Or will we simply look for new liars to try and run our lives?
When COVID-19 first emerged from China, and the federal government chose political correctness instead of sealing the border, the virus entered the country.
As it spread, support for governments of all stripes and at all levels surged.
Previously moribund politicians like Doug Ford saw surging approval ratings.
Justin Trudeau went from a divisive, unpopular PM who had barely held on to power (even losing the popular vote), to a temporarily ‘unifying’ figure with high approval ratings and a daily audience of many Canadians watching his press briefings.
As the crisis continued, and ’15 days to slow the spread’ went into months, we saw lockdowns that caused immense economic damage, damage that was only partially mitigated by immense government spending programs.
There was widespread support for those programs – with all parties in the House of Commons and most provincial parties – backing government action.
Even in the crisis environment, governments that called elections were rewarded, with the BC NDP gaining seats to get a majority, the Saskatchewan Party winning again, and the New Brunswick PCs gaining 7 seats to turn a minority government into a majority.
This led to rampant election speculation at the federal level, with the Liberals making moves (like mail ballot expansion, and Bill C-10, not to mention a stunningly irresponsible debt-binge budget), that look like pre-election moves.
But now, it appears the honeymoon is over.
Canadians turn on politicians of all stripes
According to a new survey by Navigator, trust in government leaders is plummeting.
The survey asked people if they had more or less trust in their leaders because of the pandemic (AKA how it was handled):
In Alberta, 54% say they have less trust in Jason Kenney, while 13% say they have more trust in him.
In BC, 35% say they have less trust, compared to 22% who say they have more.
In Ontario, 51% say they have less trust in Ford, while 20% say they have more.
The exception to this trend is in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, where support for their provincial leaders has increased.
As noted in the National Post, there are reasons for Legault’s strong numbers:
“When (the pandemic) happened in long-term care homes, people knew that Legault had been there for a year, you can’t put all the problems on him,” Pratte said. “So that’s number one. And he was transparent. He did take part of the blame, he did not avoid the tough questions. So I think that’s part of it. And in Quebec, at least, the opposition parties were already weak from the beginning.”
Note the part about Legault taking part of the blame. In other parts of Canada, leaders often preferred to lecture and blame the public.
And in Atlantic Canada, the irony is that they managed to mitigate the pandemic largely through strict internal borders, creating a bubble between themselves and the rest of Canada – clear proof that borders work – something that could have saved thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars if the federal government had taken those actions early.
Trudeau’s numbers fall
As I mentioned earlier, Trudeau’s numbers when the pandemic hit transformed him from an unpopular politician to a widely-supported national leader.
Well, he’s transformed back.
According to the survey, 44% of Canadians say they have less trust in Trudeau because of the pandemic, while 19% have more trust in him.
That gives Trudeau a score of negative 25 points, better than Kenney and Ford, but worse than Horgan.
What makes these numbers interesting are that they are beyond partisanship, beyond the easy explanations people like to make to dismiss their opponents.
We are seeing Canadians lose trust in Liberal politicians, NDP politicians, and Conservative politicians.
It’s politicians and governments themselves who are failing to earn the trust of Canadians.
The question now is where Canadians will go from here.
Many people are still desperately attached to the idea of politicians and ‘public officials’ exerting tremendous control over their lives, despite how often we’ve seen the incompetence of those in charge.
So, some of the loss in support for politicians is – sadly enough – because there are some people who want even tougher lockdowns.
However, I think we can be sure that the hypocrisy of politicians travelling and getting their full paycheques, while we get locked down and restricted, combined with the draconian and often completely absurd restrictions we see in certain areas (like Ontario banning outdoor exercise classes), is eroding the idea that politicians can be trusted.
Indeed, as I wrote in a previous article, politicians expect people to listen without having earned the respect that is necessary for someone to be worth listening to:
“One of the things we’re seeing more of lately is politicians and public officials lamenting the supposed idea that people aren’t listening to them anymore.
I wonder why that would be happening…
The arrogance of our public officials is seemingly matched only by their absolute cluelessness.
They keep going in front of the camera, demanding we trust them, demanding we take them seriously, and demanding we listen to them, while repeatedly making immense errors and reversing themselves.
It’s as if they expect us to simply forget or ignore all the times they’ve contradicted themselves, contradicted each other, and made appeals that were then proven to be wildly off base.”
Will Canadians chose internal strength & self-reliance
Some Canadians have turned on politicians because they want even more draconian measures.
So they will be looking for new ‘leaders’ to spin more lies, and use even more state authority.
With that in mind, we must cultivate and promote the opposite reaction.
For our country to truly improve, and to get off the dangerous path we’re currently on, we need people to recognize that enhancing our self-reliance is the best response to a government we can’t trust.
If each of us becomes stronger, more self-reliant, more focused on our local community, and more willing to recognize that our own internal fortitude and willpower can bring about a better future, we can lessen our need for government intervention, and relegate politicians back to the limited and subservient role they are supposed to serve in our country.