The role of Canada’s Premiers in federal elections is evolving to become more partisan. This leads to more conflict, personal attacks, and threatens the unity of the country.
With so many Premiers active in the federal campaign against the Prime Minister, how will it be possible for them to work together post-election if Justin Trudeau wins again?
Canadians typically like their politicians to stick to their lanes. What will the political cost be to the Premiers who campaign outside of their provinces and waste tax dollars on clearly partisan advertising?
There will be a real negative cost to both the country and to the taxpayer.
A Premier is more than a leader of a government. A Premier is also the leader of a provincial political party and an individual politician. It is not unusual for a politician to act politically. What is significant is the way the Premiers will act politically in 2019.
In the past, on issues of national concern, it is not entirely uncommon for a Premier to play a role in a federal election.
In the 1988 federal election, Ontario Premier David Peterson spoke out against Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on the issue of free trade and NAFTA during the campaign and supported the federal Liberals. Peterson felt the economic impact of the agreement on Canada’s largest province justified his approach.
It was a nasty and divisive campaign. However, Peterson did not use the full resources of the provincial government to campaign against Mulroney. Peterson used his media profile to attack free trade.
In 2015, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne basically acted like she was a Justin Trudeau campaign manager and campaigned against Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Wynne was all-in on Trudeau. Conservatives were not happy, and many people at the time questioned how Wynne could work with the Harper government post-election if they won.
The Wynne-Harper feud continued a trend in federal-provincial relations towards more personality-based attacks rather than policy-driven attacks.
Wynne, however, was mostly a lone wolf, and she did not use the full resources of the government to attack Harper or his policies.
Now in the 2019 federal election, Canada’s Premiers are going to bring the personal political conflict to an unprecedented level.
The Globe and Mail reported recently that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney would openly campaign against Trudeau in the vote-rich GTA belt in Ontario.
An Alberta Premier on the campaign trail in Ontario instead of his home province. Incredible.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford continues to waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money on partisan attack ads against the carbon tax.
The Toronto Sun, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail editorial boards have all written in unison condemning Ford for his waste of tax dollars on the advertising yet Ford is unrelenting.
If Ford will spend tax dollars on carbon tax ads, what else will he waste money on to stop Justin Trudeau?
What else is happening behind the scenes between the Premiers?
They want Scheer to win. I get it. However, there are boundaries and limits to using your incredible power as Premier to impact an election. They need to be respected.
There is only one taxpayer. The partisan fighting doesn’t do anything to serve them.
Ford is in his first year of government and Kenney in his first months.
Both were elected to “clean up the mess” of left-wing governments which preceded them. Both have significant deficits to grapple with.
You would think they would have enough on their plate right now.
Spending too much time in other provinces or wasting tax dollars on advertising could have a real impact on an election. For Ford and Kenney, they might want to be careful it is not on their own re-election.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019