Well, the 44th federal election is behind us, and things aren’t that different. Did we go through that process and learn nothing? Maybe, maybe not. We will see how Parliament plays out upon its return. I expect we won’t be hearing the last of one of the biggest issues on the campaign trail: the fact that there was even an election in the first place.
It’s likely that the Trudeau government will re-enter the House of Commons with its hat in its hand, ready to face regular Question Period verbal lashings from all sides of the opposition about his ill-advised decision to send Canadians to the polls.
In the meantime, here at rabble we’re unpacking this election one story at a time. Today on the show, I meet up with Joyce Arthur, the executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada who is also a rabble columnist. You’ll hear that conversation in just a moment, after which I’ll take you through the stories of the week you might have missed. Maybe the election coverage was just too overwhelming, and you’re taking a break from political news, or maybe you’ve been so oversaturated with post-election analysis you missed what was going on at rabble. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered.
ACCESS TO ABORTION
This week, I’m joined by a special guest to talk about why on earth Canadian politicians are still making abortion an election issue. It’s like clockwork, really. Will it ever be put to bed? How much influence does the deterioration of abortion rights in the United States have on abortion rights here? And, what’s next in the fight for increasing access to abortion? Here’s my conversation with Joyce Arthur. In case you are wondering about the banging in the background, that’s just some construction noise.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
This week at rabble, the anticlimactic results of Monday’s election left us wondering, what is up with Parliament? What is up with our electoral system? And, what is up with the People’s Party of Canada gaining nearly 850,000 votes?
Senior political reporter Karl Nerenberg weighed in on Elections Canada’s decision to have fewer polls this year — including not running its Vote on Campus program for students staying outside of their riding to attend school. We’re lucky, in Canada, to have an arm’s-length, independent organization like Elections Canada running our elections, he writes, rather than partisans getting involved as they do in the U.S. However, it was a short snap election, and Elections Canada did have little time to prepare. This led to long line-ups at the polls on election night, low voter turnout, and a lack of special ballots actually being delivered to those who requested them.
The truth is, writes Nerenberg, that the Trudeau government decided to call an election in the midst of a pandemic knowing full well that campaigning and voting would be more difficult than in normal times.
This, despite the fact that Elections Canada had previously signalled to the government that if an early vote were to happen, they would prefer a somewhat longer campaign. Justin Trudeau ignored that request and chose the shortest campaign possible under the law: 36 days.
The fact that this is the second minority government in a row, with the results eerily similar to those in 2019, has once again re-opened discussion about electoral reform. Just before election day, Trudeau said he would be open to considering a ranked ballot system, but not proportional representation.
Ole Hendrickson argues that the low voter turnout for this year’s election indicates that all is not well with democracy in Canada. We need a thoughtful and detailed study of alternative electoral systems, he writes.
Hendrickson speculates that it might also give way for a progressive environmental agenda at Parliament. On the flip side of the coin, some are concerned that a proportional representation electoral system would give more power to far-right fringe parties, like the People’s Party of Canada.
Speaking of the PPC, Shira Lurie, an historian of American politics at Saint Mary’s University, writes that Canada had better heed the warning bells that ring loudly from across the border. The siege on Capitol Hill on January 6 to contest the 2020 American election should not be pushed aside here in Canada. “We are starting to feel the tremors of a shifting political climate here at home; one in which lies and conspiracy theories radicalize the discontented and sew distrust in our political institutions and processes. How long before those targeting campaign stops decide instead to terrorize polling places? The House of Commons?” she asks.
Maxime Bernier did, in fact allege voter fraud on Twitter early in the campaign, and after the election, was restricted by Twitter for 12 hours for putting the emails of journalists who were attempting to cover his campaign on Twitter, accusing them of “disgusting smear jobs,” and telling his supporters to “play dirty.”
Stay tuned for more of our special election coverage next week, where of course, we will be diving deep into analysis of the results and what it all means for you. If you like the show please consider subscribing wherever you listen to your podcasts. Rate, review, send it to a friend – you know the drill. Follow us on social media, @rabbleca on both Instagram and Twitter.
Catch more of our election coverage at rabble.ca.
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THE MUSICAL QUESTION
Oh, and the music for this podcast? It’s the jazz stylings of our political boffin, Karl Nerenberg.