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Election 2019: It’s a horse race

Canadian Politics

Top row, from left: NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet

What started out as a boring and nasty campaign, has gotten pretty exciting as election day approaches. Much to the surprise of the media, who had universally written him off, Jagmeet Singh not only performed beautifully in all three debates, in French and English, he showed himself to be confident, mature, left-wing, smart and a good person. The empty rhetoric of both Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau were exposed by this charismatic, empathetic, energetic man, not through attacks but through argument, humour and example. Take that Mr. Deny and Mr. Delay.

Not to mention that the only person of colour to ever lead a national party has faced down overt racism with courage and grace. He has responded to the casual racism of the media by performing as well as he has.

Out of the blue, the Bloc Québeçois, has made a comeback and, after a noteworthy performance by party leader Yves-François Blanchet during the debates, is running neck-and-neck with the Liberals in Quebec just days before the election.

At this moment, it seems almost certain that there will be a minority government with either the NDP or the Bloc holding the balance of power. Strategic voting, which may have given the Liberals their majority last time, has become a central part of the debate, spurred by Liberal scare mongering.

Long before the election, my social media was full of people telling me not to attack Trudeau over the SNC-Lavalin scandal because Scheer might win a majority. The so-called “feminist Prime Minister” got rid of the only Indigenous woman in his cabinet because she took a stand on political interference in a legal matter. Many so-called “progressives” wanted to downplay it out of fear of a Tory majority. That worried me a lot. When I heard the same arguments made for Trudeau about his multiple racist black and brown face incidents, I started to get more worried. This is the most progressive NDP platform we’ve seen in a long time, and yet, many previous NDP voters are still thinking of voting Liberal to stop the Tories.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals may have done some good things, but on most life-and-death issues we face today—environmental catastrophe, Indigenous sovereignty, racism and income inequality—they have not done well enough. The Trudeau Liberals are as close to the corporate elite, maybe closer, than the Scheer Tories. If you have any question about that, read Martin Lukacs’s new book The Trudeau Formula.

While NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is doing a great job with his campaign, the NDP continues to distance itself from the Green New Deal. Their environmental platform is not nearly as strong as the Greens. Why haven’t they embraced the Green New Deal, a policy set spreading in popularity around the world? As the Leap Manifesto’s Avi Lewis has said, “A common project on the scale of the Green New Deal could help restore a sense of a collective purpose” and perhaps even take the NDP over the top.

The NDP’s platform is called a New Deal for People. Instead of ripping off some of the lingo of the Green New Deal, why not join millions around the world who agree that only a green social justice agenda can save us from ecological collapse? Why not use the Green New Deal as a frame for social justice and the party’s platform?

Electoral politics create the feeling of a horse race. I remember running for the NDP in the 1980s in a riding I couldn’t possibly win. I remember that I didn’t even want to win at the time, but two weeks before the election I started thinking it was a possibility. And today, I started thinking that maybe the NDP could take it. This may be delusional, but nevertheless it is critical for the NDP to receive as many votes as possible if there is any chance of combating the climate crisis.

Judy Rebick is a Canadian writer, journalist, political activist, and feminist. In 2001 she helped launch, a multi-media independent news and discussion site, with Mark Surman and Judy MacDonald, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Rebick was publisher of from 2001 until 2005.


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