Opinion: If this election was a test of leadership, all of them failed

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During the 2014 provincial election in Ontario, incumbent Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne made the choice between her “safe hands” and the opposition’s “reckless plans”.

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It was an unintentionally hilarious slogan for a party steeped in scandal, dysfunction and ruin, but the message nonetheless resonated with the people of Ontario. Voters were asked to consider who they believed they could rely on to protect their basic needs and interests, and in the end, Ms Wayne had a “safe hand”.

The circumstances of that election were far less dire than the circumstances that set the scene for Monday’s federal election, which was called in favor of the Liberals on Monday evening. Ontario was a normal time in 2014; Police were investigating a former top Liberal employee for wiping government hard drives, sure, but little criminal activity is to be expected in any government routine (she writes, from the black grotto where His youthful optimism lived).


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But Canada is not normal in 2021. The country has suffered a kind of collective shock; A disturbance so deep and profound that not a single person remained unaffected. It exposed the absurdity of running a hospital system with such a dire capacity crunch that just a couple hundred intensive care patients could cripple an entire province. This led to women’s participation in the workforce leading to learning impairments among students in backward, closed schools, and increased drug overdose deaths nationwide. Every Canadian has lost something: a job, a loved one, relationships with friends, a routine, a sense of security, or the belief that, in the end, our leaders are capable and willing to make difficult choices to keep us. Huh. Safe.

This election should have been about “safe hands” – about the candidate who has the right sensitivity, political bravery and the wisdom to recognize his own limitations to see us through the next big disaster.

Yet COVID-19 was mostly invoked as a cuddle over the past five weeks: for failing to disclose vaccines among its own candidates, or for liberals being too slow to close the border. For, or to punish the Conservatives for the sake of the NDP. They boast about their own impact on the generosity of relief programs. The pandemic was listed as one of several national concerns – gun violence, abortion, no more or less important than carbon taxes, and which leader is more privileged and out-of-touch with the average worker ( spoiler: they all are) – as if COVID-19 were not something that united all Canadians in worry and grief, and shattered our collective faith in the people and institutions that protect us from harm Huh.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who would go on to become prime minister again, may be right in suggesting that this was the most important election since 1945, as voters have not had a ready-made display of influence since then, even of electoral choice. effect may occur. Fine aspects of life. It could have been an election where war rooms put aside cheap shots and fanciful wedges, recognizing that the Canadians endured – and continued to endure – something that would probably stay with them for a lifetime. And it could be an opportunity for those competing to form the next government, to demonstrate why they have the backbone and humility to effectively lead Canada in times of future crisis.

The Conservatives apparently tried to allay the collective fear that this pandemic has created with their slogan – “Secure the future” – which sounded like something that cartoon characters did before traveling back in time. One might say from the anthropological skateboard. Those were just words. But at no point in the campaign did a candidate demonstrate a willingness to adopt an unpopular position for the greater good (on Quebec’s Bill 21, for example) or to expedite decision-making when the position demanded (filled or problematic). candidates, for example), or a willingness to engage honestly with complex and laden issues (such as firearms regulations or pipeline politics), it must have demonstrated a capacity for leadership, which is more than any counterfactual about Would be far more meaningful if he guided Canada through it. global pandemic.

After all, provincial and federal leaders have faltered during this pandemic, when they acted too slowly, often out of concern for personal or political popularity. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is the most recent casualty of this pointless and destructive impulse. Yet none of the front-runners in this election campaign dared to engage with challenging views, or step down from politically advantageous positions. Whatever the specific structure of the public should have confidence in the ability of the next government to deal with any crisis ahead – whether it is climate change, or an aging population, or any other pandemic – as long as harsh but necessary decisions run the risk of political punishment. In fact, if this election was a test of leadership—who among the leading candidates had “safe hands” to make the tough call when the stakes were high—then none of them passed, even if one of them won.

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