Any time now, the dumpster fire begins

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Well friends, here we stand on the precipice.  In the coming days, or maybe weeks, the election campaign will officially be upon us.

Functionally, the campaign has been going on for months.  Once Andrew Scheer settled in as Conservative leader, the race was more or less on.  But we’re about to cross into the realm of reality.

Put another way, the next two months are going to be dreadful.

As evidence, let me present the slogans of the major parties (and the Greens):

  • Liberal: “Choose forward”;
  • Conservative: “It’s time for you to get ahead”;
  • NDP: “On your side”;
  • Green: “Not left.  Not right.  Forward together.”

[very long sigh]

So that’s what we’re working with.  A bunch of tripe, that’s going to be endlessly repeated — in images, and in words — until the rest of go to the polls on Oct. 21.

Which, I guess, is fitting.  “A bunch of tripe, endlessly repeated” is a solid summation of Canadian politics generally.

So, let’s keep this animal-innards theme going, and read the entrails of the slogans to figure out what we have in store in the coming many, many weeks.

First up, let’s talk Tories.  “It’s time for you to get ahead” has a lot of comedic potential.  Don’t be surprised if you see a few neighbourhood signs to have the “a” coloured over during the campaign.  Every party should have at least one person with a highly juvenile outlook on the world on staff.  The — tee hee! — naughty possibilities for the slogan are pretty obvious.

But, seriously, the Conservatives are laying down a very straightforward plan.  They want to make this election about pocketbook issues.  Their opposition to a carbon tax is based on the idea it costs everyone too much, and their plan is cheaper.  (Putting aside their plan is almost certainly less effective at reducing carbon emissions, it’s also likely to cost more and do less.  But anyway.)

Expect Scheer to drone on for the next few months about life being more expensive for everyday Canadians — rather than those occasional Canadians, one presumes — and how he will make things cheaper.  But if you go back to his central offer to get rid of the carbon tax, you can see he’s, well, full of it.  If his plan is more costly and less efficient, how exactly is he going to put more money in your pocket?

Next we have the NDP who are “On your side.”  Which, as an NDP slogan is not bad.  It speaks to a sort of little guy populism, focused on the workers.  The trouble with this one is that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has not shown him to be very adept at this sort of thing.  He was chosen because it seemed like he had the secret quasi- celebrity mojo that was so hot in 2015.  But, two things have happened since then, people are not that into the instagramability of their leaders any more, and Singh’s perceived mojo was more perception than reality.

There was a brief moment there when the SNC-Lavalin scandal first burst into the open where it looked like he was onto something.  But he’s been unable to build on the idea that the Liberals are out to protect Canada’s big, sclerotic corporations, not the middle class or whatever.  He’s been further hurt by his inability to raise money and the flight of a huge chunk of his caucus.

Singh may be on your side, but who else is with him?

I’m going to deal with the Greens here first, or at least the first part of their slogan.  “Not left. Not right. Forward together,” is the sort of anti-politics emptiness that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.  The Green Party under Elizabeth May has been a project adrift from ideology, and often common sense.

What kind of climate focused party would also advocate for increased refining capacity.  The idea is to, what, spend billions of dollars building a bunch of petrochemical infrastructure, then in some utopian eco-future decide that we’re not going to use all this stuff we’ve just built at great expense?  We’re just going to build it in the short term and let it rot?  Madness.

The Green Party is not a serious party.  Their policies, outside of their climate focus, are a mess.  And the insistence on a collaborative approach is filled with such utter naivety and obliviousness to how politics is fought today — and since forever — that they can only be seen as beyond help.  Politics requires an underpinning ideology.  The Greens may be better described as not left, not right, but naïfs.

Finally, we come to the Liberal party of Justin Trudeau.  “Choose Forward.”  Out of all of them, this one might get under my skin the most.  It’s one of those marketing thought fragments that hints at profundity, a deep well of meaning, but is nothing but a puddle.

In the ad that launched the slogan — god, that these things are launched drives me up the wall — Trudeau explains that a vote for the Liberals is a vote to continue what they started.  Not to go back to the the ways of the spectre that haunts us all, Stephen Harper.  Instead we must choose forward, not to go forward, just choose forward.  I hate it so much.

If your slogan requires a paragraph long preamble to make sense, it’s shit.

None of these bodes well for an edifying campaign to come.  It’s all farcical.  But, we are a farcical country, and so this is what we deserve.

So buckle up.  The next two-ish months are going to be quite the slog.  If we make it through, we’re only going to have to do it in four — or fewer! — years.

Photo Credit: CBC News

More from Robert Hiltz.     @robert_hiltz

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