We’re closing in on the end of the second week of the 44th general election campaign and things continue to get tighter in the race. The Conservatives and NDP are on the rise, the Liberals are slumping, and this supposed easy march to a Liberal majority government has turned into anything but. It turns out that maybe some of us were right that calling a snap election in the middle of a pandemic was a bad idea. Who knew?
In the meantime, the campaign continues apace, and the Liberals are starting to get more and more desperate in their attempts to turn this thing around. They’re throwing a lot of wild attacks out there and I expect that will continue right until election day. But what’s interesting to this point is that those attacks don’t seem to be landing like they used to, as polls keep showing us that Justin Trudeau’s personal brand and trust in him are cratering as NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s rise. Just last week a poll from IPSOS for Global News showed that 44% of those surveyed felt that Trudeau will say anything to get elected, while 36% also said he has a hidden agenda.
It’s hard to convince people to by your Chicken Little “the sky is falling” rhetoric if people don’t believe you or trust you. That is a big problem the Liberals are currently facing, and it seems that they don’t have an answer to it yet. They are trying to invoke all the boogeymen that they can and drive those wedges as deep and hard as they can, trying to shake something loose. Yet in doing so, it keeps falling flat because of these impressions out there. A prime example of this played out this morning in Mississauga, as the Liberals announced money to support the provinces in making COVID vaccination passports happen. Here is what played out, in two parts:
On one hand, Justin Trudeau goes after Ontario Premier Doug Ford for refusing to do is part in making COVID vaccinations passports happen in the province. To be fair, Ford is failing on this front and is doing his best to duck and hide from making any decision to make this happen, so I have no problem with him getting called out for that failure. But it’s what comes right after that which bothers me and highlights the Liberals big problem. In the next breath, Trudeau goes onto state that “keeping you safe, that’s my top priority”, said with his usual flourish and body language. He’s the Prime Minister, he should be caring about that, right? But wouldn’t doing that involve following the bloody COVID safety measures in the province where you are? You’d think so yet here is some more context to that event, and a question precisely on that:
Yep, look at that. The room inside the event is packed, clearly beyond the capacity allowed under Ontario’s public health rules. And when Trudeau is asked directly about this contradiction of public health rules, what does he reply? He sidesteps the question, ducks it and refuses to answer something that should be really straight forward. And if you aren’t clear on the expectations of Liberal candidates in this campaign when it comes to COVID measures, here is what a senior Liberal campaign official assured Twitter about just two weeks ago:
“We’re expecting that all candidates representing the Liberal Party will follow public health guidelines”, that’s what they said. Yet there is Justin Trudeau, doing the polar opposite of “following public health guidelines”, while at the same time he’s chiding Doug Ford for not doing his part on this part of the fight against COVID. Remember how he said that “keeping you safe, that’s his top priority”? Well it appears that the same doesn’t apply to the campaign trail because instead of ensuring that everyone around them today were being kept safe, we saw that.
That’s hypocritical to say the least, attacking other parties on this topic while at the same time appearing to be guilty of the same, while you’re making that attack. Refusing to answer the legitimate questions about that contradiction is just the cherry on the top of this crap sundae. And that doesn’t even factor in the fact that Liberal Party has said explicitly that they are “expecting that all candidates representing the Liberal Party will follow public health guidelines.” You’d think that would also apply to the Leader of the Liberal Party, but after that sight today, clearly not.
It’s precisely that kind of display that feeds into peoples’ thoughts that Justin Trudeau will say anything to get elected and builds more mistrust in him. It’s a clear example of selected application of the rules. One set for you, another for me. Doing that with any normal issue would be bad enough, but doing that with the fight against this pandemic? That’s bound to grate against people that much more. People fumed and raged when Doug Ford broke COVID public health rules last summer when he was going to his cottage, going to his mom’s house to bake cheesecakes and such. And people were right to be upset about it. So what exactly is different about this situation? Both involved a political leader breaking the rules to suit their immediate personal and/or political needs. Both set a bad example. The only difference is that one did it in the middle of an election campaign, a moment when they are looking for the greatest personal & political gain.
In my mind, it’s more than fair to criticize Trudeau here for not only holding the event like that, but refusing to answer such a basic, legit question. It’s a bad example for the Liberals to set, but at the same time it’s a prime example of the problem they face. The fact is that people don’t trust this Liberal leader like they used to, they don’t like the duplicity and double-standards, and with everything that’s going on with COVID, people just don’t have the patience to put up with that crap like they might normally. How do the Liberals fix this? I’m not sure if they can during this campaign at this point. But one thing that’s clear is that continuing down the path of this same strategy appears to be a failed approach, one that will just continue to exacerbate the Liberals problems the longer it happens. Will they change course, or will they continue to double down? Time will tell but it’s clear that things aren’t going the way they had hoped when they called this snap campaign and as much as they try to blame others, they really have no one else to blame but themselves for the mess that they find themselves in.