Leaders find ways to make voters laugh and smile in a gloomy campaign

·4 min read
Jagmeet Singh serves up some
Jagmeet Singh serves up some

There have been some bleak moments so far in the 2021 federal election campaign — protests, violence, questions on racism and outrage in response, an uptick in COVID-19 infections — but they haven't stopped leaders from cracking jokes, firing witty comebacks and having some laughs at their own gaffes.

Here's a look at some of the campaign's funny and bizarre bits.

New Democratic Poutine

It's been called Canada's national dish, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has his own recipe for it with a Punjabi twist.

So when the leader put on an event in Montreal to serve up some of his take on the delicious staple of Canadian cuisine out of a custom food truck, it seemed like Singh would be able to safely claim the day as a win.

But things don't always go as planned — not even Punjabi Poutine.

The food truck, which featured a caricature of Singh, blew a tire on the way to the event. The optics of that aren't great, but, more importantly, it deprived hungry attendees of poutine.

Singh took the setback in stride, and he was eventually able to help serve up his culinary creation.

"Thanks to the people working TIRElessly to get the truck back on the road, we'll still get the poutine to the people," he tweeted.

At least he acknowledged the "gravyty" of the situation.

Thanks for the endorsement

The environment is the central focus of Canada's Green Party. That's why it stung so much when Green Party Leader Annamie Paul gave the Liberals an enthusiastic endorsement in that area during a speech.

"I'll tell the people of Canada that if you want a real plan, one that is going to grow our economy, that is going to put us at the front of the competitive green economy of the future ... the only option in this election for you is the Liberals," Paul said.

Green supporters must have been disappointed for a bit that voting for the party was no longer an option. Not long after, though, Paul and her campaign clarified that she had misspoken.

In a video she posted to Twitter afterwards, Paul saw the humour in the situation.

"It was bound to happen. You do one press conference too many without having had your lunch, and there you go — saying things that are definitely, definitely good for a meme," Paul said

It's not funny anymore, Mr. Prime Minister

He's been the most powerful person in the country for about six years. Given that, you'd think Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau would know when a joke, and a slightly uncomfortable one at that, has run its course.

You would think that.

Andrew Vaughan/CP
Andrew Vaughan/CP

It's no secret that Trudeau is always down for a selfie. But often, when he takes out his phone for a photo, the screen is locked.

Don't worry, Trudeau assures onlookers — because he works in the government, he knows how to unlock phones.

Uh-huh.

Jane Fonda?

"I wonder who Jane Fonda will endorse?" is not something you hear often in Canadian elections.

The actress and fitness guru isn't Canadian and can't vote, but she didn't let that stop her from telling people who can to cast a ballot for her preferred candidate.

That would be filmmaker and activist Avi Lewis, who's running for the NDP in the B.C. riding of West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country (which, believe it or not, is not the longest riding name in the country).

"I'm excited that Canada will have Avi Lewis representing you — and a little jealous too," she said, perhaps prematurely, in an endorsement video.

A politician's best friend

It's not just humans that politicians have courted on the campaign trail.

"I'd like to start today by announcing a very controversial position. I am a dog person," Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said at an announcement on animal welfare, a declaration that's not all that controversial, except among cat people.

Ostriches and emus can't vote — yet. But if they did, they'd probably cast a ballot for Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet. He took some time away from people on the hustings to check in with the animals at a Quebec petting zoo.

While Blanchet may have the ostriches on his side, alpacas are split. Blanchet greeted them as well, but O'Toole and his wife, Rebecca, fed a hungry blind alpaca at a campaign stop in Ontario.

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