Opinion | Justin Trudeau bets you want more changes. Erin O’Toole is sure not

In a week, Canadians should know if they have had elections about change or stability.

It’s one of the most fundamental questions in any election campaign, but the pandemic has made it incredibly difficult in 2021, especially for liberal leader Justin Trudeau and conservative leader Erin O’Toole.

If it were an election held in normal times, the choice of the stability of change would be simple: O’Toole would be the agent of change and Trudeau, after six years in power, would be the one to stay on course.

But we are in 2021 and the country is in the middle of an electoral campaign during the COVID-19 era.

So Trudeau has spent a lot of time talking about how he needs a mandate for a big post-pandemic change. “Really big changes, coming in the coming weeks and months,” the liberal leader reiterated on Monday.

Meanwhile, O’Toole has presented his campaign as the safe and “safe” place for Canadians who have had too many changes in their lives in the last year and a half. The conservative speech to voters is called a “recovery plan,” which in itself is a guarantee that life can return to normalcy and stability.

It’s no wonder, then, that the outcome of this strange campaign remains up in the air with less than a week to go. What does change or stability mean when the most important change Canadians yearn for is the end of the pandemic and no one can even remember what stability looks like?

On Monday, O’Toole veered more sharply into the change lane, launching an all-out attack on Trudeau’s character and arguing that the country needs a complete break with him and the liberals.

“I’m a new leader,” said O’Toole, who likes to mention that these days. Canadians deserve better than a leader concerned only with his own power. But this is a pattern, day after day, month after month, year after year. The only thing he and the Liberal Party prioritize is his own survival, more of the same spending and debt, $ 424 million a day, with more of the same on the way, more of the same corruption. ”

The issue of “change” is impossible to ignore.

Similarly, when Trudeau sat down with Star’s editorial board last Friday, he spoke about how voters yearned for stability.

“People are not very excited about the change, with more interruptions,” Trudeau said. “They just want things to get back to normal. They want to know that there is stability. They want to know that we are taking the lessons from the crisis of this pandemic and applying them to the other crises, be it the climate crisis, the housing crisis, reconciliation.

The problem for Trudeau, however, is that his leadership and legacy have been entangled with all the turmoil Canadians have seen in their lives over the past six years.

The Liberal leader took office in 2015 promising to be a disruptor, by the way, in an election fueled by change. But the past six years have been more disturbing than he or his liberals would have predicted, from the election of Donald Trump to a global pandemic.

Frankly, Canadians don’t know what a stable Trudeau government would look like, given that most of their time in office was spent reacting to existential crises.

Hence the conservatives’ surely not accidental emphasis on safety throughout their platform – called “Securing the Future” – and their portrayal of O’Toole as a stable father from the suburbs who will reduce drama in Ottawa led by the liberals.

Many times in the past, it has not been difficult to define elections as change or stability.

The 2015 campaign, as mentioned, had to do with the turnaround of Stephen Harper’s nine years. The 2011 elections, after the global economic collapse of 2008-09, were all about stability. Harper spent day after day in the election campaign in 2011 blatantly calling for a “strong and stable conservative majority.”

Trudeau, much to the bewilderment of many observers, has not been as clear or unapologetic about his desire for a majority. Why not say it, like Harper did in 2011? Why not go for predictability in an age of unpredictability?

Perhaps the Liberal leader will make that argument in the final days of the campaign, especially if polls show O’Toole’s vision for change doesn’t fit with what voters in swing and crucial districts see as a “secure future.”

No one will really know until after the votes are counted on September 20 if this pandemic election will find Canadians eager for change or stability. Or maybe that will remain a mystery. After 18 months of massive turmoil in the lives of Canadians, no one can be blamed for being equally wary of choosing between a major change in course or keeping things the same.


The conversations are the opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of conduct. The Star does not endorse these views.


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