October 21 resolved nothing. In fact Canada’s federal election confirmed, in the grand scheme of governance, that history may be in the early throes of repeating itself.
Let’s back up to 2004.
Following a third consecutive Jean Chretien-led Liberal majority win in 2000, the words Adscam and Sponsorgate commanded national headlines as Canadians became increasingly aware of scandalous misspending by the federal Liberals in connection to a federal government program designed to strengthen Ottawa’s profile in Quebec.
A battle for control of the party ensued with chief rivals Chretien and his Minister of Finance Paul Martin. The war spilled into mainstreet Canada, eventually resulting in a December 2003 early departure from parliament by Chretien and ascension to the PMO by Martin.
Following the 2004 election staring across the parliamentary aisle were Prime Minister Paul Martin and his Liberal now minority government and Conservative opposition leader Stephen Harper.
The scene repeated itself in 2006, though following that year’s vote with roles reversed. Conservative Party Prime Minister Harper and his minority government was set to duel with Liberal opposition leader Martin. Not for long.
The Liberals jettisoned Martin, considering him post-Sponsorgate damaged goods and following a clumsy convention emerged with a board-stiff Stephane Dion to guide party fortunes. Straight into the 2008 election.
The script was by now familiar. Down went Liberals, a leadership convention ensued and Michael Ignatieff scooped up the Liberal banner.
It would get worse for the Liberals, before it got better.
After the dust settled following the 2011 election, not only had the Liberals lost again and once more to Stephen Harper and a now CPC majority , Liberal fortunes were demolished. Ignatieff lost his own seat, the party was dispatched to the parliamentary gulag with a dismal 34 seats and third place status behind the brand new official opposition NDP led by an effervescent Jack Layton.
Another Liberal Party leadership selection process. This time though it was Justin Trudeau who was charged with stewarding the LPC in its return to prominence. And Trudeau did exactly that in 2015. After four unsuccessful attempts the Liberals under Justin Trudeau defeated Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. This time it would be Harper who would exit Canada’s parliament.
The initial four years of Justin Trudeau’s primacy in parliament should have set Trudeau up for the familiar 21st Century Liberal script. Election loss and goodbye. Should have. After all there were and remain sufficient disturbing developments emanating from the PMO to have caused any political opposition to salivate at the prospect of an election campaign.
Say interference with Canada’s former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould from performing her sworn duties, likely to be under post-election RCMP scrutiny, declarations of ethics violations, conflict of interest violations, Trudeau’s appearances in black face and brown face, cruel mistreatment of Canada’s former Military Second-in-Command Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, including a Prime Minister petulantly speculating the Admiral may see the inside of a Canadian courtroom, thereby arguably compromising Norman’s rights, the embarrassment of a week-long India trip, feeding into Western Canadian alienation and more.
The Conservatives under Andrew Scheer though managed to bungle their campaign and even though and so, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals emerged from October 21 reduced from a very solid majority to minority government with 27 seats lost, more than a million votes lost, the lowest percentage of popular vote for any party assuming governance in the history of Canada, not one Liberal elected in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The Conservative Party will almost certainly engineer the removal of Andrew Scheer as leader and it is by no means a given the Liberals will want to follow Justin Trudeau, scandal and embarrassment into the next election.
History may well be preparing to repeat itself.