I was speaking at a conference in Chicago the day after the U.S. presidential election.
The night before, I'd gone to a bar to celebrate the election of the first female president and Trump’s loss. Or so the polls suggested.
Well ... I was not the only one hungover the next day.
No one I knew believed it could happen.
Believe it. Scheer can win.
Like the Republicans in the U.S., Canada's Conservatives have shown they're willing to play hardball to achieve victory. In recent elections, they were caught robo-calling from a cellphone registered to "Pierre Poutine," giving people wrong information about their polling location. And remember Harper cabinet minister Dean Del Mastro being taken away in handcuffs for “cheating” to win the 2008 election? That happened in 2015, seven years after Del Mastro violated election rules. The list goes on and on. The consequences for cheating seem to be so small and after the fact. They're vastly outweighed by the benefits of playing dirty to win.
Scheer's main promise is to help Canadians "get ahead" through fewer taxes. But Ontario Premier Doug Ford campaigned on this same promise, and you've seen the results since his election.
Ontario voters believed Ford’s promise to slash taxes and balance the budget. But instead Ford made savage spending cuts affecting vulnerable people across the province. He made massive cuts to environmental programs and policy aimed at cooling the climate. Just last week, an Ontario court ruled the Ford government illegally cut cap and trade.
It's an emergency, folks
We're in the midst of a serious climate emergency. Canada is warming at twice the rate as the world at large. Do you think Scheer, who has spent years trashing carbon pricing, will treat the climate or the environment as a priority? Look at the Conservatives' record. The Harper years saw massive environmental deregulation, and there's no sign that Scheer's leadership would be different.
Care about military veterans? The Harper Conservatives cut veterans programs by more than a billion. The Liberals reopened nine offices the Conservatives cut, offices that help vets with disabilities, PTSD and health-care issues.
Are women's rights high on your agenda? Consider the people vowing to help Scheer win a majority. He claims he won't reopen the issue of women's reproductive rights, but ask yourself about Scheer's anti-abortion beliefs, his voting record and why some voters were so happy he won the Conservative Party leadership.
Do you care about Indigenous communities, funding the CBC, the middle class, health care or those living in poverty?
Scheer was on TV recently dodging questions about whether Republicans and Trump advisors are supporting Canada's Conservatives behind the scenes. Asked if Trump advisors Mike Roman and Matthew McBain were helping Scheer's campaign, the Conservatives gave a response only denying that Roman works for the campaign.
UPDATE: I asked the Conservative campaign whether they have Mike Roman or Matthew McBain working with them. CPC spokesperson denies one of the two has anything to do with their campaign. #elxn43 #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/2pcq7wKHhY— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) October 8, 2019
If GOP strategists were helping the CPC, it wouldn't be the first time. In 2011, Ohio-based Republican Front Porch Strategies did campaign work for Conservative Party candidates. Stephen Harper, who still wields influence over today's Conservatives, leads a global organization that works to get right-wing leaders elected.
It makes sense why some would want to see Trudeau out of office. It seems U.S. Republicans would love nothing more than to get rid of a pesky Liberal government that promotes a carbon tax.
Please vote strategically
No party will ever do enough for the environment. But it looks to me like the Conservatives will roll back every single hard-fought gain that climate activists have achieved. You can count on that.
Hillary Clinton was not the perfect candidate for the Democrats in 2016, but voter cynicism and perfectionism gave America — and the world — President Donald Trump. Please don’t let this scenario repeat itself in Canada.
The rise of right-wing populism around the world means we live in a time when our choice is authoritarianism or defending liberal democracy, whatever the party.
So much is at stake. Cynicism only serves the privileged. We need all Canadians like you to fight for democracy. Vote strategically for the candidate with the best chance to defeat the Conservative in your riding. I am.