Friday September 17, 2021 1:00 pm

The Front Page

Scarborough Farmers Market, Oakridge; is the place to be on a colourful summer afternoon. Held every Thursday in Oakridge Park, 3459 Danforth Ave. from June through to October 7, 3:30 - 7:30pm. A young woman (who wished to remain annonymous) chooses some delicious farm fresh vegetables for dinner.

Political Déjà Vu… ~ Opinion

By Bret Snider
The definition of Dé·jà vu is: “A feeling of having already experienced the present situation.”
Watching Justin Trudeau call an unnecessary summer election in the middle of a worldwide pandemic reminds me of another Liberal leader who did something similar. It was David Peterson in the summer of 1990. At that time the economy was in a downward spiral, the Meech Lake Accord (an attempt to get Quebec to sign the constitution) had failed, a Liberal fundraiser named Patti Starr had embroiled the Government in scandal by making illegal contributions to Federal, Provincial and Municipal Liberal politicians and the NDP was propping up the Ontario Liberal government. Is this sounding familiar?
Peterson had formed a political coalition with the NDP and its then leader Bob Rae to defeat the PC minority government of Frank Miller in 1985. Now its Jagmeet Singh as leader of the federal NDP who has been propping up Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government. In the 1990 example – two years after winning a minority government, Peterson called an election and was given a majority government by Ontario voters. Three years into that mandate, with favourable polling data as the wind in his sails, he called a snap election in the summer. However, that didn’t turn out so well. Voters saw it as opportunism and elected the first and only ever NDP government in Ontario history resulting with Bob Rae as Premier.
Rae’s administration lasted a full five years and was arguably one of the most unpopular governments in Ontario history. He inherited a recession left over from the profligate spending of the previous Peterson government and decided to spend their way out of the problem. Through the process they also forced unionized government employees to accept a wage freeze and take unpaid days of leave which became known as “Rae Days.” Subsequently he switched parties and became a federal Liberal.
Justin Trudeau’s decision is political déjà vu or should be for voters in Ontario. Other than the perception that his Conservative and NDP opponents may appear weak and or disorganized there is no justification for an election. Politics should be a higher calling rather than just about staying in office. The current administration has faced more ethics scandals and rebukes than any Government in recent memory.
First, Mary Dawson, then Canada’s Ethics Commissioner, judged that Trudeau (version 2) had broken the rules in 2016 by accepting a trip to the Aga Khan’s private Caribbean Island for Justin and his family. Second, the current Ethics Commissioner, Mario Dion, determined that the Prime Minister had tried to influence former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to overrule a decision not to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to SNC-Lavalin who was accused of fraud and corruption. Strike three was the “WE” scandal when the Government awarded 900 million dollars of taxpayer money, in an untendered bid, to the Keilburger brothers’ “charity” who also has for profit organizational wings.
In that case, note that the “Charity” had also paid over a quarter of a million dollars to two members of the Trudeau family (his mother, Margaret, received $250,000 and his brother Alexandre received $32,000), both for speaking engagements and Trudeau and his wife Sophie also appeared at various “WE” events. To bring it closer to home, two of WE’s founders, Craig and Marc Keilburger live in South Scarborough. For more detail on this visit: “The We Charity scandal” https://thebigstorypodcast.ca/2020/07/07/what-happened-to-the-liberals-we-charity-deal/.
No governments are ever perfect. Political parties are run by people, and we are all flawed and sometimes make bad decisions or choices based on expediency or perceived short-term advantage. It doesn’t matter which team is in power. Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats have all erred at times. But democracy is a privilege and a responsibility and should never be taken for granted and governments should treat voters with respect.
In 1989 I was asked to be a United Nations election supervisor to facilitate the first free and fair election in Namibia. Before that, the former German colony had been left to South Africa that had treated it as a province, but the non-white population had never been given the right to vote.
Canada sent fifty supervisors, one hundred RCMP officers and two hundred and fifty soldiers to aid the process. When we arrived at our polling station, I was shocked to see over a thousand people in line waiting to vote. Seventy-four people died on that mission to make that election happen. It left a lasting impression and I often think about it when I hear people complaining about politics and the inconvenience of elections.
Even though this election may have been called for the wrong reasons, its our time to choose. Let’s make sure to exercise our right but keep in mind the consequences.
Toronto, CA
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