“It’s the economy, stupid” is an astute and famous phrase that helped Bill Clinton win the race for the White House against George HW Bush in 1992.
The famous quote was coined by James Carville, one of Clinton’s campaign advisors, to hammer on the importance of the economy to the American voters while Bush was trying to cash in on his popularity of the Kuwait war.
The phrase became a mantra for the Clinton campaign. But over the years, it has become a snowclone with several variations replacing the word “economy.” Examples include “It’s the deficit, stupid!”, “It’s the corporation, stupid!” and “It’s the voters, stupid!”
The expression, it’s Covid-19, stupid, has not been introduced yet. But its relevancy smacks well in the current Canadian election hubbub. The phrase’s significance lies in the fact that the Covid pandemic impacts the dominant poll issues.
For example, Canada’s health system involves a stressed-out and overworked environment for the doctors, nurses, and others in the medical community.
High living costs mired in housing, grocery and other basics, and tourism are critical concerns affected by the pandemic.
And then, there are issues about school and educational institutions with restricted openings, the shutdown of businesses or their reduced earnings, especially restaurants and banquet halls, where Covid and its variations are the main culprits.
Also getting into the fray are pandemic relief benefits by the Trudeau government that has cooked up a hot pot for the opposition to spill in the election ring.
The restrictions relating to the pandemic and vaccination have generated quite a controversy between the Liberal and the Conservative parties.
Anti-vaccinators have emerged as a community seeking absolute freedom with slogans like “my body my choice” and rallying in front of hospitals protesting “the tyranny of mandatory vaccines.”
The Conservative Party faces a dilemma as many of its core membership with far-right leanings support the anti-vaccination wave.
Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau continues his thrust to make mandatory vaccination on the election platform. He presents himself as a vaccine advocate claiming that he secured enough doses to get everyone eligible for double shots of the vaccination.
He can claim as the leader who will keep people safe for the fourth or fifth waves of this pandemic by advancing mandatory vaccines for federal public servants and the travelling public.
Tory leader Erin O’Toole dismisses the idea of compulsory jibes, stressing that “We shouldn’t force Canadians. It’s a decision for individual Canadians on a health matter.”
The big question is who can best handle the pandemic as there will not be a zero-Covid situation in the foreseeable future?
Covid-19 is the backdrop. It is a poll wringer that squeezes most of the issues for a challenging 2021 Canada election.