The federal election was a teachable moment. And, if our leaders are wise, they'll understand that they have all been served a heaping helping of humble pie. Susan Delacourt writes:
Two weeks after the votes were counted, the point of the 2019 election is finally coming into focus: it was ultimately a humbling exercise for Canada’s political leaders.
In just one week, three of the major party leaders have been forced to reckon with humility at their first post-election caucus meetings in Ottawa.
The Greens’ Elizabeth May self-administered her own dose of humility, stepping down as leader on Monday. A chastened Justin Trudeau met his diminished Liberal ranks on Thursday, talking about the “gratitude” he would be extending to the nearly 30 former MPs who went down to defeat on Oct. 21.
As for Andrew Scheer, his humbling remains a work in progress. The Conservative leader was still talking in triumphal terms after he met his new caucus of opposition MPs on Wednesday, but a looming leadership review in April means that Scheer will be taken down a few pegs the slow way over the next five months.
Even New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh, who was judged to have had a good election, has been forced to acknowledge that all his campaign efforts still resulted in a sizable net loss for the NDP — from 39 MPs going into the election to just 24 now.
It's called "tall poppy syndrome:"
Canadians have their own fondness for knocking high-reachers down to size. It’s said that the legendary author Robertson Davies liked to recount what he heard at a 1957 social gathering when the news broke that future prime minister Lester Pearson had won the Nobel Peace Prize: “Who does he think he is?”
Individual MP's seem to have gotten the message:
Francois-Philippe Champagne, the infrastructure minister who was one of the lucky Liberal MPs to hold onto his Quebec seat, told reporters that he had certainly taken this “message of humility” from the 2019 campaign. "We're not here boasting. We're here humble,” Champagne said as he went into Thursday’s Liberal gathering.
There were many poignant scenes of defeat around Parliament Hill this week. The Conservatives’ former deputy leader Lisa Raitt, who lost her seat in Milton, Ont., was talking about packing up her boxes and the unemployed staff members in her midst.
Former Liberal MP Kim Rudd, who fought hard but lost her seat in Northumberland-Peterborough South, came to town to empty her office and apartment, and talked of her sadness in seeing Canadian flags disappear from offices that have been handed over to a new crop of Bloc Québécois MPs.
Winnipeg MP Jim Carr, who still holds the job of trade diversification minister in Trudeau’s cabinet, showed up on Thursday despite his recent diagnosis. He was in a reflective mood, talking of perspective both political and personal.
“I’m feeling fine, thank you,” Carr said, clutching a daisy handed to him by cabinet colleague Maryam Monsef while he talked to reporters. “I’m just in my life now, going through a moment where I think it’s bringing out that yearning for unity and for civility in politics.”
They say humility is good for the soul. At this point in our history, it would also be good for the country.