While the US just had a tsunami of an election, the Canadian political waters remain calm—for now.
One could compare the two most recent scandals in our two countries’ political scenes—Drumpf’s bombshell Access Hollywood tape, versus “Fartgate,” when Conservative MP Michelle Rempel compared Justin Trudeau’s treatment of Alberta to how one would treat “a fart in the room”. Our political landscape are quiet plains compared to the windy cliffs south of the border.
However, storm clouds are gathering on the horizon. The two major opposition parties, the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party, both have vacant leadership positions, and both have leadership elections scheduled for 2017. The Conservatives right now have 12 registered candidates, who barely fit on a stage for a leadership debate. The New Democrats have zero candidates so far.
The Tories are currently a broad church of unknowns and know-nothings. Five from Ontario, two from Quebec, four from the Prairies, and one from BC.
Maxime Bernier, an MP nicknamed “Mad Max” by colleagues, is a 53 year old who, for some reason, is still a Libertarian. He believes in marijuana legalization, does not support war, wants to defund the CBC, and thinks subsidies are stupid. He loves freedom more than a warm day in Quebec and wants everyone to Feel the Bernier.
Saskatchewan MPs Andrew Scheer and Brad Trost are the typical social conservatives. Conservative Christians who care about freedom, like the freedom of gays to not marry, the freedom of women to not to have an abortion, and the freedom of terminally ill patients to not die with dignity, but instead, die in lengthened agony. The difference between the two is that Trost wants to reopen the debates while Scheer thinks that most of them are over (which they are, some for over a decade).
Then there is Kellie Leitch, who has run as a Canadian Drumpf-lite. “I have common interests with [Donald] Drumpf, screening being one of them,” said Leitch. She is currently leading the race at 19% support. She has run her campaign against “left-wing media elites” like the CBC, which she wants to dismantle, and on her platform to screen every immigrant one-by-one, as well as to ban those who hold anti-Canadian values (also known as Muslims).
Long-serving MPs Michael Chong and Deepak Obhrai are also in the running. They both slammed Leitch for her dog-whistle rhetoric and fellow hopeful Steven Blaney for his niqab ban proposal. The both have long been seen as moderates in the Conservative Party. Chong even voted for assisted dying, which could make the death of the Conservative Party a lot quicker.
And then Canada has medium-rare remains of the former Opposition that is the New Democratic Party. The party ousted Tom Mulcair as their leader during their April 2016 Convention in Edmonton after a devastating loss in the 2015 general election. The latest Abacus Data poll shows the NDP at 17%, the highest they’re polled since April.
While the Tories are the party that a dozen nobodies want to take over, the NDP is the party that literally nobody wants to take over. No serious candidate has yet to even announce their candidacy after half a year.
However, two MPs have resigned their positions within the Parliamentary party to explore a possible leadership run. Specifically, two 54-year-old aging white men with glasses who have been MPs since 2004.
Peter Julian is currently the MP for New Westminster—Burnaby and has, perhaps, the longest résumé of any NDP MP: former NDP House Leader, former Leader of the Opposition in the house, twice a shadow minister, many times an NDP critic in the House, former executive director of the Council of Canadians, and is fluent in French, English and sign language.
Charlie Angus is currently the MP for Timmins—James Bay, former punk rock musician, former NDP critic for Indigenous and Northern Affairs and former Caucus Chair. He is from the Christian-left wing of the NDP, and rose to prominence in 2005 after his support of same-sex marriage led to him being denied holy communion and bringing attention to the Kashechewan E. Coli crisis. “If there is an art to being an opposition member of parliament, it’s to be found at the intersection of policy wonkery and partisan acrimony. Charlie Angus lives at that crossroads,” wrote MacLean’s in their 2012 political power rankings.
Two-thirds of Canadian politics are currently a heaping pile of ash from the remains of the two casualties of the 2015 election. But when the dust settles in 2017, one can expect two strong and re-invigorated opposition parties to take it to the Trudeau Liberals, or maybe just one if the NDP never chooses a leader.