Five people stood on the stage in Thursday’s final leadership debate. But six were actually there.
There should have been another podium for former prime minister Stephen Harper considering the number of times Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned his name or alluded to Harper’s alleged and imaginary failings, like this is somehow pertinent to election 2021.
Harper is like an itch Trudeau can’t scratch after six years and two terms (one cut short by this snap election call) as leader of Canada.
He’s also a convenient scapegoat to cast blame on. Canadians are tired of hearing it.
The Liberal government’s failure to meet a single emissions target? Harper’s fault!
To sum up Trudeau’s defense on the abysmal path he’s led Canada down, the failed promises, the ethics violations, the destruction of the Alberta economy, the out-of-control debt, the carbon tax, going after law-abiding gun owners while ignoring weapons in the hands of criminals, creating division, condemning all Canadians as racist, secretive and outrageous COVID-19 spending – it somehow must all be Harper’s fault.
The recent Leger poll where 30% of Canadians said Trudeau’s the federal leader most out-of-touch with ordinary Canadians definitely has to be you-know-who’s fault.
Trudeau was combative, evasive and came across as weak during the debate with Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul.
He heaped more promises to turn Canada into a Utopia onto heaps of past promises he has never kept.
He was under attack for his poor handling of sexual harassment in the military, leaving countless Canadians and Afghan interpreters stranded in Afghanistan when it fell to the Taliban, his negligence in fixing problems in long-term care nursing homes, calling an early election during a pandemic, and not bringing home Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig imprisoned in his beloved China since December 2018.
Moderator Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, interrupted far too much and showed a bias in favour of Trudeau and Blanchet with leading questions. And Canadians didn’t tune in to listen to her little speeches.
Paul, who is at odds with her own party yet hummed a silly ‘let’s all get along’ tune, had one shining moment when she challenged Trudeau who prides himself on being a he-feminist.
“A feminist doesn’t continue to push strong women out of his party when they are just seeking to serve,” she said specifically citing former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, former Health Minister Jane Philpott and MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes.
Trudeau put that little woman in her place by saying he wasn’t about to take caucus lessons from her.
Blanchet cares about Quebec and ensuring the flow of the money it bleeds from the rest of Canada. Period. He admitted he’s not interested in leading Canada. It’s Canada’s good fortune that he never will.
Just about everything Singh peddled should be cause for alarm to Canadians. The NDP stands for the destruction of the natural resource energy sector. His wild spending promises would be disastrous for the country. Other than pledging to “tax billionaires” he offered no insight as to how Canada could afford his empty promises. He’s not experienced enough to lead this country.
The party leaders all pounced on Trudeau’s failures, but none were as polished as O’Toole who came across as most prime ministerial.
“He has great ambition, that’s part of the reason we are in an election in a pandemic – is his ambition. He doesn’t have achievement. He never meets his targets,” said O’Toole.
Trudeau feebly tried to defend his decision to call an election as the Taliban conquered Afghanistan.
“You called an election, sir. You put your own political interest ahead of the well-being of thousands of people. Leadership is about putting others first, not yourself,” said O’Toole.
Of the whole gang, O’Toole is the only one who promoted spending constraints.
And O’Toole is the only one who declared that he’s “proud of and loves” his country. That speaks volumes.
No wonder the polls declared him the winner of the debate.
A distressed Trudeau will probably find a way to blame Harper.
Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
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