The Opposition would be wise to let Trudeau win the next election

 

If the Trudeau Liberals, in characteristically ruthless fashion, provoke a pandemic election, the opposition parties should welcome it.  Because in such a contest, given their misdeeds, the Liberals would almost certainly win.

If that passage causes you to doubt my political acumen, you’re not the first.  But here’s the thing.  While there are plenty of reasons to dislike the Trudeau administration, from its string of scandals to its reckless fiscal policy to its arrogance, if those things aren’t really serious, the Liberals deserve to be reelected and the opposition parties are delusional, along with many commentators including me.  Whereas if they are as bad as they seem, it’s because they will have bad consequences at some point and the opposition parties should want the Liberals to wear them.

Sure, it’s weird and frustrating that so many voters are still enjoying the free money sufficiently to overlook them or even applaud them.  But since they are, any useful practical advice has to start with that unsavory truth.

I realize I’m not likely to give the NDP any advice it will want on any level, from change your policies to change your leader to go away entirely.  But since they have never won a federal election and almost certainly never will, my starting point for them is how to continue their remarkably long successful run of dragging the Liberals leftward.

Perhaps in the short run it’s by propping up Trudeau’s minority while grumbling about scandals.  And on substance, though they haven’t gotten national pharmacare, they’ve received big deficits, wokeness, climate radicalism and disarmament so what’s not to like?

Two things.  One is the short-sighted fear that the Liberals will get all the credit in the next election and, shades of 1974, win a majority.  But there’s not much they can do about it now (other than dumping Jagmeet Singh, the supposedly charismatic invisible man).  And the long-term danger is that all the Liberals’ errors and misdeeds catch up to them while the NDP is still propping them up and the Tories thunder to victory.  Better to go back into genuine Opposition just in time to say “Told you so.”  (The same applies to the Greens in a minor key.)

Next, the Bloc Quebecois.  Yes, apparently it still exists though nobody’s sure why, including them.  Just as it apparently has a leader but nobody’s sure who, including them.  Wikipedia says it’s some guy called Yves-François Blanchet.  But it also says his party is “Centre-left”, which here means it has all the same left-wing policies as the Liberals except on sovereignty where it is boldly for and cautiously hesitant.

So what would they do with victory?  Hold another referendum?  Well, no, because those things are provincial.  Their best bet is to hang around in Ottawa with a reputable seat total too small to be king-makers, and whine at Canadian taxpayers’ expense until they qualify for that big pension.

So now let’s talk about the Tories, even if not to them because they don’t listen so good.  They think they’re raring to go.  Really?

My colleague Bill Watson just expressed bafflement in the Financial Post at their new “Just Erin” ads saying how ordinary their leader is.  So perhaps it has not dawned on the Conservatives that ultra-feminist Justin Trudeau is no SNAG.  He’s tall, handsome, ready with his fists (ask Patrick Brazeau) or his elbows (ask Ruth Ellen Brosseau) to get his way with genial ruthlessness, and the son of the king who inherited his wealth.  Plus he has a traditional family including beautiful supportive wife and three lovely children, essentially the fairy tale prince after the denouement.  And they’re positioning Erin O’Toole as what?  The stable boy?

Also, the Tories have all the same policies as the Liberals except they’d do it better without knowing how.  Including on fiscal policy.  But again, if you believe debts and deficits are bad, voters like many pundits haven’t seen it yet, as record low interest rates mask the danger of pumping out money while the economy contracts.  So bide a wee.

At some point prices will start to rise and not just in housing markets.  And um grocery stores.  But until the overpriced chickens come home to roost, what can you do?  Other than win like chumps just as it all blows up, and be pilloried as the party of austerity for a generation.  Far better to lose the next election, watch Trudeau take it in the face, then win the one after with a real program of principled conservative reform.

Of course the big danger for the Tories is that running a milquetoast leader and Red Tory campaign could lose them a bunch of seats to Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party.  (To whom my advice is: Keep calm and carry on.)  But, if so, better to do it while people are still hypnotized by Trudeau than “win” but fall short of a majority because the West turned on you, then try to broker a deal in the full glare of publicity.

It is not easy for political parties to think in this manner.  Winning is everything, and winning now doubly so.  But if the Trudeau administration is doing well, especially in its overall response to the pandemic, it deserves to remain in office.  And if it is not, it will pay the price once the matter becomes clear.

Since it apparently hasn’t yet, the best plan is to lose one for the team.

Photo Credit: CBC News

More from John Robson.    Follow John on Twitter at @thejohnrobson

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