Poilievre’s campaign rhetoric now pushing our Pavlovian buttons

I’ve often wondered why it is that Canadians always seem to end up wanting a single party in power whenever a minority government is demanded by the electorate. As it now stands, we’ve recently gone through a period during which the NDP, knowing full well that an agreement with the Liberal Party to work in tandem on progressive legislation might eventually be used against them in the future, went ahead and did just that. What Canadians have now reaped as a result of this co-operative effort is some of the most sought-after progressive legislative programs voters have been asking for decades that government provide, including affordable day care, PharmaCare and DentiCare, all now cluttering the mind of the humorless Pierre Poilievre as being “obstacles’ to our ability to deal with the more oppressing economic issues now plaguing the majority of Canadian households. 

The problem is, whenever Poillievre takes the stage to criticize Justin Trudeau and the Liberal / NDP coalition, his audience suddenly sits up, alert as were Pavlov’s dogs hearing the bell announce the arrival of their next meal, to salivate at the prospect of getting closer to a time in 2025 when they will feed upon the carcass of our PM. This in turn appears to send that voter segment into an almost hypnotic trance, their analytical functions cease, and whatever implication as to the potential for good or harm emanating from Poilievre’s monologue vanishes, sucked back into the black hole of 18th Century political rhetoric from which it was sourced. 

None of this rhetorical behaviour is “new” to us; it’s the same approach that Stephen Harper took in 2015 trying to stave off the comeback of a Liberal Party driven almost to extinction during Harper’s period as PM. Equally Harper-like, no utterance by Poilievre is “contaminated” by any policy statement that might give us some idea as to what direction a potential Conservative government might take us. 

OK, maybe that last bit about there being no “policy” being expressed isn’t 100% accurate. For instance, we know that the Conservative’s “solution” to climate change is to “axe the tax” in the provinces whose governments were too addicted to their resource-based royalty revenue to tamper with the restraint necessary to that they couldn’t generate a plan to curb such change

Hey, we even know that a lot of comedians, not to mention federal civil servants are going to find themselves gainfully unemployed in 2026. I suppose that critics of my point of view could state with sincere “conviction” that such a policy shows “courage” in Poilievre’s words, simply because his riding’s constituents are almost overwhelmingly federal government employees. For me that’s a bit of a “stretch”. Canadians are now increasingly being sold on the merits of being part of a union; moreover, it flies in the face of a Conservative talking point that maintains that their party now speaks for the majority of the labour movement, a questionable refrain that Canada’s organized labour movements are only now starting to address.

For myself, Poilievre’s approach on the labour issue alone is the one that should have been referred to as “wacko” in Parliament, but let’s go with the word “delusional” for the moment. The fact is, the combined efforts of the Liberal and NDP coalition are producing legislative measures at a rate that’s making the Conservative bench nauseous and totally incapable of responding with any form of a measured critique. For instance, the latest budget presented before Parliament on housing alone is being criticized for its temerity in basically telling provincial governments that the money is there for the taking, PROVIDED that you agree to certain terms such as containment of urban sprawl and zoning reform – but if you don’t, well, there’s always municipalities that urgently need such funds. 

The Conservatives also had a housing “plan” that was “similar” to the one presented by the Liberal / NDP coalition, but lacked some of the more inflation-restricting qualifications proposed in that budget, such as refusing to cave in to the NIMBY wealthy opposed to denser zoning, more access to public transit, “15 minute city” planning that minimized the need for personal vehicles, and restrained the ability of land speculators and “seven per cent solution” realtors to drive up the eventual cost of such new housing to even middle class families with both parents employed outside the home. 

Scott Moe and Danielle Smith have construed these restrictions as being infringements upon provincial responsibilities; however, does this also mean that they’re going to turn their backs upon federal monies made available on Wednesday that addressed environmental issues such as wildfires, enabled province to train more firefighters, and gave Indigenous communities greater control over land and resource management? 

I also find the Conservative criticism of a massive increase in the funding of our military, both in terms of recruitment and equipment, both hypocritical and self-serving, in that former PM John Diefenbaker started the government trend of purchasing throw-away American- manufactured military equipment when he dumped the Avro Arrow in favour of Bomarc missiles, while Harper refused to replace rescue helicopters or commit to the purchase of the F-35 Lightning fighter aircraft, which Canada has now done, as well as replacing its Aurora maritime patrol fleet with the newer P8-A’s.

And so, yes, the Conservatives can rightly point to our now having a $40 billion deficit, but much of that was created as a result of measures required to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic; therefore, WHY in God’s name would Poilievre now turn towards debunking the need for our three majorly demanded program implementations that will in the near future provide many of the social fixtures needed for our economy to more productively function?  Perhaps we should be instead asking our Pavlovian-impaired voters why they’re still listening to this man, especially when we know that here in Saskatchewan, we have a provincial deficit now approaching $31 billion…