The Sunday Edition

Michael's Essay - The election brought out the worst in our political parties, but not in Canadians

“Canadian politics has always been an exercise in compromise and so it will be again. My friend David Frum, rogue Republican and commentator, wrote a piece for The Atlantic headlined ‘This Election Brought Out Canada’s Worst.’ I beg to differ. No, it didn’t. The worst in our political parties maybe, perhaps even our leaders, but not in Canadians themselves.”
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau makes his way to the stage as he celebrates with supporters at Liberal election headquarters in Montreal on Tuesday Oct. 22, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick / Canadian Press)
Listen4:13

The morning after election day in my part of the country was dreary, wet, cloud-covered. Much like the mood in the rest of Canada.

Experts in literature call that pathetic fallacy. When the weather and other natural elements  dramatically complement, or mirror, the weaknesses and turmoil of human protagonists.

For example, a tortuous love affair might be mimicked by thunder and a storm-tossed sea.

Anyway, that was the mood at the weekly breakfast table where the senior folk mused rather disconsolately about the election results. The election of losers, they called it.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh makes his way to the stage at his party headquarters in Burnaby, British Columbia on Monday. "Canadian politics has always been an exercise in compromise and so it will be again," writes Enright. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In truth, that's what it was. The governing Liberals lost 27 seats. The NDP lost seats and were shut out in Toronto.The Conservatives gained 22 seats but failed to break through in Ontario and Quebec to get a majority.

Worse for the Liberals, they were skunked in Alberta and Saskatchewan and lost three seats in normally friendly Manitoba.

After all the political talk, the conversation at the breakfast table, which is populated mostly by lawyers, suddenly took a different tack.

Out of nowhere, people started talking about death. More precisely, about death and burial plans. 

Some were for cremation. Some wanted an old-fashioned burial.The talk shifted to which were the best cemeteries, which were full, which were the most expensive and so on.

It was almost like a group of old friends talking animatedly about vacation properties.

Was this another example of the pathetic fallacy, a totally unexpected one?

Some commentators suggested as much. A minority government in the offing, rough times lay ahead.

The country was hopelessly divided, west versus east — yet again. And with the surprising success of the nationalist Bloc Quebecois, the possibility of a resurgence in separatism.

Which is silly. The country has been divided many times since Confederation. It my lifetime, it almost fell apart at least twice. There were terrible divisions over conscription in the two world wars. 

We've lived through political kidnappings, stormy federal-provincial relations, threats of secession from Alberta and Quebec, scary recessions and fearsome inflation.

With all that, some of our most progressive social programs were launched by minority governments — medicare, old age assistance, a national pension plan.

Canadian politics has always been an exercise in compromise and so it will be again.

My friend David Frum, rogue Republican and commentator, wrote a piece for the Atlantic headlined "This Election Brought Out Canada's Worst."

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speak after the results of Monday's election. This election showed "the worst in our political parties maybe, perhaps even our leaders, but not in Canadians themselves." (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press; Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press; Ben Nelms/CBC)

I beg to differ. No, it didn't. The worst in our political parties maybe, perhaps even our leaders, but not in Canadians themselves.

Two things: First, voters rejected en masse the crackpot politics of homegrown populism.

And secondly, voters insured that no federal politician or party can ever again downplay the importance of fighting global warming.

Canadians made clear to all the  parties that they want action on the climate front and want it sooner rather than later.

While it is too early and probably improvident to look to sunny days as the next example of pathetic fallacy, the ship of state is yar and steady and on course.

The nearly 66 percent of Canadians who did vote owe themselves a pat on the back.

Click 'listen' above to hear Michael's Essay. 

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