Early Elections SabreRattling: a Non Sequitur

di Joe Volpe del 20 August 2018

TORONTO - The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is raising the flag, so to speak, to see if anyone salutes. Using several Ottawa based members of the Press Gallery, the PMO is testing out the acceptance of an early federal election. It would be a ridiculous proposal fifteen months ahead of a scheduled election call. Nonetheless, the theme (an empty one at that) of “strengthening the government’s hand” with a renewed mandate from the people may strike some as appealing. It is anything but. The purpose, presumably, is to show President Trump, Premier Ford, the Saudis and recalcitrant Europeans on the Comprehensive European Trade Agreement (CETA) that Prime Minister Trudeau has the full backing and confidence of the Canadian people. Unnecessary, unless some doubts have been expressed by “adversaries”. If so, why draw attention to Canada’s weak and dependent position on Continental trade with its partners in North America? The President of the USA would not appear to care a “tinker’s dam” about Canadian concerns. In fact, he is aggressively dismissive and downright rude towards a fellow International Statesman, our Prime Minister. How an election, based on the simple pretext of showing that Prime Minister Trudeau has the confidence of his elector ate would help correct this may be a questionable tactic. At the very least, it would invite interference by Trump to weaken his standing. And Trudeau’s Liberals are unlikely to increase the number of seats they currently hold. Nor would a reconfirmation of a Liber al government improve Canada’s standing with the European countries on CETA. That Agreement will not be ratified anytime soon, especially since one of its major partners Italy has said it is not interested. Trade between the two countries has been on a downward slide since 2015. Besides, Europeans are increasingly consumed by the events emanating from the greater Middle East, North Africa and Russia. Saudi Arabia has just thumbed its nose at Canada. India’s government similarly indicated a diplomatic snub at the Prime Minister’s disastrous India visit. Domestically, the Prime Minister is facing mounting pressures from the Aborig inal Communities, governments in Western Canada, downright hostility from the Conservative government at Queen’s Park and predictable antagonism from Quebec’s soontobe new government. It’s a tough country to govern. Doubly so, if the main achievements are measured in steps forward only on a “progressive agenda”. Ask Kathleen Wynne. An election, in such an environment, will merely serve to draw attention, during the ensuing public debate that “all is not well in Camelot”. Why go there, when one should shore up “traditional areas of support” ... unless these too are shrinking.

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