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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Electoral nose plugs

BY Lyle Stewart Sep 12, 2019

By the time this issue lands in the hands of readers, we may already be in the midst of a federal election campaign, with the vote to be held October 21. This time around, unfortunately, the choice will be between the bad, the worse and the unrealistic.

In office, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has amply revealed that the stirring, progressive rhetoric that got him elected four years ago is empty, if not downright dishonest. In office, he has continued to say one thing while doing the exact opposite. Trudeau’s policy program is a straight continuation of the grim, far-right Harper government that preceded him, despite the pretty words about sunny days.

For the climate change file, Trudeau spent $4.5 billion to buy an uneconomic pipeline project to better export dirty oil from Alberta’s tar sands. This one project alone blows up any hope of meeting his government’s climate-change targets under the 2016 Paris Accord.

The SNC-Lavalin scandal demonstrated that his government is verging on criminal as Trudeau was personally found guilty by the federal Ethics Commissioner of violating the Conflict of Interest Act. By pressuring his former Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould to give the thoroughly corrupt Quebec engineering corporation SNC-Lavalin a pass on bribery charges, he showed that this version of the Liberal Party is just as dirty as it ever was.

Finally, for First Nations, the hypocrisy of Justin Trudeau is glaring. With tears in his eyes, he promised a new day in the relationship with Indigenous peoples. Well, today looks pretty much as it always has. His government is still spending millions to fight against its legal responsibility to treat children in First Nations communities the same as kids elsewhere – i.e., by providing the same level of services in health and education. All the while, children continue to be abducted from Indigenous communities because of poverty-related issues.

Meanwhile, the death of MP Romeo Saganash’s private member’s bill to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was predictable as it was tragic. Knowing they were looking bad on the file, the Liberals pretended to back the bill, then helped stall its progress through Parliament until it died on the order paper as this session ended before this fall’s election.

This time, do not believe a single word that comes out of Justin Trudeau’s mouth.

Speaking of Romeo Saganash and the New Democratic Party, his decision to retire from politics is part of a trend. Many sitting NDP MPs in Quebec have chosen not to run again, largely because they see the writing on the wall. After its historic breakthrough in 2011 with the late Jack Layton and a respectable showing in 2015 under Tom Mulcair, the party is poised to be wiped out in Quebec.

That’s because a far-left fringe of the NDP managed to get rid of its only hope for winning an election in deposing Mulcair as leader in a 2016 party convention. He was replaced by Jagmeet Singh, a likeable fellow, but who is a raw rookie compared to his predecessor. Organizational blunders have abounded, and confidence in Singh’s abilities – never high to begin with – has evaporated.

Tellingly, the party’s plunge in popularity in Quebec under the turban-wearing Singh comes at a time when the province has implemented a racist ban on religious symbols on public officials – with wide public support. That is to be lamented, but it certainly has had an impact on the only option aside from the Liberals.

I won’t waste much time on Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party, and neither should you. He would take us back to the dark ages. And with the polls showing the Tories in a tie with the Liberals, there’s a very good chance we could be on our way there after October 21.

Good luck making a choice this fall. Most of us will be holding our noses as we mark our ballots.

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Lyle Stewart has been working as a journalist for over 30 years. He believes that information is the ultimate check on the abuse of power and that independent media outlets such as the Nation are crucial to democratic governance.