Populism and politics: how are the leaders of the federal parties see the future

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick, The canadian Press
Populism has not always been a bad word in Canada, ” remarked chief conservative Andrew Scheer.

A year after the victory of Donald Trump in the american presidential election, there is not that the houses of polls and political commentators who continue to question whether a upheaval a populist similar could occur in Canada.


Leaders of the federal political parties are trying them also to read in the coffee grounds, trying to see what the future holds.


Populism has not always been a bad word in Canada, noted from the outset, the chief conservative Andrew Scheer.


“Talk about a populist Prairie, Saskatchewan, 40 years ago, it had no pejorative connotation. He was someone who fought for the people and against the emblems of the “centre of Canada” as the banks and the railways, ” said Mr. Scheer.


“In the political cycle today, populism has a negative connotation in some circles. “


The chief curator is found to have to combat this connotation, while his political opponents often attempt to portray the conservatives as being only one step of the populist movement of the right who brought Donald Trump to power.


“The left, the liberals, the NDP are going to say that the government must do this now, and if you do not agree with this, then you do not bother to really this is a problem,” he says.


“While the conservatives say that there are other ways to solve this problem […] and that it is necessary to look at these other options before you go see the government. It takes a little more time to explain, and sometimes, if people can’t see you with an emotional response, they think you don’t have the same level of passion. “


A distinct style of “populism” nordic ” exists in Canada, suggest surveys conducted by Ekos Research and The canadian Press. A populism that has not taken root in an opposition to immigration or free trade, two elements that have characterized the electoral base of Mr. Trump.


Populism in canada is rather related to a middle class that is shrinking, which is concerned about its future and that of his children, and he has the feeling that things are getting worse.


Two Canada who will be competing


The leader of the New democratic Party (NDP), Jagmeet Singh, believes that today there are two Canada face-off : the people who live in a world rich and well-connected, and the other.


The first generally fall behind the conservatives and the liberals, he argues.


It is the rest of the voters that Mr. Singh is trying to attract to the NDP, taking example especially on the politician american democrat Bernie Sanders. The latter had fought a tough battle against Hillary Clinton in the primary elections of the u.s. in 2016, taking advantage of the desire of a part of the population, who wanted progressive policies more energetic.


“I’m trying to build a politics of unity and love and bring people to a point where we have Trump who is trying to divide,” says Mr Singh.


“I’m trying to do something similar to what Bernie has done. He did it by being an old white man. I do this by being a young guy, brown. “


The young people were of crucial importance for Bernie Sanders, and they are also for the NDP.


In the 2015 elections, the vote among Canadians 18 to 24 years of age increased from 18 percentage points to reach 57,1 %, the highest rate since Elections Canada began to identify the voting rate by age in 2004. A subsequent study carried out by the firm, Abacus has suggested that among them, 43 % of those who had supported the NDP in 2011 had changed their vote in 2015 for the liberals.


The cynicism seems to be installed since then.


At a public meeting in December at the University of Ottawa, Mr. Singh was asked several questions from people asking why the politicians don’t listen to the citizens, never present themselves in front of them except during the period of election, appear to ignore those who refuse to align themselves with a party-specific political — and how it was intended to be different.


Mr. Singh points out that keeping young people involved in politics will be part of its priorities.


“We need to recognize that we all had a lot of hope for a lot of things and that this has not worked, and that it hurts “, he admits.


“But this is not a reason to give up. We can’t give up. We can do better. “


Free trade : a new approach


“It is always possible to do better” was the slogan of the liberals during the election campaign of 2015, and will continue to guide the direction of the government in 2018 as it seeks to implement policies which, he insists, will create economic growth for all.


This implies, in particular, to adopt a new approach to free trade.


“The people don’t feel that the trade provide them with something. This helps the large companies. This may perhaps work for political objectives, but it does not help the ordinary people, ” said Mr. Trudeau during an interview in the end of the year given to the show the West Block of the tv network, Global.


“And that’s why, you know, we have as the result of populism and nationalism. “


The efforts antipopulistes of the Trudeau government include the possible addition of a chapter on gender equity and the environment in the treaty of the free trade Agreement north american (NAFTA) – negotiated with Mexico and the United States, as well as the inclusion of like elements in a potential trade agreement with China.


It is also in an optical antipopuliste that is part of the federal government’s willingness to” open the doors ” of the G7 which will take place in June, in the Charlevoix region, in Quebec. The government hopes that by involving Canadians in the summit process, they can contribute to the development of policies.


Justin Trudeau will also spend the first few weeks of 2018 with a tour of public meetings across the country.


“If you don’t pay attention to people who worry about not being able to feed their children, pay their rent and build a better future, you will end up with this negative vision of politics, very polarized, as we see unfortunately in Europe, and we’ve seen a little bit in the election south of us,” said in December the prime minister on the radio CHOM 97,7 FM.


“We see a lot of frustration and anger against a system that does not include everyone on the path to success. “