Podcast: The Canadian election is utterly lacking in vision

The Backbench's Fatima Syed discusses what's missing on the federal campaign trail, and QP Briefing's Sneh Duggal talks Doug Ford's anti-vaxxer problem

Get in, losers, we’re going to the polls! Or at least this week’s NOW What podcast is, in an episode devoted entirely to politics.

Canada is almost a week into a federal election, and a lot of people are wondering exactly what the country’s political parties are standing for this time around. I turned to Fatima Syed, a freelance journalist and the host of Canadaland’s Backbench podcast, to get her sense of the first few days of the campaign.

“We’re on day five of the election and I don’t know what everyone’s vision for Canada is,” Syed tells me in the episode. “And I don’t mean the nitty-gritty platform stuff like health care and climate and business and all of that. Yes, of course you want to dissect into each policy that the party proposes and see if that works for you… but I mean the broader vision.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dissolved parliament and called an election for September 20, polling suggests fewer than 30 per cent of voters are excited to be in the midst of a campaign. It’s not hard to imagine why: The platforms and ideas politicians are floating hardly feel like they are energizing the electorate.

“When Justin Trudeau was elected [in 2015], there were two competing visions,” Syed explains. “I remember, in my community and in my household, [Stephen] Harper was the guy proposing the niqab ban. He was the guy proposing the barbaric cultural practices hotline… that was the conversation. And then in 2019, it was about the environment: we had provinces fighting carbon pricing, they were taking it to the Supreme Court, and we had Andrew Scheer completely not talking about climate change at all – like, refusing to acknowledge it. And so it became a battle of climate visions.

“This [election] could have been about visions. We’re coming out of a pandemic, and we’ve seen all the gaps in the way our society’s institutions function. It’s actually a perfect time to present a vision for Canada. What do we want post-pandemic Canada to look like? But that’s not happening.”

Next, Sneh Duggal of Queen’s Park Briefing explains the Ontario government’s ongoing attempts to encourage businesses to set vaccination policies while still struggling with vaccination hesitancy – and blatant anti-vaxxers – within its own caucus.

(We recorded this segment on Wednesday, before Thursday afternoon’s flurry of announcements from both the public and private sector mandating vaccination for employees and contractors, and before the ejection of Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls from the PC caucus after his refusal to be vaccinated.)

Listen to both conversations on the latest episode of NOW What, available on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or streamable right here:

NOW What is NOW’s weekly news and culture podcast. New episodes are released every Friday.


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