote, moderately clumsily, that “there are actual variations between the key events. However these variations are usually not as stark because the events would have you ever suppose”. 


Nonetheless, as all the time, the company media have largely performed together with the “choice” charade as a result of that’s their operate – to faux that selection exists when it basically doesn’t and by no means has. They’re loath to acknowledge it. As a substitute, they cling to the notion that their job is to problem the established order, moderately than be couriers for it. It’s a comforting delusion.

Thought-about on this context, that Trudeau was capable of preserve his job as prime minister – main a minority, not a majority authorities – will in the end have a scant influence for the hundreds of thousands of “ordinary” Canadians who’re $200 away from insolvency or who proceed to stay in persistent, precarious poverty. 

Poor Canadians have been, as all the time, invisible. This was plain all through a marketing campaign that was, but once more, dominated by ephemeral scandals and the buying and selling of petty, ephemeral insults, with the megaphone duly supplied by a company press infatuated with ephemeral scandals and insults. 

Bereft of massive, transformative concepts to change radically the connection between authorities and the overwhelming majority of Canadians, federal politics in Canada has lengthy been diminished to a parlour “game” the place manufactured battle and competing personalities – striving for that usually elusive high quality of “authenticity” – are packaged and bought.

Trudeau, like his father earlier than him, is the Liberal Get together. He embodies the get together’s basically vapid, unserious nature. The get together stands for nothing, exterior its perennial quest for energy in an effort to safeguard the highly effective. The SNC-Lavalin affair that noticed Trudeau remodel the federal government of Canada into, in impact, the subsidiary of an engineering firm is blatant proof of the Liberal Get together’s overarching raison d’etre.

So, this time, Trudeau and his handlers needed to hawk the caricature of a younger, “progressive” politician with barely completely different colored wrapping paper since he not had a Borg-like prime minister to behave as his foil.

Trudeau claimed, unconvincingly, that the election was not a referendum about him, however the welfare of Canada and Canadians. (I wish to suppose that, to my thoughts, Trudeau’s disqualifying historical past of donning blackface performed some function in denying him one other prized majority.) In any occasion, it was commonplace political gruel that translated into commonplace, political pledges.

Trudeau promised to tinker with the tax code and social welfare programmes to place extra money in Canadians’ “pocketbooks”. In the meantime, the fraction of the one % of Canadians who control a lot of the nation’s wealth – a lot of whom spirit their riches away in offshore, tax-free financial institution accounts – have been reassured {that a} Liberal authorities would do nothing to alter that completely happy equation.       

As for the existential menace posed by climate change, Trudeau provided up the standard bromides that he was a champion of the environment. Keep in mind, Trudeau’s concept of addressing the probably irreversible harm attributable to unrelenting, man-made CO2 emissions was to nationalise a fossil-fuel pipeline. A lot for the “champion of the environment” drivel.

Sadly, it labored – though Trudeau, the progressive caricature, proved considerably much less engaging to Canadians than in 2015 when the nation was aching to rid itself of Stephen Harper.


Conservative chief, Andrew Scheer, constructed his marketing campaign round the concept that he was the antithesis of Trudeau – a plain, uninspiring bureaucrat with monochromatic socks who would handle a fancy nation like a small enterprise. Seems, his gross sales pitch that Conservatives, not like Trudeau, would let Canadians preserve somewhat extra of their cash fell, like his persona, flat in too many seat-rich components of the nation. (Conservatives seem to have bested Liberals, nonetheless, within the popular vote.)    

Arguably, the Conservative Get together has not had an authentic concept since Confederation in 1867. It’s a get together devoid of goal and path that makes overt appeals to Canada’s far right, notably on immigration and “free speech”, to attempt to cobble collectively a retrograde coalition as a path to the prime minister’s workplace.     

Canada’s smaller events, the nationalist Bloc Quebecois, the social-democrat NDP and the Greens, will maintain, collectively, the balance of power in a minority Parliament. 

If history is any information, Trudeau’s new authorities will likely be short-lived. Liberals are congenitally averse to sharing the reigns with outsiders. Because the “chosen ones” Liberals is not going to let parliamentary minions deny them what’s rightly theirs – energy. 

Which means, I think, the Liberals will both provoke the opposition into tabling a no-confidence movement or name a snap election when the time and temper match and take their possibilities at securing a majority.

Then, Canadians will play their half in one other made-for-TV pantomime.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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