It’s a couple days after the election, but I’m afraid the bitter taste from one of the most divisive campaigns in recent memory has still not left many Canadians. Even if you were pleased that Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were re-elected with a minority government, you have to wonder just how he will unite our country.
Speculation of a Western separation has been reignited following the election. Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives swept Alberta and Saskatchewan with 47 out of 48 possible seats. “Wexit” is trending on social media and Western alienation is dominating discussion at Canadian news agencies.
It might be safe to say that the wedge driving these Prairie Provinces has reached an even greater height than when the late Pierre Trudeau was in office in 1980 with the National Energy Program. In 2019, with oil prices down significantly from the golden age of the early 2010s, and with an already unclear future for the Trans Mountain expansion, skepticism of Ottawa’s interest in Western Canada may keep growing.
Alberta isn’t the only province that feels like their voice isn’t being heard in Parliament; the surge of the Bloc Quebecois also raises concerns for renewed talks of a Quebec exit as well.
All this to say, the beginning of the Liberal leader’s second term as Prime Minister has a far different tone than the wave of “Trudeaumania” he rode into Ottawa back in 2015. There was a sense of hope four years ago, not just within our borders, but around the world. I recall going on a walking tour in Copenhagen, Denmark shortly after Trudeau was elected, and when the tour guide found out I was Canadian, he was quick to blurt out statements like ‘international icon’ and, ‘prettiest head of State’.
In 2015 our Prime Minister bolstered our country’s image with an almost celebrity-like status, which included helping mend previously poorer relations with the United Nations. However, in 2019 rather than dealing with the external, Trudeau is tasked with preventing an internal crises from erupting in Canada.
Perhaps the lack of representation from Alberta and Saskatchewan will compel Trudeau to invite non-Liberal MPs from these regions into his Cabinet. Maybe he'll even welcome back Independent MP, and former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould (Now that would be something). Regardless, the Prime Minister's Cabinet selections on November 20 will be one way for him to demonstrate solidarity.
Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister famously united the country with construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Over the last four years, to Trudeau’s credit he has helped reconcile several relationships with Canada’s Indigenous, a group of people that Macdonald has recently come under fire for his he mistreated them.
For the next four (or less) years, rather than just trying to tweak Macdonald’s actions, it would be wise for Trudeau to learn from some of them too. Macdonald not only spearheaded building the CPR, but he was also the mastermind behind the British North America Act; this is what united three British colonies into the Dominion of Canada we have today.
There are several months before the next Dominion Day or before the Toronto Raptors have another opportunity to play for an NBA Championship. Until then its Trudeau’s turn to reunite the country, and its up to us to be part of that solution.