By Farah Refaey, October 25 2019—
It could’ve been better. But it also could’ve been worse.
For far too long, Canada has been largely bipartisan. We have never had a government that was anything but Liberal or Conservative. For far too long, we’ve been swinging from one party to the other in an attempt to find the lesser evil. We’ve been voting strategically, which is to say voting out of fear. I had hope for change this election, and I thought it would come in the form of the New Democratic Party holding at least the Official Opposition.
That said, I think a minority government is the most realistically-positive outcome we could have hoped for. I had hoped it would be a minority government that brought the Liberal government forward with the help of the New Democratic Party, as opposed to one that will hold them back even further, which I believe is what we have received. The Liberal party and the Conservative party have a famous, historic rivalry but the reality is much more dynamic. Contrary to what they will present during debates and public appearances, their platforms are really not that different. This is evident through one of the biggest election issues this year, climate change. The Liberal party’s carbon emission reduction goal is “greater than” 30 per cent, a goal first established by Stephen Harper in 2015. To have the same environmental goals as the government that the Liberals had so publicly opposed is embarrassing. The Liberal Party and the Conservative Party are two sides of the same coin. They pretend to be on opposite ends of every issue but at the end of the day, they have the same foundations — keeping the rich happy and still rich, prioritizing profit over the planet and doing the minimum to keep vulnerable and Indigenous communities complacent without actually listening to any of their concerns or needs. The Liberal Party attempts to capitalize on its centrism by appealing to both sides, but ends up standing for absolutely nothing. That is why having the Conservatives as the Official Opposition will be no opposition at all — it will be a gentle nudge towards the right for a party who lives on the edge of any meaningful policy.
Really, what was the election question this year? Could you pinpoint a main campaign promise from the Liberals or the Conservatives? The Liberals ran on the basis of “Do you really want a conservative government again? Remember what they did?” And the Conservatives did the same from the other end, “You don’t want another four years of Liberal government. Remember what they did? Elect me and I’ll fix the damage that was done in the last term.” It could have been worse. We could have elected a Prime Minister who has, in the past, been critical of same-sex marriage and refused to march in Pride parades. He also holds personal pro-life views despite saying he will not reopen the abortion debate. Instead, we get to have him as the leader of the Official Opposition.
Climate change is arguably the most pressing issue in this election. Provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan bring in the majority of Canada’s wealth, and they do that through oil and gas. Those provinces rely on pipelines and therefore contribute largely to Canada’s carbon emissions. But that does not mean that people in Alberta and Saskatchewan are not environmentally-conscious or aware of the impact that their careers have. It doesn’t mean that they are not afraid. It means that they have to balance fear of job insecurity with the fear of the effects of climate change. Canada should stop building pipelines, but not without programs in place to transition oil and gas jobs into renewable energy projects, not without incentives for people to change their whole lives. While carbon taxes are controversial and widely-discussed, they really don’t do much to reduce our footprint. We need big change — we need to transition our entire country away from fossil fuel dependency and invest in renewable energy sources and we need to do it quickly. Unfortunately, the only candidate who had plans for such transitions was Elizabeth May. No other candidate did the environmental research required to know that proposals need to be much more long-term. Reducing plastics sounds great on paper, Trudeau, but in reality the effects are incomparable to those of fossil fuels, or even your steak dinners.
Indigenous communities bear the brunt of climate change, and it does not seem like their concerns will be addressed for at least four more years. Trudeau’s insensitivity to these issues seems almost comical when you consider the effects climate change has had on the lives of Indigenous people. You don’t have clean water supply? The wildlife you have depended on for years and years is contaminated? Let’s get rid of plastic grocery bags by 2030.
Again, anything is better than a Conservative majority. At least Trudeau attempts to make it look like he is progressive. With the NDP, Bloc Québécois (who would’ve thought) and even Greens holding a solid combined number of seats, I have hope. At least this time, the Liberals do not have power over the whole house. At least we have more representation of other parties. But we should not have had to settle for that. Only 66 per cent of eligible Canadians cast a ballot this Monday. We deserve candidates that will get more than two-thirds of the population excited about the policies that will shape their future. We deserve better than having to choose the lesser evil. We deserve candidates that give us hope for the future, instead of instilling fear of it. We deserve better.