Canada’s 2021 Election: Trudeau’s Miscalculation

Lee Friday – September 21, 2021

(Revised Sep 26/21)

Justin Trudeau was widely criticized for calling an election during a pandemic, but he thought that his oppressive covid policies would play well with the voting public, which would then reward his minority Liberal government with enough additional seats to give them majority status. He was wrong. The Liberals won the election, but they did not achieve majority status. So much for reading the minds of the voters.

The Conservative (in name only) Party repeated their 2019 performance by winning the popular vote and finishing in second place. Which brings us to the surprise of the election: the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).

In 2017, Maxime Bernier narrowly lost the Conservative Party leadership convention – or it was stolen from him – because of his opposition to Canada’s socialistic supply management system that forces consumers to pay artificially high prices for eggs, dairy, and poultry products. In 2018, Bernier left the Conservative party and founded the PPC because of his dissatisfaction with the Conservative party platform, which he described as “intellectually and morally corrupt.”

In the 2019 election, the PPC, which has a distinct libertarian flavour, received 1.6 percent of the popular vote. In contrast, it took the Green Party twenty years and six elections to garner 1.6 percent of the popular vote. In the Sep 20, 2021 election, the PPC did not win any seats, but they increased their share of the popular vote to five percent (Greens got 2.3 percent), which is a remarkable and unexpected achievement for a party that is barely three years old.

The PPC distinguished themselves with a platform that stood in stark contrast to the platforms of the Liberals and Conservatives. More importantly for this particular election, it is likely that the PPC’s opposition to authoritarian pandemic policies was the primary catalyst for their impressive performance.

So Trudeau’s decision to call an election backfired on him because he did not get the majority control that he wanted. But it also backfired on him because it gave many people an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction for his authoritarian pandemic policies by voting for the PPC. Thus, his failed attempt to secure a majority government has strengthened the profile of the PPC. Bernier should send Trudeau a thank-you note.

None of this is to suggest that the PPC is a white knight for freedom loving Canadians. When it comes to politics, a healthy dose of skepticism is always advisable. Political parties come and go, and are often coopted. Would Bernier keep his promises if he won an election? We don’t know.

What we do know is that Canada’s three main national political parties (Liberals, Conservatives, NDP), all leftist, are concerned that the three-year-old PPC increased its share of the popular vote by more than three-fold in just twenty-three months. They should be concerned. A rising PPC on the right may not bode well for Canada’s bipartisan leftist politics, because Bernier, who is not a rookie, is well versed in libertarianism.

In a recent interview with Jordan Peterson, Bernier provided a few examples of his libertarian leanings. He decries the woke culture. He opposes business subsidies and favours free market incentives. He acknowledges the contributions of Mises, Rothbard, and Hayek as he blames the central bank for the business cycle. He wants to reduce the Bank of Canada’s inflation target from two percent to zero percent. He understands that consumers’ purchasing power is reduced by the inflation tax. Thus, he opposes fiat currency, and supports the gold standard. He likes cryptocurrency because he favours money competition. He favours radical decentralization at the federal level, thereby increasing the level of provincial autonomy, which brings government closer to the people in the various regions. This includes healthcare, where he wants to eliminate the federal government’s role.

Trudeau gift-wrapped a higher public profile to the PPC, but it remains to be seen whether Bernier seizes this opportunity to explain the PPC’s libertarian ideas to many more Canadians before Trudeau – or his replacement – announces the next election. More to the point, if he wins an election, will Bernier stay true to his libertarian principles, or will his name be added to Canada’s long list of political sellouts? Only time will tell.

However, the Liberals and Conservatives – for whom integrity has no meaning – are worried that Bernier will actually stick to his principles, and use his extensive libertarian knowledge to explain to Canadians the myriad ways in which big brother government is detrimental to their well-being.

We don’t know if the PPC is the real deal, but for now, politicians on the left are rightfully nervous. At the very least, after a year and a half of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, a healthy dose of entertainment is a welcome relief – and it’s always fun to watch politicians squirm.

Image source: Alirod Ameri via Flickr

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