by Angelo Persichilli
The Hill Times (April 10, 2017)
Reading the news about last week’s federal by-elections, you might get the impression that the Trudeau government is in trouble and the Conservatives are on the rise, when in fact both interpretations are wrong.
Mid-term elections are traditionally problematic for every government. Voters tend to unload some expected frustration because they might feel the government is not keeping all their campaign promises.
Furthermore, most of the electorate stays home for a by-election, probably not even being aware of the vote. In fact, in a by-election, it is mainly the protest vote going out. This outcome is predictable almost like the deadline for tax returns.
Last week’s by-election results fall right into this predictable outcome. We didn’t even have an upset in any of the five ridings involved, where they are still represented by MPs from the same party representing them before the vote.
The other fake news is that Conservatives are on the rise. Really?
The electorate is leaving the Liberals for what? For a party with no leader and, obviously, no policies? The Conservative Party is in the middle of a leadership campaign with so many candidates that it is even difficult to count them, never mind knowing them or reading their policies. Which Conservatives are on the rise, those supporting Kellie Leitch, Kevin O’Leary, or Maxime Bernier?
Voters, or those few who bothered to go to the polls, might have been disappointed with the Liberals, but definitely they can’t be in favour of political alternatives that don’t exist. I am not implying at all that the Liberals will win the next federal election, no matter what. I am only saying that the six byelections are no indication whatsoever of the political health of a governing party. They don’t reflect either the political strength of the opposition and, obviously, cannot be considered an indication of the outcome of the next federal election. It was true in the past and is even more so now.
We also predicted John Tory and Tim Hudak as future premiers of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty humiliated and Kathleen Wynne would go back to the school board. In fact, McGuinty retired on his own, Wynne is premier of Ontario, Tory is mayor of Toronto, and Hudak is CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association.
Justin Trudeau might lose the next election, as Kathleen Wynne could win the next Ontario vote. According to the present political environment, these statements might sound laughable, as was the prediction seven years ago that Rob Ford would become the 64th mayor of Toronto, or last year at this time that Donald Trump would become the 45th president of United States.
Life changes. Unfortunately, changes lately take place at a much pace faster than the time we require to absorb them. It is like watching a hockey game with the video reaching us faster than the voice of the commentator. It’s like the commentator is watching a different game and, in the process, sounds ridiculous and incompetent—just like us explaining the by-elections. In politics is very difficult even to predict…the past, never mind the future.
Angelo Persichilli is a freelance journalist and a former citizenship judge for the Greater Toronto Area. He was also a director of communications to former prime minister Stephen Harper, former columnist for Toronto Sun and Toronto Star and former political editor of Corriere Canadese, Canada’s Italian-language newspaper in Toronto.