Yesterday, Andrew Scheer resigned as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. There are, Susan Delacourt writes, interesting parallels between the fortunes of Scheer and Joe Clark:
The Joe Clark parallels have come up a lot in Scheer’s relatively short reign as Conservative leader. A largely unknown politician from the West, an unlikely competitor against a charismatic Trudeau, this very newspaper marked Scheer’s 2017 leadership victory with the headline “Andrew Who?,” just as it gave Clark the “Joe Who” nickname that endured throughout his ill-fated years as leader.
Scheer didn’t even get the short run as prime minister that Clark did, but he came tantalizingly close, and politics can be even more unforgiving for leaders who almost make it. Scheer was probably never going to be allowed to get past his inability to defeat Justin Trudeau in this year’s election, just as Clark was never quite forgiven for letting the power slip from his hands on a cold December night in 1979.
The defeat of Clark's government brought Pierre Trudeau back into the game -- and lots of things happened:
When Clark’s minority government fell, Pierre Trudeau was lured out of retirement and romped back to power in 1980 for a final, four-year mandate that put his indelible stamp on Canadian history — notably a new Constitution and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Without that final four years in power, it’s been argued, Trudeau’s legacy would have been more of the footnote variety — a prime minister who blazed briefly, if meteorically, across the 1970s with a handful of small achievements and checkered controversies to his credit.
Justin Trudeau is not his father. But Scheer's resignation means that the Conservatives will be busy remaking themselves. And Trudeau the Younger may have the opportunity to do big things:
Justin Trudeau and his Liberals would be totally fine with having another four years in power, perhaps to do some nation-changing kind of things that happened in the early 1980s — new national programs (pharmacare, for instance?) or, if they’re really ambitious, a national-unity adventure like the constitutional saga of Pierre Trudeau’s last mandate. (Though presumably Justin Trudeau doesn’t want to replicate some of the disunity that also arose from those years, notably in Quebec and the West.)
History, Mark Twain wrote, doesn't repeat itself. But sometimes it rhymes.
Image: The Toronto Star