Once the House of Commons quits work on Thursday for its scheduled summer break, members of Parliament will be free to scatter across the country and do what comes naturally to them. Canadians who take an interest in such things will be able to watch how their political representatives behave when freed from the discipline of a parliamentary session.
Conservatives will face the urgent demands of a leadership race. No lazy hot summer afternoons for them. The followers of Pierre Poilievre, Jean Charest, Patrick Brown, Leslyn Lewis and the other contenders will be courting their friends, neighbours and potential party members in anticipation of the Sept. 10 vote to choose a successor to Erin O’Toole.
Conservatives do this a lot. In 2017, they chose Andrew Scheer as their leader. They dumped him in 2019 after he narrowly lost a federal election. In 2020, they picked Mr. O’Toole to take his place. He lost a federal election and they dumped him by a caucus vote in February this year.
Since then, leadership contenders have been stoking rage against each other and against the ruling Liberals and selling party memberships to potential supporters. Angry epithets have been zinging across the country as leading candidates show off their vituperative skills.
The work of pulling the party back together and teaching the art of teamwork must wait for another day. Conservatives are too busy tearing their party apart, as they have been doing through the Scheer and O’Toole years, to worry about binding the wounds.
New Democrat MPs will face no such strenuous efforts. Their leader, Jagmeet Singh, is reasonably well liked by the public and there have been no signs of internal insurgency against his leadership.
The parliamentary party already made its grand strategic choice of promising to keep the Liberals in power in this minority Parliament as long as their government appears to be delivering a short list of NDP legislative demands. After that, there is little to be done but wait for a general election and hope the NDP does not appear impotent and irrelevant in the eyes of its supporters.
The easiest summer of all awaits the ruling Liberals. They have NDP support in their back pocket. Political Canada is entertained by the continuing self-destruction of the Conservative party. Once Parliament has risen, no one will be paying much attention to what the government does or fails to do. The slow-motion Conservative train wreck will hold the nation’s attention.
The Liberals’ toughest task will be to slather on enough sunscreen as they loll beside their backyard pools. As far as the Liberal eye can see into the future, there is no bump in the road, no obstacle to challenge or interrupt the serene continuance of Liberal rule.
As far as the Liberal eye can see into the future, there is no bump in the road, no obstacle to challenge or interrupt the serene continuance of Liberal rule.
Public impatience with rising consumer prices could become a problem, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau long ago learned from his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, how to deal with that – wait for the Tories to propose wage and price controls, dismiss their plan as foolish, then adopt it when other remedies prove ineffective. It worked for the father; why would it not work for the son?
The Conservatives’ choice of a successor to Messrs. Scheer and O’Toole should hold the country’s attention as the summer days shorten toward autumn. Then the public will have to wait and see how soon the knives come out once again.