Don’t let US politics distract from what’s going on at home
By Bex Peterson, Editor-in-Chief
Despite living in Canada, my newsfeed, Twitter feed, Facebook feed, and in-person conversations are saturated with US politics—and for good reason. Canadians have long been fascinated by the state of the States, even before the 24/7 trash fire of the current administration. I can’t help but wonder, however, if this focus on what’s happening south of the border isn’t distracting folks from more localized concerns.
Concerns such as, “We have a federal election in October, and no one seems to be talking about it.”
One of the features of the Canadian electoral system that I appreciate is our short campaigning season. While Americans are already girding their loins for next year’s November election, Canadians likely won’t see campaign bombardment until September—the month before the election. It’s not a lot of time for political messaging to soak into the public consciousness, and it doesn’t build to the same kind of feverish spectacle that US elections often become. I’m personally of the opinion that politics and spectacle should not go hand-in-hand, but the downside of a more pragmatic system is that it’s hard to build public interest.
A lot of Canadians I know have detailed and informed opinions about the current front-runners for Democratic leadership, the pros and cons of Sanders versus Warren versus Harris, so on and so forth. Ask those same Canadians for opinions on our own federal leaders (never mind their local candidates) and you’re likely to watch that passion fizzle right out.
I’m not asking for Canadians to get excited about politics. Politics can be incredibly boring, even if the ramifications aren’t. However, I think it’s not too much to ask that people at least try to care, especially coming into this federal election season. When Trump was elected, I heard a lot of Canadians state with worrying certainty that something like that would never happen here. Then Ford took Ontario and Kenney took Alberta, and though it’s been proven time and time again that Canada is not exempt from supporting administrations that are comfortable rolling back on human rights protections and social programs there is still this kind of national faith that Canada is, at the very least, too boring to do anything really messed up. This just isn’t the case, and we need to stop relying on our own disinterest in the mechanics of Parliament Hill to save us.
If Canadians are looking for a homegrown spectacle, we’ve laid the table for an ugly election season this fall. Despite actively denouncing white supremacy back in April, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has spent a good portion of his political career finding himself associated with people who spout white nationalist talking points, including appearing on well-known white nationalist Faith Goldy’s talk show back in 2017. Faith Goldy is one of several Canadian alt-right personalities who support the “white replacement” theory that the New Zealand mosque shooter cited as his motivation for killing over 50 people in Christchurch this year.
Meanwhile, the Liberals have been leaking support from both sides of the centrist spectrum due to broken promises and embarrassing political scandals. If Trudeau manages a second term, it will be by the skin of his teeth. In these situations, popular NDP support tends to split the left vote, leaving the Conservatives free to run off with the house. Right-wing voters might be split between Scheer’s coded views and the more overt politics of Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada, but I don’t know if we want to be hoping that there’s a significant population of Canadians willing to support Bernier’s platform of anti-immigration and building border fences.
At the end of the day, I’m just worried that this election season is going to sneak up on Canadians. Our politics might not be as outrageous or bombastic as the US’s, but they do matter. If we’re not careful, things might just get interesting around here… and there’s a reason the phrase “May you live in interesting times” is considered a curse.