For the last couple of days most Canadian political observers have had their eyes firmly fixed on the goings on in Ottawa, and rightfully so. It’s been a crazy 48 hours for sure and a lot has happened; from the sudden resignation of Bill Morneau, to the naming of Chrystia Freeland to replace him, to the Prime Minister proroguing the House under circumstances that are questionable to put it kindly and right up to this morning with the Canadian Press reporting that there was more smoke come from the burning tire fire that is the WE Scandal, further proving it surely not a “nothingburger”.
Yeah, it’s been a lot to take in and digest. It has felt a lot like trying to drink from a raging fire hose, but to be fair, a lot of 2020 has felt that way. So while it’s difficult to keep up with everything that’s going on in these moments, it’s quite on brand for this goofy year that just keeps getting goofier. With that in mind, I wanted to take this chance to change the channel slightly and take a quick look back at a few important stories that have managed to fly under our political radar in these past 48 hours.
We’ll start in New Brunswick and the first week of the snap provincial election that was called. Its an election that few wanted yet here they are, being the first Canadian jurisdiction to run a full general election in the middle of this pandemic. As a result, many Canadians are watching what happens there to get an idea of what the rest of us could expect if there is a Federal election sooner than we thought in these circumstances. But aside from the novelty of being the first COVID-19 general election in Canada, there were a couple similar developments of note that happened that deserve some attention, especially for what it could mean for the actual result of the election itself:
It’s always notable when a party manages to recruit someone of note from another party to run for them. It speaks to some momentum for the new party for that candidate and it equally says something about the party that they left behind. In the case of Robert Gauvin, we already knew about his issues with the outgoing government of the Higgs PC’s, as he left their caucus a while ago. It was a big story at the time because he wasn’t just an MLA leaving, he was the Deputy Premier and Deputy Leader of his party. He wasn’t a nobody in all of this. But all this time he had stayed as an independent and hadn’t taken a step in another direction. For him to go to the Liberals, the only other party with a true chance of forming government in this election, sends a strong message to the electorate. It’s a coup for the Vickers Liberals and not the best sign for the Blue team.
And that wasn’t the end of the good news for the Liberals on this front. They also have recruited Phil Comeau, the President of Paramedic Association of New Brunswick to run for the red team in Saint John East. Healthcare cuts and emergency room closures in rural areas was a controversial issue in the province, the one that lead Gauvin to ditch the PCs, so it would seem natural for Comeau to go Liberal too. But we need to remember that Comeau is not new to running for office, as he ran for the New Democrats in the same riding in 2014. Given the heightened importance of health care in a campaign taking place in a global pandemic, you’d think that would bode well for the NDP to keep a candidate like Comeau in their fold. Yet the state of the New Brunswick NDP is so rough at the moment, Comeau decided to go Liberal instead. For a party that was already facing an uphill battle after essentially being relegated to the 5th party in the province, seeing Comeau bolt right now doesn’t help an already difficult job. We’ll see what that means going forward, as there are a few weeks still go come before New Brunswickers go to the polls. Speaking of polls, the next story takes us to the UK with a poll that really jumped off the pages in these strange times:
Well, well, well, we’re seeing one of the natural impacts of Brexit really start to take hold in Scotland. It’s interesting to see the support of the electorate in Scotland for independence from the UK get into majority territory. It’s not that shocking to see given the fact that a strong majority of Scots voted against Brexit to begin with, but it’s notable as events since the last UK election have done nothing to dampen those feelings. Between the botched negotiations on Brexit itself with Europe, to the UK’s lack luster response to COVID-19 in the early days, Scots have had more and more reason to feel that they would be better to go it alone.
If COVID-19 has done anything in this political period in a lot of places, I think it has focused the minds of a lot of folks to think about the impacts their governments have on their lives and the importance of good governance. Furthermore, I think that it’s really lowered the patience of crap behaviour and crap governing. In the case of Scotland, I think that has pushed more people to seriously consider a step as big as separating from the UK more than they would have before and not out of some newfound sense of nationalism. It seems to be because of seeing the failures of the system they have now in the midst of this crisis, leaving them open to another path. It all may mean nothing in the end, but on most regular days, a poll result like that would get more notice. And to wrap up our review of the things that would normally get more notice, we’ve got a small piece of news from out of Washington that really speaks for itself:
Yeah, nothing big folks, just a bi-partisan report from the Senate saying that Trump colluded with the Russians, a report that actually went deeper and further than the Mueller Report dared. Back in something close to normal times, a story like that would have blown up everyone’s news cycles for days on end. It would be on every news cast, leading every talk radio show, it would be all over. But in these days? Meh…. It got noticed and talked about a bit, but nowhere near to the level that it should have.
The reason for that? Could be fatigue, could be that it just confirmed what we already knew, or it could be because there’s an election in a couple months and folks might be thinking that this nightmare could all be over soon. While I understand those sentiments, this does deserve more attention for one simple reason of note; who wrote the report. Remember just months ago the Republicans in the US Senate almost unanimously shot down impeaching Donald Trump on what Robert Mueller reported. They stood by their man, with many of them supporting Trump’s cries of “hoax”. Yet yesterday many of those same Republicans signed off on a report that not only confirmed what Mueller said, but went even further and harder. That matters yet it has flown completely under the radar.
Maybe it’s all happening too late for it to matter and maybe the damage is already done, but it’s a true sign of our times that such an important report would get drowned out in what passes as a normal news cycle in Trump’s America in 2020. You could say the same for the other two stories as well, as so much is coming at us that we miss some big stories in the rush of news. We’ll see if that continues going forward but it makes sense that it will. 2020 isn’t slowing down any time soon and it looks like we’ve got many more days of drinking from the firehose ahead of us.