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Election 2021

Please Advise! So that Election... Why?

It was a wholly futile exercise reminiscent of other super-not-great battles, reflects Doc Steve.

Steve Burgess 21 Sep

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Well, what was that all about?



Dear Weary,

Looking back over Campaign 2021, Dr. Steve is reminded of the great battles of the First World War. (Too soon?) Admittedly there were no great effusions of blood shed in this election. But otherwise, it resembled the Battle of the Somme. The generals have a brilliant plan — this will strike a decisive blow! — the strategy is laid out, the orders given, the whistle blows, everyone charges over the top, mayhem ensues, the survivors creep back into the trench, and next day’s sun rises over battle lines more or less unchanged.

So much jet fuel, so much punditry, so many sinister cello notes playing through endless attack ads. Poor Jagmeet Singh must be thinking, “All that skateboarding, and for what?”

Anyone who has watched a cat knead, massage, then circle and circle before plunking down in the same spot as always will recognize the 2021 campaign of Erin O’Toole. At the dissolution of Parliament, the Tories had 119 seats. O’Toole spent months repositioning himself — an adjustment here, a sidestep there, a swerve this way, a dodge over there. As of writing, the Conservatives are on track for 119 seats. So much shuffling, and all the while his foot was nailed to the floor. During the campaign there was lots of news footage of O’Toole out jogging — too bad no one got a clip of him on a treadmill.

It’s not just the Conservative totals that look the same. When all was said and said and said and said and done, the incoming Parliament and the outgoing one look like Stanley Kubrick’s Grady Twins. There are a few new faces replacing a few others, but for the most part it was all sound and fury — or would have been if you hadn’t hit the mute button.

The People’s Party was doing better in the polls this time, thanks apparently to its status as the sole refuge of the gravel-tossing, nurse-harassing, vaccine-hating, horse-goo-gobbling voter. But they whiffed again. Even leader Maxime Bernier was soundly defeated in his own riding of Beauce, in Quebec. Definitely a shot in the arm for democracy.

A few channels up from the election coverage, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers were defeating the Detroit Lions. It’s worth mentioning just to illustrate that the night wasn’t a total loss for the Greens. Elizabeth May won, and they picked up a new seat in Ontario. That gives them two seats which is — stop me if you’ve heard this before — what they had before the election. But the Green vote collapsed in many regions, dropping nationally from about 6.5 per cent to around two. As for leader Annamie Paul, she ran such a tough campaign in her home riding of Toronto Centre that it took three candidates to beat her. Still, how about those Green Bay Packers?

Locally, the Vancouver Granville riding was closely watched. Liberal real estate whiz Taleeb Noormohamed, who shares a nickname with a famous dolphin, was in a tight race with New Democrat Anjali Appadurai. All night long the lead kept, well, flipping. As of now, Noormohamed has taken possession of the seat. But hey, make him an offer.

And finally, what of the man who ordered the troops to go over the top and charge the guns once more? Justin Trudeau didn’t lose. He didn’t win either. The prime minister gave a cheerful victory speech early Tuesday morning, but he cannot have been too pleased. These days his personal brand is about as popular as Facebook — people still use it, but nobody seems to like it very much.

Dr. Steve thinks that the real change of the 2021 campaign will probably come at the top. Leader Paul may leave the Green job before she is pushed. O’Toole will have some battles but will likely come through. Singh too will survive to skateboard another day. Trudeau? Dr. Steve is willing to predict that he has run his last Liberal campaign for the foreseeable future. If he is smart, he’ll run out the string on his government’s mandate and then step aside for a free and fair leadership race that will end up anointing Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. And then with new hope, a new plan, and a new cello player, it’s once more over the top, dear friends.

First World War trench soldiers used to sing “We’re here because we’re here.” That’s as good a 2021 campaign send-off song as any. Or maybe “Let it Be.” Please. We’re begging you.  [Tyee]

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