It looks like we’re off on the election trail again. I don’t know if I can take it. It sure feels different than the last time. At one point during the last election campaign, I had publisher, editor, mentor and friend John Gardiner meet me at a big farm rally at the old Zeller’s store parking lot. I had been asked to speak that day, my first foray into firing up a crowd for political blood. I wanted John there for the record.
What followed was a real re-birth for me. As some of you know, I have a whole career going in my other life. At the time of the last election I was asked to lead protests, rallies and generally raise a lot of political ire. Local farmers asked me. I didn’t really feel worthy, but I knew why they asked. I’d been an advocate for local farmers through print and radio for many, many years.
So that day at the old Zeller’s parking lot, I knew the farmers who gathered on that very cold day, wouldn’t be interested in a seminar on grain prices or agricultural policy. They wanted some inspiration and a voice to their many grievances. With all our political candidates present, it was prime time to let them have it. So I knew, I’d have to throw out my notes and reincarnate myself as a “gospel toting” agricultural evangelist looking for some “A-mens”.
I practiced this speaking style. I watched gospel preachers on television. I practiced in the cold snow and ice of that winter. By the time April rolled around, I had spoke at six different farm rallies, the last three in Ottawa. It was a very moving experience for me.
This time around I don’t expect any of that for me. What happened in 2006 for Ontario farmers was like a perfect storm. You had extremely low farm prices, coupled with an election campaign where the government was being rightly held culpable taking place in January. In January, it’s the best time for local farmers to be active, as the land is under ice and snow. For Paul Martin and Stephen Harper, Chatham-Kent and the surrounding ridings, was ground zero for announcing any change in Canadian farm policy. At that time of year, it would surely attract many farmers.
The difference this time is the election campaign will be taking place during the very busy harvest season. I don’t expect any farm activism locally. All of the same issues, which were smoldering in 2006, are still around, but agricultural economics conditions have changed, this time around, nobody will be able to afford any time off to scour politicians.
Stephen Harper must think he’s got a silver bullet going into this election campaign. Why is he so intent on calling an election and moving away from the spirit of his own fixed election date law? Is it because he’s going to paint the Liberals with the “CARBON TAX”, effectively scaring the electorate? That’s got to be it.
What I do know is politics is all about winning. In 2008, like in 2006 it’s all about polling and scientific market research. In other words, Canadian politicians don’t do a thing, unless its scripted and vetted among focus groups and overnight polling. That’s one reason we’ll never see a Canadian politician putting 70,000 bums in seats like Barack Obama did last week in Denver. The other reason of course is we don’t have anybody on our own political scene with the charisma to get that done.
Nonetheless, our political leaders are very smart people. I’ve never met Elizabeth May of the Green party, but I’ve met Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion and Jack Layton. At each meeting I’ve had the chance to engage them in conversation. From my perspective, we’d be well served by any one of them. All are Canadian patriots.
I ran into a local candidate in this upcoming federal election last weekend. We got talking and I wished him good luck. He said many things, but one thing he told me was he had an acquaintance in Ottawa who told him when it comes to getting elected, “its all dumb luck ” anyway. We both laughed.
Needless to say, not everybody feels that way. People fight over politics from time to time. Just look back at world history. Look at the amount of money Barack Obama and John McCain have spent to this point. Yes, I guess it is serious stuff. At least in Canada we get the campaign done in 37 days and count the ballots in three hours. Compared to other countries, I’ll take that every time.