TORONTO - It’s never easy being Leader, especially when you are inevitably surrounded by people for whom you are, as they say, the most important meal ticket. You can never be sure of their loyalties or their priorities.
With one week to go in the election campaign, some underlying issues have bubbled to the surface that should give Justin Trudeau some cause for concern.
For starters, the Corriere Canadese has been scrupulous – to a fault, some would say – in its objectivity when it comes to covering National and Provincial issues. We pride ourselves in dealing with “issues”. Call it our sensitivity to the perception that we might be more favourable to one Party rather than another. We receive zero dollars from the federal government.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) a recipient of at least $1.7 billion annually in government appropriations does not appear to suffer from the same defect. Or it doesn’t care. When, very early in the campaign, Justin Trudeau declined to participate in an English language debate sponsored by MacLean’s magazine, the CBC “covered his trail” by live broadcasting, nationally a partisan rally out of Winnipeg. A partisan, local rally of interest – maybe – to some 200 local party loyalists.
The CBC is a THE National broadcaster with a mandate to discover and distribute (even propagate) our national identity. Mean-spirited citizens might object that this was a callous dismissal of the nation’s political diversity and its importance to the democratic process. It might even have indicated a whiff of partisanship, since an uncontested Trudeau looked great among an adulating crowd, while debaters sliced and diced each other on a little-watched TV station.
We are not mean-spirited. We are an equal opportunity critic. And we offered to co-host a debate on issues related to the interests of 7.7 million Allophones in Canada, or alternatively to our readership of 1.5 million hardcopy (paid) and 3 million on social media, annually, in Italian.
To the point. The CBC, on Friday last, decided to take the Conservative Party of Canada to Court for a breach of copyright and a journalist’s “moral right” to his/her intellectual property – reading the news. The CPC had used a 17-second montage from a publicly funded debates and interviews as part of its advertising campaign on radio, TV and online social media ads (none with us, unfortunately). The CPC is very much in favour of clipping CBC’s funding.
The message was clear: from CBC’s perspective (maybe supported by their polling) Trudeau had lost the debate and they needed to do everything to stop the hemorrhaging. The early results in publicly available polls did not bear this out, but by Thursday’s French language debate the numbers did not look encouraging.
As of last Saturday night, the Bloc Quebecois was polling at 35% in Quebec and the NDP had experienced a resurgence to 18% across the country – both of them at Liberal expense. Liberal strategists hustled to hold a rally where they thought they could get easily muster crowds: a large swath of constituencies (11) in the Brampton-Mississauga area to the west of Toronto - the private barony of one Navdeep Bains, often referred to as the Deputy Prime Minister from Brampton. His eyes are reputedly laser-focused on Trudeau’s job, and he would welcome any opportunity to put on a good show of strength.
Except that now Jagmeet Singh, whose brother is an NDP MPP from Brampton, has emerged from the debates as the new “King of the Sikhs”; more than an aspiring new Deputy Prime Minister from Brampton, but as the real king maker or Prime Minister. Like Ujjal Dosanj in British Columbia 25 years ago. Jagmeet, in the last two debates said he would only support a Trudeau-led government. Sikhs would have understood the message: you can prefer Trudeau and still vote for Jagmeet. Say goodbye to Bains.
In that vein, Friday night, there were 1000 Portuguese and Italian members of Liuna Local 183 (56,000 total membership base) celebrating 72 young scholarship winners. Ahmed Hussen, Bains’ choice for Immigration Minister, delivered remarks.
The stresses of an election must have caused Ahmed to forget that Trudeau appointed him to the post and that the Liberal leader needs their support. I listened for Justin’s name. It was a polite crowd. I didn’t hear it.
Oddly, Liberal strategists couldn’t find 15 minutes in the Leader’s itinerary to have him drop by. I’m sure he would have been welcome. The Carpenters Local 27 are apparently trying to correct that oversight by offering to sponsor a rally in Vaughan later in the week.