By Kirk Winter

Halfway through the election campaign of 2019, it has become clear to many Canadian voters that some of our federal leaders are badly flawed individuals, who are all too human and affected by the same vices and failings that impact your average Canadian voter.

It has been stunning to see in the first 20 days of the campaign, mind-numbing gaffs made by the Liberals, Conservatives, Green Party and People’s Party, with the NDP still trying to play damage control on the personal baggage brought to the party by their new leader in 2017.

The Liberals were gobsmacked when a picture of their leader in brown face was made public early in the second week of the campaign. Those were added to at least two pictures of the Prime Minister in black face in his youth. Trudeau had to know that those pictures existed, and despite the fact that no one has suggested that the Liberal leader used the theatrical make up to demean the group he was portraying, these incidents are just plain bad for the Liberal brand. Local Liberals are holding their breath to see what other “damage” gets dropped as the campaign enters its closing days after Thanksgiving.

The Conservatives under Andrew Scheer, who gleefully benefitted from the Liberal brown face scandal, now have one of their own that makes one question the honesty and veracity of their leader. Scheer has long claimed to be a licensed insurance broker before entering politics, giving his CV a little bit of business sheen so important to leading the Conservative Party. The Globe and Mail reported that Sheer only completed one of the four training modules for the insurance brokers course, and in actuality was a clerk in that said insurance office and was responsible for selling license plates. In any workplace where I have been employed, falsifying your resume is a fireable offence, and certainly not the stuff that a future Prime Minister is made of.

John Dean, the lawyer to Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, once said that, “the cover up is often worse than the crime.” Elizabeth May, leader of the environmentally sensitive Green Party is now finding this out. May was seen holding a single-use plastic cup at a public event. When Green staffers at the event discovered the massive faux pas, they proceeded to photoshop out the offending cup in all their media releases covering that day, forgetting that they could not control how the mainstream media would report on the offending cup. Media footage beyond the reach of the Green campaign existed of the leader and her cup, and media, particularly on the political right, skewered the Green leader as a hypocrite for days after, labelling the initial event and the failed cover up “Cupgate.”

Not to be outdone, People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier decided to vent his climate denying spleen on 16-year old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg. Bernier could have parried Thunberg’s message using his “alternative facts” on this issue, and most following his campaign would have rolled their eyes and ignored Bernier’s inane comments as more of his “claptrap” on climate change. Instead, Bernier attacked Thunberg on a personal basis, focusing on the young woman’s autism. Bernier started to toss around terms like “mentally ill” in his refutation of Thunberg, showing how little he knows about not only climate change, but autism. Bernier came across as a crank and a bully, and that is not the look a new party needed early in its first national campaign.

Jagmeet Singh has so far managed to avoid a head-slapping moment in this current campaign. As a long-time defender of Sikh separatists and the right of self-determination for Sikhs in India, many traditional NDP voters across the country are having a problem warming to Singh. Singh’s support of Sikh separatism in India has played particularly poorly in the NDP power base of Quebec, where most NDP voters are staunch federalists and opponents of the separatist Bloc Quebecois. Singh`s recent marriage to a woman 11 years his junior has also raised eyes among NDP loyalists, who have long championed the feminist cause in Canada. Singh has refused to address directly whether the marriage was arranged, and that also rankles a party built on the pillars of equality between the sexes and egalitarianism in all relationships. Some insiders say that the leader must model the behaviour and the platform that the party advocates, and some question if Singh is doing that.

With less than three weeks to go, what a choice we have: the man who likes to play dress up, the man who lied about his resume, the woman who undercut her entire movement with a single photo-op, a man who bullies children, or a man who apparently does not practice what his party preaches. Canada deserves better.

PoliticsDeb Crossen