Pandemic Elections and Why Politicians Like Them
Back in August, our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau decided it would be a good time to call a federal election as recent polls suggested he would win a majority government mandate allowing him to push through most of the crap he wasn’t able with the minority government he was provided in the 2019 election. After stating that nobody wanted an election in the middle of a pandemic, he turns around and calls for one anyway as his personal agenda is apparently much more important than the safety of those who would be going out to vote. We are now all aware of the results which had us back to the same minority government with very little change in the seat counts. We also now know the election cost taxpayers more than $600 million dollars, money that could have been put to better use in the midst of this fourth wave of this Covid-19 pandemic.
I realize that this post is coming some time after the actual election, but the elapsed time has provided us with more information regarding the election including the new cabinet selections by the Prime Minister. Chrystia Freeland became the Deputy Prime Minister in this most recent cabinet announcement along with several other changes. How these changes will affect how Parliament functions in the next 18 months or so before the next election is called, is something we will need to wait and see on. I see a great deal of familiarity to the previous cabinet as well as the continuation of a minority government. The Liberal Party went with the poll numbers prior to calling this most recent election and seemed to get their forecast of a majority government very wrong. The Liberals did gain a modest 5 seats in this recent election, but that was not at a cost to the other major parties. The breakdown by popular vote once again had the Liberals (32.62%) losing to the Conservatives (33.74%). The Liberals also lost ground in the popular vote in comparison to the 2019 election which saw the Liberals at 33.12% and the Conservatives with 34.34%. However, despite losing the popular vote, the Liberal Party did win the most seats, which in Canada gives them the right to form government.
Prime Minister States No Pandemic Election
I’m not quite sure why Justin Trudeau decided to call this recent election after stating previously that he had no intention of calling an election during this pandemic, which many thought should have been the priority matter before the government. I also believe the government should have been putting resources towards saving people’s lives from Covid-19, which has not been kind to the residents of this country and continues to be an ongoing problem. Poll numbers may have indicated a possible majority government, but the reality of the ongoing pandemic and moral judgement should have left the election to another day in the future when this pandemic is finally under control and the threat of losing more lives is no longer there. Unfortunately, politicians seem to like using certain settings for political power and the pandemic provides a good setting for the elevation of one’s platform and how the hard work they have done to date is reason to give them another term and a majority mandate.
The Ugliness of a Federal Election
Leading up to the election, I would often go on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and the amount of vitriol I was reading had me believing that there was no way Justin Trudeau would win this election and certainly if he did, he wouldn’t gain a majority government. Some of the comments were to vile to even repeat here and I have to wonder if some of the people posting what they did lost their accounts or had them suspended. There were definitely some comments in response to what some posted that would have violated the rules of the social media platforms they were written on. There were also many good points raised on why a Prime Minister who broke ethics rules and found guilty on multiple occasions should be trusted with taxpayer dollars, and should he win, who would he be routing money to.
Saving Lives Should Have Been the Priority
Many politicians believe that governments have been instrumental in saving lives based on decisions they have made, the same holds true to many of those decisions resulting in lives being lost. Governments were responsible for procuring the vaccines needed to help reduce the number of infections. Here in Canada, governments were also aware of the segments of the population that was most vulnerable to infections and higher rates of death that resulted from those infections. When I first read about the virus taking hold in China and the lives being lost, I was under the impression governments in other countries, including Canada, would be limiting the amount of traffic coming into the country from those that had incidents of infection and prioritize saving lives. However, that didn’t happen and we saw the results that decision made to the most vulnerable of our population. We kept hearing about using social distancing and then later, using masks to help reduce the spread of the virus, but our government did little, if anything, to prevent the virus from entering our country and taking many lives along with it.
Canadian Children to Receive Vaccines
Once we saw numbers regarding the infection starting to drop in most parts of the country, Justin Trudeau saw an opportunity to convert those numbers into votes for himself and his party. Most of those dropping infection rate numbers were due to vaccines finally making their way into the arms of Canadians and the warm weather also helped by allowing people to gather outdoors instead of indoors where the risk of infection is considerably higher. As predicted by many health experts, we went from the third wave of this pandemic and we are now in the fourth wave with winter upon us. We have areas of the country that are going back into lockdown, along with a virus that has mutated into more dangerous versions of itself. We now have fully vaccinated people who are becoming infected with these new strains of the virus and dying. We just learned that children 5 to 11 years of age will now be eligible for vaccination as it has been this group that has been seeing increasing rates of infections.
Low Voter Turnout for 2021 Election
Another number that was significant in this recent election, was the turnout of voters, many who were afraid to go to the polls to cast their ballot in fear of possible infection. I can’t blame anyone for thinking such as it was one of the issues I was most concerned with. On election day we heard of many people being in lines for an hour or more waiting to get into a polling station to cast their ballot. Although all protocols regarding the pandemic were being followed by Elections Canada at all polling stations, the possibility of contracting the virus was at the top of many people’s minds and no doubt affected the turnout. Any of the three major parties that could convince people to get out and vote for them had the possibility of winning the election and I believe politicians were focusing attention on voter turnout as well and how the presumed decline in numbers could affect their outcome. Voter turnout for the 2021 election was at an almost historic low with the numbers coming in at 59%. Compare this to the 2019 election turnout number of 67% and 2015 at 68.3%.
Minority Government Lifespan
In any case, the election is now behind us and given data on the length of previous minority parties, we can probably expect another election come 2023 or even sooner. Opposition parties will have some time to get their leaders exposed to the general population before then and may be able to use that to their advantage. The Conservatives in this recent election had a new leader that had not been in his position long before this election was called, with few Canadians knowing who he was or what his stand on various issues was leading up to election day.
Until the next election, I will continue to go about my daily routines and keep as safe as possible while this pandemic is active. We can only hope that in the near future we can get back to some sense of normalcy in our lives, but I doubt we will ever get back to life the way it was prior to this pandemic. It may be quite possible that another type of viral infection is not far away and we will go through this once again. Until then however, stay safe and continue to follow the advice of medical experts who are educated in such matters and hope that our politicians will do the same.