For a federal election with so many parties vying for control of a probable minority government, last Tuesday’s election in Canada was a big bore. Personally, I’m surprised that 58% of the electorate (the lowest ever) actually showed up to vote (for the record, yes, I did vote).
Why was it a bore? The parties and their leaders failed to address the issues that really matter to Canadians, such as the economy (hello!) and the environment. Instead, they wrangled over who was best (among a poor lot) to lead the country, including the inevitable attack ads. The result was another Conservative minority government, with that government only gaining a few more seats instead of the majority it craved. Many people are now asking why did we waste all that time, effort and money (a reported $300 million) to return the same-old same-old when the previous parliament was working just fine.
Here are some observations:
1. Stephen Harper didn’t have to call the election. In fact, his government had passed a bill that set fixed election dates. Now, that legislation did have a built in loophole allowing minority governments to call elections at will, but still Harper calling an election when the opposition had not really expressed non-confidence in the government was at least a violation of the intent of the legislation.
But that’s the nature of minority governments. Harper did get a slight increase in seats, and humiliated his chief opponent; but was that worth all the time and money spent…?
One thing is certain — the country still does not completely trust the Conservatives. Harper needed to gain more seats in Quebec (he did not) to achieve a majority government; so, why did he decide to attack funding for the arts, a fundamental stone in the foundation of the Quebec (and in reality, Canadian) culture. That attack cost him his majority.
2. The Liberals continue their banishment in the wilderness. Perhaps they will learn their lesson and finally elect a leader in a democratic fashion where all members can assess the qualities of the candidates and not leave the decision to one or two people who suddenly gain ephemeral power in a heated old-time (and outdated) convention. If you want someone to lead you out of the wilderness, you better pick someone all are willing to follow.
3. The Green Party gained some votes but not a seat. This is too bad as their voice is needed in Ottawa. My question is what was leader Elizabeth May thinking when she decided to run against high-profile Tory (Peter MacKay) in a secure Tory riding? Shouldn’t she have chosen a riding in which she had a better chance of winning?
4. The only bright spot here in Alberta is that a crack has appeared in the monolith voting this province does each federal election. Linda Duncan’s election as a New Democratic will at least provide an alternative voice from Alberta from the band of bobble heads we normally send to Ottawa. Will that be enough for Alberta not to be taken for granted by the Conservatives and ignored by the Liberals? I doubt it.
One other good thing is that this election is over. Parties will be reluctant to go to the polls again for at least two years (we can hope) and will maybe get down to work to actually make this country work, especially in light of the crises we are facing both economically and environmentally — both subjects that were rarely discussed in the election.
So, what’s wrong with that?