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The Case for Erin O'Toole?
Well I'll be damned. He's not so boring...
I sincerely thought this election cycle would be lackluster and forgettable. No one would pay it any attention and the results would be the same: another Liberal minority. And that may still be the result. But getting there has been fun so far. We're only into week 2 and I'm loving what I'm seeing. Monetary policy was an issue in week 1, and Trudeau gaffed by saying he doesn't think about it. Then his Minister of Finance put out a video on Twitter that the social media giant flagged as “manipulated media” since Erin O'Toole was taken out of context. The video implied he was for private health care exclusively. In the full context of his speech, he states how universal health care is essential, then goes onto highlight the benefits of more private involvement. But the Liberals cut out the first part and Twitter shook their fact-checking finger at them.
But the most exciting news, of course, is the polls. The Conservatives are closing the gap between them and the Liberals. Among young people and people for whom the economy is issue #1, Erin O'Toole (who is younger than Justin but seems far older) is the front runner. Secretly, I was hoping for this. I don't particularly care for politics beyond a mere spectator sport. I'd be happy enough with a benevolent dictator provided he didn't censor speech, undermine the rules of law or try to eliminate the market. So with that said, let's have a Prime Minister O'Toole. And while I'm particularly harsh on “red tory” Conservatives, my hatred for Justin Trudeau is so deep that I now have to make the case for O'Toole.
And it'll be easy to do so.
First: he was born in Montreal. There's a bonus right there. Quebec might vote for him. He's certainly leaning on the provincial autonomy side of things, which pleases both Quebec and Alberta. And it's a stark contrast to the type of federalism that Justin (and his father) have always championed. I think O'Toole put it best when he said, “I think Ottawa needs to be a partner, not a paternalistic Ottawa-knows-best player.” Throughout the campaign, I've heard O'Toole speak of “provinces” rather than trying to speak for all Canadians. After all, the Prime Minister is not speaking for all Canadians, technically, the entirety of Parliament is doing that. But Justin Trudeau seems ignorant of this feature of our Westminster system. Justin speaks as if he's the leader of the people, as a populist dictator in a South American country would. O'Toole on the other hand speaks about what Ottawa can do to help provinces so provincial leaders can determine what is best for their people. Y'know, federalism. How the country is supposed to operate.
The case for O'Toole is easy to make when Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government are providing the ammunition. They keep harping on about abortion and health care – Erin O'Toole's “hidden agenda” -- but the smears aren't sticking. No sensible Canadian believes the Conservatives – especially under O'Toole – are going to ban abortions. And no one seems to be buying Justin's fear-mongering that a vote for O'Toole is a vote to end Canada's universal health care system. O'Toole is just open to a two-tier system. A very reasonable position. Canada already has private clinics. And there's no reason to fear them. Virtually every European country has a two-tier system and they don't have poor people waiting in crumbling infrastructure unable to see a nurse or doctor because they're all down the road practicing at the private clinic. As well – do you really think an injured NHL player is waiting in line at your local hospital? You can bet your ass he's seeing a private specialist. In fact, any wealthy Canadian (and this happens far more than you think) can get better and faster treatment south of the border. While Canadians gloat about how superior our system is to the United States, the fact is we lag behind the rest of the developed world in that we put so much money into the system compared to places like Britain (where we first got the idea of government-provided health insurance).
And it's only going to get worse. Boomers are aging and there's a shit ton of them. We've already seen how they react to new flu viruses. And if the Liberals continue to bring in more immigrants based on uniting families rather than focusing on skill-sets, that means a new shit load of elderly people our taxes have to provide for. And this won't be good for immigrant relations. Despite the taboo subject matter, despite warnings of “soft” racism or white supremacist dog whistles (I thought only dogs could hear dog whistles?), the fact is, it is completely reasonable to balk at newly arrived elderly immigrants receiving some of the best care in the world despite hardly ever paying into the system. Of course, you can make a case for either side, and that's the whole point of a liberal democracy, right? Free speech and debate? Far too many people these days are willing to label information they disagree with as “misinformation.” “Listen to the experts” has become a euphemism for “trust the system.” As if the experts themselves aren't individuals with their own political and social biases...
Anyway, I'm getting off-topic here. What was I writing about? Erin O'Toole? If he can position himself in the political centre, the Conservatives might win. Trudeau is so far left that even left-leaning boomers are feeling uneasy. A lot of young people are still pissed at his broken promise of electoral reform. So they're going NDP or, like me, sympathetic to the Conservatives. And the best thing Justin Trudeau can do is claim that the NDP will split the vote and give O'Toole the reigns of government. It will smack of snobbery, that the Liberal Party is destined to lead and a vote for the NDP is a throwaway. Fuck voting your conscience, vote for Justin because he has a fundamental right to the PMO. I say it's the best thing Justin could do because I hate him and I want him to lose. He could have held onto his minority government for another year or two, then, just perhaps, win back his majority. But instead, he called a snap election in the middle of a pandemic with house prices going through the roof and inflation at 4%. This guy had six years to bring house prices down, to prepare us for the inevitable pandemic, to stop the erosion of our purchasing power — but instead he botched the vaccine delivery, did virtually nothing to bring down real estate prices, and far from preserving the value of the currency, he openly admitted he doesn’t think about monetary policy. Oh, and did I mention that public union leaders are upset with him over the policy that all federal employees will have to take the COVID vaccine? You couldn't ask for a better campaign.
Oh, right. Yes you can. Word is Justin has been asking his MPs for big “wow” ideas for the campaign. Funny, you'd think the guy who called a snap election would have had something ready to go. But I suppose he suspected his support to remain high. I guess he expected – as did I – no real momentum behind the campaign. Too many Canadians would be wary of an election and wouldn't care. That O'Toole would be too bland and unappealing. But to everyone's surprise, O'Toole is killing it. When reporters ask him questions he's not dancing around platitudes, giving yes answers from one side of his mouth and no from the other. No, Erin O'Toole is actually answering straightforward questions with straightforward answers. No word yet if he'll continue this practice as Prime Minister, and I have no reason to believe he would, but as the top contender for the job, it's nice to see him speak directly while the drama teacher continues his signature style of speaking without really saying anything at all.
What else? Oh, right. The GST holiday. If the Conservatives win, for the month of December the government won't be collecting GST from Canadians. I'm reminded of the temporary income tax. Brought in to help pay for World War 1. Prior to this, a tax on income was morally repulsive. Taxing one's income was no better than slavery. Indeed, it is slavery once removed. But the War was too important, so said the experts of the time, and alas, once given the power to tax income, the tax never went away. This usually doesn't happen in the reverse direction, but one can dream. A GST tax holiday in December is extended to January, then February, then March, then April... Like “two weeks to flatten the curve” which now means the government can arbitrarily shut down your business under the guise of public health and safety. Give 'em an inch, they take a mile. If it works in the other direction, maybe the GST will become a thing of the past.
Meanwhile, a Liberal minister has called the Taliban her “brothers” while an overwhelming majority of Canadians are appalled that Justin's Liberals are leaving Canadian allies in Afghanistan to fend for themselves. Justin is clearly too busy trying to win a majority to worry about a 20-year conflict halfway across the world. It certainly wasn’t ideal optics when the Taliban took Afghanistan the same weekend Justin called an unnecessary election.
Anyway, Erin O'Toole is the first Conservative to come out in favour of safe injection sites. The Conservative housing strategy has met praise from a former NDP economic adviser. Even former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair is impressed with O’Toole. As am I. I could go on but I'd end up sounding like a campaign ad for him. So I'll end this here. I'm quite happy with Erin O'Toole's performance so far. I am pleasantly surprised and grateful. Not because I particularly care for O'Toole or a Conservative government, but because I despise Justin Trudeau so much. If the former snowboard instructor continues making gaffes and appealing to absolutely idiotic hyperbolic nonsense about O’Toole’s views on abortion and health care – it will only make Erin O'Toole look stronger. And more reasonable. Again, O'Toole is younger than Justin but looking at the two side by side and listening to them speak – it's like O'Toole has real-life experience and Justin is, well, he is what he is: a trust fund baby. The epitome of white male privilege. O'Toole worked to get where he is today. Justin had name recognition. Oh, and I guess good hair.
Of course, we're only into week two. We're a long way from September 20th. A lot could happen between then and now. But if this trend continues, the last six years of broken promises and economic and medical mismanagement might just sink the Liberals back to where they belong, back to where Harper put them in 2011 – to third party status.