Opinion: Federal and provincial decisions around snap elections show the shallowness of political parties

Political parties are self-interest vehicles? Who knew.

Credit: Jagmeet Singh on Twitter

Political parties are self-interest vehicles? Who knew?

Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, you’ve heard lot about political parties acting in the interest of “the people.” Although that was true in the early going, especially when rival parties actually worked together to help Canadians, it’s completely gone out the window less than a year later.

Exhibit A was last month, when the BC NDP under Premier John Horgan announced that they would hold a snap election no one wanted. Their rationalization for that move: a need to “put the politics behind us” and deal with the serious health and economic challenges ahead.

In reality, Horgan and his chief of staff, expert political operative Geoff Meggs, saw two completely unprepared parties across from them in the legislature, mixed it with the party’s own approval rating at an all-time high and took the shot. No chaser. 

It was a political move, plain and simple, and everyone in B.C. knows it. We also know that the BC Liberals probably would have done the same thing. But that shouldn’t excuse it.

Nor should politics excuse the behaviour we saw this week at the federal level. Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party (no relation) labelled a (completely fair) Conservative motion to further investigate the government’s relationship with the WE Charity a non-confidence vote. By doing so, Trudeau dared the other parties to vote for it and trigger an election when it was quite obvious (again) that nobody in Canada actually wanted one.

That allowed the prime minister to claim that his opponents would be forcing an election on Canadians, when in fact it was very much him (and only him) doing that. 

It was a cowardly, shameful move from a Liberal Party that has desecrated its 2015 slogan of “Real Change.” This isn’t change; it’s the same partisan nonsense we’ve seen for years.

Since the Bloc Quebecois and the Conservative Party committed to voting for the investigative committee into WE, the NDP and Leader Jagmeet Singh were left holding the bag, faced with the decision to agree to an election they’d likely get wiped out in or support the Liberals in a motion they otherwise wouldn’t.

Now, I feel for Singh. He was put in the absolute toughest of spots here. “We are voting for Canadians. We are voting against an election,” he said in a conference call explaining his decision to vote with the Liberals.

But where was Singh when his NDP cohort Horgan called an election purely for political reasons? Helping him campaign, actually.

If the beginnings of COVID-19 showed how our politicians could work together as a force for good, this last month has been a master class in how they absolutely won’t.