I have traveled this land many times. Other than Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the North, I have been almost everywhere. The funny thing is at almost every turn, it’s a little bit different, but then again it is the same. Whatever you are in this land, it is Canada. We are all Canadians, and I hope we remember that going into the election on Monday, May 2nd.
It has been a rough-and-tumble campaign. There have not been a lot of fireworks but the negative advertising did rough up Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff at the beginning. As I write this, the media is talking about the great NDP surge, some saying that we might even see 100 NDP seats on Monday night.
That certainly would be a surprise, as the NDP has never gone higher than third party in Canadian politics. In this election campaign Jack Layton has come across as the most likable Canadian political leader. Everywhere Jack Layton goes, he smiles and waves his cane like a badge of honor. The other political leaders, cross as something different. Prime Minister Harper comes across as a meany, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff comes across as too stiff and academic and Gillies Duceppe comes across as the angry Quebecer. So that leaves Jack Layton as the default choice for many people.
The campaign started out with Minister Stephen Harper claiming it has a plebiscite between him and the evil coalition. Of course he was framing the argument as a coalition, which included the hated Bloc Quebecois. So with the NDP catching fire in Quebec, that isn’t quite working right now. Of course it is all conjecture at this point, individual ridings are in flux, but it would seem that the big NDP orange wave is coming.
So next week at this time, I will certainly have a lot more to write about. I always think that Canadian democracy is pretty wonderful. We have an election campaign in just over 30 days, we count the votes in about two hours and then everybody goes home. If you compare that to our American friends who spend millions upon millions of dollars over a two-year period, it makes us look pretty good.
Unfortunately, some of the political vandalism that has been going on in Toronto recently, makes us look a little bit Third World. Some Liberal and NDP supporters, who had lawn signs up, have gotten their cars vandalized, tires slashed and graffiti painted. I credit Canada’s political leaders was coming out and saying how there is no place for this in Canada. I hope the perpetrators are prosecuted for the property damage. Nobody in Canada should ever feel intimidated to put a lawn sign up in front of their house.
What I find particularly interesting about this election campaign is the changes going on in Quebec. If you have read this column over the last several months you will know that I have always believed the existence of the Bloc in Québec meant no majority government for anybody. I had always assumed that the Bloc would be getting 50 seats and by taking that out of the equation means automatic minority government. So now with those numbers in flux, all bets are off.
Of course I really do not know what is going to happen but I hope next time around we can do a little bit better at electoral democracy. For the most part our political leaders are behind fences. Nobody gets to ask questions and everything is scripted. Yes, I know, Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton stood up to the crowds and said things off the cuff. However, Prime Minister Harper had everything scripted and this takes away from the debate. Sure, security is a big deal when it comes to the Prime Minister but I’m sure he can handle himself in front of a less than friendly crowd.
I also find that even in local all candidates’ debates there is not much discussion. Written questions should be banned, replaced by oral questions with a strong chair. That’s better for the candidates, better for the voters, just better all the way around. Next time around, let’s get it done that way.
So what ever happens on May 2nd, let’s celebrate our democracy. It might not be perfect but it’s close. We are all Canadians, regardless of political persuasion.