The Party Leaders

In our last post we looked at the different political parties contesting the October 21st federal election.  In this post, we want to learn about the individuals who lead each of these parties.  Over the next few months the mainstream media and social media will have much to say about them, and often it’s their personality and ability to communicate that will sway voter intentions.  Consequently it would be prudent for us to find out something about these key players, their background and what they stand for.  So here we go!

Justin Trudeau – Leader of the Liberal Party

Justin Trudeau is the leader of the Liberal Party and currently Prime Minister of Canada.  He is 47 years old and the son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.  In 2005 he married Sophie Gregoire, a Quebec television personality, and together they are the parents of three children. 

Trudeau holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature and also a Bachelor of Education.   After a brief stint teaching in a private school, he returned to academia and began studying Engineering. Before completing that course, though, he switched to a Masters program in environmental geography but soon abandoned that to pursue a political career.  In 2008 he was elected to Parliament as the MP for Papineau, Quebec, and then in 2013 he handily won the leadership contest for the Liberal Party becoming Prime Minister when his party secured the most seats in the 2015 federal election.

During that campaign, Trudeau portrayed himself as a different kind of politician.  He came across as relaxed, informal, approachable and cooperative.  His platform was “socially progressive” as he championed causes such as legalizing marijuana, pro-choice, women’s rights, indigenous reconciliation, and a more open immigration policy.  He also promised electoral reform and guaranteed he would balance the budget by 2019, the end of his first term.  In his victory speech on election night, he proclaimed a new era of “sunny ways”.

Trudeau’s four years as Prime Minister have received mixed reviews.  Although he has introduced some popular changes like the Child Tax Benefit and a less partisan Senate, many of his promises and policies have left voters disillusioned.  Things like electoral reform, balancing the federal budget, indigenous reconciliation and an open, transparent government have been seen by Canadians as broken promises.  This upcoming election will ultimately determine whether the people of Canada have enough trust to re-elect him Prime Minister of our country.   

Andrew Scheer – The Conservative Party

Andrew Scheer is leader of the Conservative Party.  He is 40 years old and married to Jill Ryan.  Together they have five young children. 

Scheer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Saskatchewan.  Upon graduation, he briefly worked as an insurance broker before pursuing his real passion – politics.  In 2004, at the age of 25, he ran for Parliament in the riding of Regina-Qu’appelle and narrowly defeated the long-standing NDP incumbent, Lorne Nystrom.  Since then he has been re-elected by those same constituenst four more times.  In 2011 Scheer was chosen by his Parliamentary peers in a non-partisan vote to become Speaker of the House, the youngest MP to ever hold that position.

After Prime Minister Harper’s defeat in the 2015 election and subsequent resignation as leader of the Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer entered the leadership race, narrowly edging out runner-up Maxine Bernier at the May 2017 party convention.

Scheer’s fundamental approach to politics and government is probably best summarized in his very first speech to Parliament in 2004 when he said, “I believe there are certain natural limits to the scope of government, that some problems need to be addressed by individual Canadians or communities or grassroots organizations.  We need a government that recognizes its own limits.”  In other words, he believes in small government and individual incentive.

Based on this philosophy, Scheer’s platform for the 2019 election includes rescinding the carbon tax, removing GST from home heating bills, a balanced budget within two years, tougher laws on gang crime, less red tape for small business, and a fair, compassionate approach to immigration.  The October 21st election will tell whether these values resonate with those of the average Canadian.

In the interest of keeping this post a reasonable length, I am going to briefly refer to the other two party leaders but will provide you with links to websites that can detail more of their background.

Jagmeet Singh – The New Democratic Party

Jagmeet Singh, leader of the NDP, is 40 years old.   In 2018 he married Gurkiran Kuar Sidhu.

Singh received his Law Degree in 2005 and practiced as a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto before entering politics.  In 2011 he successfully ran for the Ontario provincial legislature in the Peel Region representing the New Democratic Party.  He immediately made a name for himself as house critic for the Attorney General of Ontario.  In 2017 he ran for leader of the national NDP, winning handily on the first ballot.  For the next 18 months he led the party from outside of Parliament, but in 2019 won a by-election in Burnaby South to finally take a seat in the House.

For more detailed information on his background and policies, click here

Elizabeth May – The Green Party

Elizabeth May is the leader of the Green Party.  She is 65 years old and a single parent with one daughter.  Recently she has announced her engagement to John Kidder.

In 1983 she graduated from Dalhousie Law School and in 1989 became founding Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada, an environmental lobby organization.  She held that role until 2006 when she resigned to take on the leadership of the Green Party of Canada.  Her first two attempts at gaining a seat in Parliament were unsuccessful, but in 2011 she managed to defeat the Conservative candidate in Saanich-Gulf Island to become the first member of the Green Party to sit in Canada’s Parliament.  She successfully defended that riding in 2015, although she was the only member from her party to be elected.

For more detailed information on her background and policies, click here

So these are the leaders of the main political parties in this upcoming election.  Each one of them will be evaluated over the next weeks not only on their platform and policies, but also their performance.  The news media, along with nationally televised debates, will give all of us an opportunity to assess their credibility, their communication skills, and their understanding of the issues.  I would strongly encourage you to consider these matters carefully and not fall prey to the exaggerated stereotypes each party will undoubtedly use in their advertising campaigns.  Focus on content and style, not on propaganda!

So now we’ve looked at the different political parties and their leaders.But there is another very important element to consider that may impact how you cast your vote next October.

Holden Bowker,

Richmond Centre Conservative Association

(Photo Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2019/08/09/trudeau-and-scheer-are-neck-and-neck-for-best-prime-minister-poll-says.html)

Alice Wong