Election 2015 – A case of the lesser of three evils?

This is a guest column; ‘Mihael Willman’ is the pseudonym for a concerned Canadian – JG.

by Mihael Willman

“And while Justin Trudeau is proud of his father’s legacy, does he ever consider the fact that it was his father who started Canada down the long, long road to deficit spending? It was the elder Trudeau who took the surplus he inherited and turned it into a massive deficit and ever-growing debt. Sorry, Justin, but Canada has had one Prime Minister Trudeau too many.”

The federal election campaign is finally drawing to a close and for this Canadian it can’t come soon enough.

Over the years I’ve pitied the poor American elector being constantly bombarded by political ads for months on end. The process of selecting the presidential candidate is especially long and excruciating. While not as long, this year’s federal election is turning out to be more than a sane person can bear.

For a political junky, I’ve tried to avoid watching the three party leaders whenever they appear on the TV screen. The photo-ops showing the major leaders surrounded by supposed supporters, dressed in either hardhats, safety vests, or some other kind of uniform, all look so incredibly phoney and artificial to me. Wonder just how many of the people are actual supporters, as those I’ve seen all seem to have the same pained and bored look. Not sure who first thought up this idea as a good way to showcase campaigning politicians. Personally, I would prefer a more simple backdrop, or a curious beluga whale swimming in its tank, as happened in the U.S. Much more interesting and appealing, if you’re not interested in watching the politicians.

Then there are the photo-ops where the leaders are engaged in some kind of normal, everyday activity. Sorry, but I can’t wrap my head around Justin Trudeau serving coffee to a customer or placing a pizza into an oven. I doubt that the silver-spooned Trudeau ever had occasion to work in such jobs as the rest of us ordinary citizens, who did so as students or do so as adults. Just which advisors thought these scenarios would somehow make their candidate more appealing to the electorate? If this is what convinces voters about the suitability of the candidates, then democracy is seriously flawed.

Beyond the carefully organized and scripted appearances, there are all those wonderful promises of what each will do for us with our money, paid to Ottawa in various taxes. In other words, unless they have access to some secret financial funds we don’t know about, they’re simply trying to buy our votes with our money. Nothing more and nothing less. And once they are in office, don’t hold your breath waiting for the promises to come through. More likely than not, there will be some “good” reason why it can’t be done, or at least not yet.

The choice in this election may be a difficult one, a case of choosing between the devil we know and the devil we don’t know. There are many issues on which I’ve disagreed with Stephen Harper, not least of which is his about-face regarding Communist China and the signing of the FIPA agreement with China. Then there are his terrible Senate appointments, the foreign workers program, his stand on the oil sands and the environment, to name just a few. While the Harper government may have made some good decisions, it was usually a case of one step forward (ie. a good decision) followed by several steps back (ie. several bad decisions).

For a brief moment I flirted with the idea of going against my natural inclinations and voting for the NDP, more as a sign of protest against what I felt were non-conservative actions of the present government. But that idea was fairly quickly rejected.

I lost all respect for Thomas Mulcair when he used the tragic death of the Kurdi children for partisan politics, as did Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. Like a number of leftist journalists, Mulcair quickly jumped on the band-wagon blaming Ottawa for their deaths, when he wasn’t in possession of all the facts. It soon became evident, newspaper headlines to the contrary, that the children and their parents had not been rejected by the Canadian government, as no application had been made on their behalf. Rather it was the application of another brother and his family that had been rejected. Some of this confusion was due to conflicting statements given by their sister living in Vancouver, who claimed to be trying to sponsor first one brother then the other.

Despite all indications that Canada is not to blame for this tragic event, both the NDP and Liberals played into public emotions. Both parties began vying with each other setting the number of Syrian refugees they wanted brought to Canada immediately, or before the end of the year. Liberal candidate Catherine McKenna, after visiting an Ottawa mosque, went so far as to state in an interview that “Canadians are calling for accepting more refugees.” It is not surprising that the people she met at the mosque would support such a call, but Canadians as a whole, that is debatable. Just another example of wooing the ethnic vote, something all three parties have become adept at doing, whether it is in the interests of Canada as a whole or not.

Security checks, which are incredibly important for people coming from this region, seemed to be downplayed in the Liberal and NDP rush to appear more humanitarian than the government or their political opponent. Justin Trudeau has actually questioned the need for security checks before refugees are brought in. Citing previous acceptances of refugees during similar crises, he said that security checks were not an issue. What he seems to either forget, ignore, or simply not understand, is the fact that the situation is vastly different today than it was years ago. The fact is that the Syrian and Iraqi refugees are coming from areas where extreme fundamentalists and radical islamic groups are fighting for power and control. There is no way of knowing just who is who in the political equation, especially if there is no way of identifying the extremists.

Not to be outdone, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien chimed in with his two cents worth. He accused Harper of shaming Canada in the eyes of Canadians and the world with his actions, or lack of actions, regarding the Syrian refugees. Does Chretien think Canada is supposed to take in every last relative of Syrians living here, so that no harm should come to any one of them? How about being critical of the wealthy Arab states, Saudi Arabia for one, who have not taken in any refugees from this region?

Making light of the need for security checks, Chretien joked that when Canada accepted the Vietnamese boat people “there might have been a communist or two among them.” According to him the Syrians are only “looking for a place to make a living.” Should there be a bad apple among them, Ottawa can simply put him on a plane and send him home, since he is “not a citizen until he applies for citizenship.” Interesting that Chretien seems to forget how our “Charter of Rights” is being abused by failed refugee claimants and others to prevent their deportation. The same would apply to his so-called “bad apples.”

What makes this criticism so hypocritical is the fact that Chretien thought nothing about meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, despite his actions in Crimea and Ukraine. As if this wasn’t enough, he praised and welcomed Putin’s recent growing involvement in Syria, when it is abundantly clear that the air strikes are against all the Syrian opposition forces fighting Assad and not just exclusively against ISIS. This is the same Assad who is primarily responsible for all the Syrian refugees streaming out of the country. Meanwhile, Trudeau didn’t even know Russia was militarily supporting Assad before the air strikes began.

Sorry, but while these issues are important for some, they are not issues which should be allowed to determine who leads this country for the next four years.

Listening to Justin Trudeau attack Harper’s economic record and calling upon former Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, as well as other Liberals as his economic team, is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. At a Montreal meeting with Trudeau in late August, Paul Martin called Stephen Harper “the king of deficits” and said: “Conservative obsession with eliminating the deficit down to the final decimal point is more than short-sighted. It’s yesterday’s war.” This is the same person who is praised by Liberals for balancing the budget which was achieved at the expense of federal health transfers to the provinces, as well as the end of federal spending on social housing, thus transferring the burden onto the provinces. Anyone can claim to balance a budget by simply dumping the costs onto another level of government. This is creative bookkeeping at its most imaginative! And then Trudeau has the temerity to accuse Harper of balancing the budget on the backs of “vulnerable Canadians.” Isn’t that what Paul Martin did?

We’re supposed to trust Trudeau’s “economic team” with the future economic health of this country, after what they had done? Let’s also not forget the sponsorship scandals of the Chretien era or, on a provincial level, the wasteful spending of the Ontario Liberals who threw away billions of dollars on eHealth, ORNGE, the cancelled power plants, etc. Provincially or federally, the Liberal parties are birds of a feather, spending us into greater and greater deficits.

And while Justin Trudeau is proud of his father’s legacy, does he ever consider the fact that it was his father who started Canada down the long, long road to deficit spending? It was the elder Trudeau who took the surplus he inherited and turned it into a massive deficit and ever-growing debt. Sorry, Justin, but Canada has had one Prime Minister Trudeau too many.

Justin Trudeau’s campaign slogan is “That’s real change.” But how can it be real change when he is calling on both Jean Chretien and Paul Martin to appear with him on the campaign trail? The only change here appears to be a return to the scandal-ridden days of the Chretien era and the creative financial policies of the Martin days. More than that one can’t expect from the Liberals.

It certainly is a difficult decision when there is no clear, outstanding choice. What is a voter to do? Hold one’s nose and vote for the best of a bad bunch and hope that other Canadians will do the same?