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Legacies and ghosts haunt Canada’s political stage

by Robin Stanford September 22, 2015
Legacies and ghosts haunt Canada’s political stage

Every party leader is campaigning in someone’s shadow—sometimes, even their own

With election season in full swing, there is one thing on every Canadian’s mind: what will Donald Trump say next? Some Canadians are talking more about the American Republican primaries than who will be chosen to lead our country next month.

Jack Layton casts a long shadow. Photo taken from Flickr user Bruce Hyer.

Jack Layton casts a long shadow. Photo taken from Flickr user Bruce Hyer.

In an election being viewed by many as a “Get Out the Vote, Get Harper Out” campaign, voters are missing the best part of the election. This election may best be described as the legacy race. All of the major party leaders are struggling to run from, or striving to run with the weight of their pedigree. Let us look at the party leaders.

Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Québécois. Duceppe is an odd position: he has inherited the history of a political party with no interest in ruling Canada, or even becoming the official opposition party. His party’s concern is bringing the concerns of the Quebec population to the national stage, or making Quebec a nation itself. His years of leadership have taken their toll and in this election cycle, Duceppe has come across as being run down by his party’s history.

Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party. Harper is the seasoned veteran of the group, being Prime Minister since 2004. Perhaps the best way to understand Harper’s legacy is that of the prime minister who would be king. Throughout his tenure as leader of our country he has proven that he will go to great lengths to run things as he wishes. This election cycle, Harper comes across as a man who plays by no one’s rules but his own.

Elizabeth May and the Green Party. May is the second most seasoned leader, having taken over as federal leader of the party in 2006. The party has struggled as a second-tier party, often not being taken as seriously as the others. This view of the Green Party comes, in part, from their focus on environmental issues. Although May has proven herself in the debates, the image of her party bogs her down.

Thomas Mulcair and the New Democratic Party. Mulcair is perhaps the leader whose legacy is heaviest. His predecessor, Jack Layton, won over the hearts of many Canadian voters in the last federal election. His death in 2011—at the height of his popularity—made sure that the public would never forget him. As a result, since taking the leadership, Mulcair has spent time trying to prove by7hyhhh how much like Layton he can be.

Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party. Trudeau, the youngest candidate for Prime Minister, is perhaps the most charismatic of the leaders. Although he has put forth great efforts to differentiate himself from his father, the legacy of the late Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau can still be felt. During this campaign, he has worked to demonstrate himself as the man the Liberals want and that the young middle class Canadian citizens need.

All the party leaders are being dragged down by the legacies of their parties and predecessors. But who will exit the shadows of the past to become our prime minister? That’s something only you can decide on Oct. 19. Remember to go out and vote!

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