Monday, March 25, 2024

A Contrary View

If the polls are to be believed, we are headed for a Conservative juggernaut. Susan Riley isn't so sure:

Lurking somewhere between despair and denial, you can spot tiny glimmers of hope for non-Conservative voters in this country—in what is, admittedly, an otherwise dire and discouraging political landscape. These glimmers may not shine brightly enough yet to stop the righteous armies of vengeance, the daily cavalcade of distortion and insult, the seemingly inevitable decline of a well-meaning—but flawed—prime minister, who has outstayed his welcome.

But, if everyone gives up, we may as well hand over the keys to Rideau Cottage immediately—and resign ourselves to accelerating climate chaos and increasing economic inequality. 

She cautions that we should look outside Ottawa:

The election of Wab Kinew, the first modern-day Indigenous premier of Manitoba, signals a welcome departure from the usual fed-prov scenario: premiers fighting Ottawa over every bland federal attempt at helping their citizens. In his first months, the new NDP premier has cheerfully accepted $664-million in federal money for health care, and also welcomed the recent federal mini-pharmacare plan.

And, while Kinew has not defended the federal carbon tax—and the controversial three-cent-per-litre hike coming next month—he has not trashed it, or the prime minister, like some of his provincial counterparts have. Instead, he has talked about devising a made-in-Manitoba climate plan, and, in the meantime—in the name of affordability—dropped the 14 cent provincial tax on gasoline and frozen electricity rates. 

There are promising rumbles coming from Atlantic Canada, too. New Brunswick Liberals have an energetic, articulate and bilingual new leader in Susan Holt, a mid-40s businesswoman from Fredericton. Since assuming the leadership last year, Holt has been travelling the province, meeting with health-care workers, new candidates and municipal officials—and posting her adventures on X. 

Her main focus is affordability, protecting the province’s bilingual status, and fixing the lamentably inadequate health care system. Like other provincial leaders, she is calling for a pause on the April 1 carbon tax hike; she also proposes cancelling a clean fuel tax and the provincial tax on electricity bills. While hardly the actions of a climate leader, Holt promises a New Brunswick environmental plan, and, unlike Premier Higgs, to date hasn’t joined Poilievre’s Axe the Tax rallies. (The truth is that most New Brunswick families now receive more than they pay on fuel taxes through the federal carbon tax rebate— a reality that prompted the province to drop its own tax and embrace the federal system last year.)

Meanwhile, Higgs, arguably the grumpiest of premiers, kick-started a specious campaign against trans kids last year, under the guise of protecting parental rights. While his position plays well to right-wing sentiment in the province, it provoked an open rebellion in his caucus and reportedly irritated pragmatic New Brunswickers more concerned with the cost of living that esoteric moral crusades.

According to one recent poll, Higgs’ Conservatives are now trailing the Liberals 34 to 40 per cent, and Holt is the preferred choice as premier among 31 per cent of those polled, compared to 25 per cent for Higgs. If those soundings hold until the October provincial election, Higgs could be off to involuntary retirement with the electoral map of eastern Canada changed once again.

And then there is Alberta:

Arguably, more impactful changes are looming in Alberta, with a competitive race to succeed retiring provincial NDP leader Rachel Notley. Along with four certifiably-sane former Notley cabinet ministers (all women), a prominent provincial labour leader and former Calgary mayor, Naheed Nenshi, have entered the race.

The fact that Nenshi, an avowed non-partisan as mayor, is joining the NDP makes him either an interloper and opportunist, or—for some progressive voters—evidence of the party’s potential to reach beyond its base and regain power. That said, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has proven to be a wily operator, a skilled communicator and an attentive servant of her right-wing rural base. Despite her widely unpopular campaign to quit the Canada Pension Plan, her push for a provincially-financed police force to replace the RCMP, and her apparent hostility to clean tech investors, her UPC party continues to lead the NDP by around 7 points in most polls.

According to early intelligence, Nenshi, more than the other candidates, could challenge that lead. Under his leadership, the NDP would likely become an even more pragmatic, centrist party, that could sever ties with the unpopular federal NDP—or leave it to party members to join one, or both, branches of the party. A Nenshi victory could also open the door to genuine federal-provincial co-operation on climate change, instead of serving—as Smith’s government does—as an unpaid cheerleader for the booming fossil fuel sector. 

We'll see what the future holds.

Image: Psychology Today


Graham said...

Hey! Good article with some good news and a positive slant on the political happenings. Thanks, I needed that.
Canada is full of good people who are willing to do the work needed to move us forward and to lead into an uncertain future.
With the many changes on the horizon and many more unknowns regarding the climate change effects, population growth, the economy, housing, healthcare, education, resources and jobs and technology, we really just need good calm leadership and thoughtful pragmatic leaders. The reform party as lead by pp is not the party to do that for us. Unfortunately we may have to go through a federal election or two before we figure that out, again.
It’s good to know that we have some people that can take the reins and confidently guide us forward when we get over this latest bit of silliness.

Cap said...

Trudeau doesn't have to call an election for another year and a half. Seems premature to be speculating about election outcomes when Canadians are just starting to warm up to PP's DeSantis-like charms.

Owen Gray said...

We're not without talented people, Graham. The trick is being able to harness their talents.

Owen Gray said...

The next election is a long way away, Cap. And, in our time, things can change very quickly.

Trailblazer said...

To those of a Progressive left or centre left persuasion..
You had your chance and you blew it.
You gave in to the non issue faction, gender issues and such, just as badly as those on the ultra right gave into the christo nationalists!
Is there none in our political establishment that is either pragmatic , honest or can just say no to the sensationalism , emotionalism and Tweetism! that rules our lives?
Our age will not be remembered as the Anthropocene , but the age of bullshit and denial.


Owen Gray said...

We keep piling it higher and deeper, TB.

Northern PoV said...

"the NDP would likely become an even more pragmatic, centrist party"

Aye, there's the rub!

For what shall it profit a party, if they shall gain the whole world, and lose its own soul?

Alas, what a piece of work is (hu)man?

jrkrideau said...

Along with regular, feisty postings on X from cabinet ministers and MPs, the party is finally releasing ads targeting Pierre Poilievre’s constant and repeated lies about government policy and intentions. 

I think this is a key point. I've long thought that Pierre is wide open to attack ads from the other parties. I've actually been surprised that the Liberals have not try something earlier but I suppose tactically it makes sense not to start using all the terrible material we have against Piere until we are to be close to the election.

A few shots of Pierre offering coffee to members of the trucker convoy and recommending that Canada go full tilt into Bitcoin should do wonders for his support. I suspect that the better voters get to know Pierre before they will dislike him.

Owen Gray said...

As a species, PoV, we're not particularly noted for our wisdom.

Owen Gray said...

I've long suspected, jrk, that Poilievre is his own worst enemy.

MikeG said...

Perhaps we need a different way to look at government:

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Mike that:"Issues should be addressed from a viewpoint of fact and evidence, not ideology and inflammatory rhetoric. We need to engage the voters directly on significant issues; we have the technology to do it."

But that's not as easy as it sounds.