This past week, various headlines have caught my eye related to Canadian politics. The first was the controversy about Justin Trudeau coming out in support of Quebec sovereignty if Prime Minister Stephen Harper moved Canada backwards in areas such as same-sex marriage and abortion. The second was Vic Toews condemning anyone who opposed the lawful access bill as a supporter of child pornography (then adamantly denying it in the face of video evidence). The third was the long-promised elimination of the long-gun registry.
The Liberal Party of Canada had their convention this weekend and out of it came a new party president in Mike Crawley (over the Chretien-era Sheila Copps), support for legalizing marijuana, and opposition to study severing ties with the British Monarchy. The first two decisions I agree with – the party’s needed to step forward from the bygone age of Chretien for a while now, and it’s good that a major political party has finally recognized the will of our nation’s citizens (plus the swing of money spent on enforcing current marijuana legislation and new taxes into the coffers doesn’t hurt). But this last decision I disagree with.
On May 2, over 61% of Canadians went to the polls and 40% of those delivered the Conservative Party of Canada a majority. I have to hand it to the Conservatives – they stayed on message, made fiscally-responsible promises, and managed to avoid any major gaffes (or regrettable wardrobe choices). The Liberals, on the other hand, imploded like a balloon in the freezer after failing to find a message – let alone a party leader – that connected with Canadians. The two biggest surprises of the night though were the magnitude of the NDP’s surge to become the Official Opposition and the near-obliteration of the Bloc Quebecois. Despite my dislike of the Conservatives, this is probably the first time in five years that I’m hopeful to see the maneuvering and mud-slinging of Canadian politics take a backseat to actual governing.
I was fortunate enough to attend a Liberal fundraising event featuring Justin Trudeau on Friday, April 24th. It was held at the Royal Glenora Club here in Edmonton and involved a sit-down dinner amidst various speeches including the keynote address by Justin.
Truth be told, before hearing him speak I had very little idea of Justin’s background apart from being the son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and a new Liberal MP. Before entering politics, Justin taught social studies and French to high school students in Vancouver. With his abilities to engage and captivate his audience, to provoke further thought and discussion of the ideas presented, and to inspire people to act, one can easily see how he would have been a phenomenal teacher and will continue on as a great politician.