Party leaders Elizabeth May, Green Party; Jagmeet Singh, NDP; Justin Trudeau, Liberals, and Andrew Scheer, Conservatives. Columnist gives props to pollsters who correctly predicted the outcome of the Oct. 21 federal election. (CANADIAN PRESS photos)

Party leaders Elizabeth May, Green Party; Jagmeet Singh, NDP; Justin Trudeau, Liberals, and Andrew Scheer, Conservatives. Columnist gives props to pollsters who correctly predicted the outcome of the Oct. 21 federal election. (CANADIAN PRESS photos)

True north, strong and divided

Glenn Mitchell gives his take on Monday’s federal election results

Well, first and foremost I must apologize to the pollsters.

I love it when they get it wrong so I better acknowledge when they get it right — and boy did they get it right.

It was very close, a minority government and the Liberals made enough gains in the late going to reclaim power.

All I can say is next time they call, lie. You’re not under oath, they have no right to know your political leanings and they’re getting rich off your answers.

Plus it’s so much fun to see them get it wrong and you played a role in that outcome.

If you have trouble lying to pollsters, just watch Donald Trump in action and you’ll see how effortless and effective it can be. Hey, maybe you’ll go into public life yourself, or at least the hospitality industry in New York.

Now the polling industry might be the only winner in the federal election, even though you’d never know it by watching the ‘victory’ speeches Monday night.

I guess the Bloc Quebecois could call themselves winners after they tripled their number of seats and benefited from a lacklustre performance from both the Liberals and the Conservatives.

La belle province likes to stick together in federal elections, a la Jack Layton and the NDP a couple elections back, and this time it’s a separatist party. They win, we lose, and it’s on our dime.

Add in the fact it’s an anti-pipeline party representing a province that’s benefited for decades from transfer payments from oil-producing provinces, and now the ailing West needs help and they say stick it (or whatever that is in French), well, sacre bleu.

Now although Justin Trudeau and the Liberals won, sort of, he sounded like he had once again gained a majority on a wave of Trudeaumania 2.0.

In reality he was probably more just relieved that a brown face here and a black face there hadn’t cost him the election, and that the white face he was up against in Andrew Scheer had just as many missteps along the way and had a terrible last weekend on the campaign trail (which is why last week’s column predicting his victory proved to be so wrong).

Trudeau lost more than 20 seats, along with his majority, was shut out in Alberta and Saskatchewan (which he did acknowledge briefly on election night), lost the popular vote to the Tories and was in many ways lucky to retain the PMO office — he should have come across a little more humble, a lot less earnest and philosophical, and a ton more real.

In fact, if Trudeau wants to survive the next four years he’s going to have to become a better leader for all Canadians, which means listening to more than his buddies in the inner circle, including the West, get the Trans Mountain Pipeline that we own built, and instead of apologizing for everything get stuff accomplished.

As for Scheer, unlike Trudeau, he may not be around in four years. Although in his speech he claimed they would beat the Liberals next time and took some pride in 25 more seats and winning the popular vote overall, that’s a bit like saying “Look ma, I got a participant ribbon.”

This was Scheer’s election to win as the Liberals stumbled badly but he and his campaign didn’t inspire anybody, especially in metro Toronto.

Scheer cemented his party’s status as a regional protest movement, like the BQ, which is where he likely won the popular vote overall as Alberta and Saskatchewan voters punished the Liberals even more than usual.

If the Tories ever want to form government again, they are going to have to do much better in Ontario by moving a little bit to the centre, not have a leader who acts and talks like he has a hidden agenda, basically hook their wagon to someone charismatic like Lisa Raitt, who ironically just lost her seat to a Liberal, although he is an Olympian medallist.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh lost 15 seats and danced like he had won the lottery on election night. Now that’s partly because they could hold the balance of power in a minority government and also because coming into the campaign some predicted the NDP could be wiped off the electoral map if Singh’s earlier performances were any indication.

But Singh rose to the occasion while others faltered on the campaign trail. He connected with Canadians on a personal level. While that didn’t translate into winning more seats, ironically he’s probably the leader with the most job security.

If Singh overperformed, Elizabeth May underperformed as her party’s hopes of double-digit seats ended with a gain of one for a grand total of three seats.

Although a pioneer in Green Party politics, it is time for May to pass the recyclable baton onto the next generation – maybe someone a bit younger, maybe even a millennial, maybe someone named Greta.

Although it may appear that there were plenty of losers on Monday, I applaud all for putting their names forward.

It takes a lot of guts and it makes democracy work for all of us. And that includes the local candidates.

Congratulations to Mel Arnold, as I predicted (that was hard), and let’s hope this new Parliament can work together for all Canadians. One can hope.

Glenn Mitchell is the former editor of The Morning Star

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