It’s the happiest time of the year!
The government has fallen! It’s spring election time!
I know I sound excited, and I am. Despite everyone else seeming to be exhausted by elections (four in the last seven years) I love seeing the politicians out there pleading their case, trying to convince me why they are the best person for the position of Prime Minister (or why their opponents are the worst persons). Even better is watching politicians awkwardly parry questions by reporters.
That’s right; Canada is heading back to the polls on May 2. Although a lot of people claim there was no clear reason to call an election, the Harper government was found in contempt of Parliament – the first government in Canadian history to do so, over the issue of lying about new fighter jet expenses. Even if the contempt ruling had not been made, all opposition parties opposed the new Conservative budget, which likely would’ve brought down the government anyway.
Although the first polls indicate Canada will get anything from a return to the status quo to a Conservative majority, out of the gate both the Liberals and the NDP look good. In fact, I am awarding the first election zinger to Michael Ignatieff for saying “The person who’s got a problem with a coalition is Stephen Harper. He’s got to explain what he was doing in Toronto hotel rooms with Jack and Gilles,” an obvious reference to both the Harper coalition discussions of 2004 and the popular children’s nursery rhyme.
However, Ignatieff also gets the lamest remark to this point in the election by claiming he is running in the election because he loves democracy. What an utterly obvious statement for someone campaigning for office to make. Perhaps Stephen Harper, if confronted, would admit that he hates democracy? That seems very, very unlikely.
Jack Layton is looking good as well. He’s campaigning all over the country and perhaps he will win some more seats this time, even though it seems the NDP cannot break the “40 seat barrier”. Unfortunately, it is kind of painful to see Layton running to be Prime Minister. Sure, it’s acceptable to aim high in a federal election, but setting a more reasonable goal – like perhaps becoming the official opposition – would be more realistic than having Layton as Prime Minister.
Harper, on the other hand, is under attack for being a hypocrite on the coalition issue. In 2004, when Harper was leader of the official opposition, he sent a letter to the Governor General telling her to “keep all options open” when considering the minority government of Paul Martin. Keeping all options open is generally assumed to mean an NDP-Bloc-Conservative coalition, something which Harper denies but which Layton and Gilles Duceppe affirm. It seems for the Conservatives it was tolerable to work with separatists in 2004, but it isn’t in 2011.
Further, it seems like Harper is promising that if Ignatieff is elected Canada will descend into chaos and horrors overnight, with a madman at the wheel steering the country straight into the abyss. Harper says Canada is an island of stability, and cites the turmoil in the Middle East, the European debt crisis, and “Disaster in the Pacific” as reasons why we are so stable and safe – as if electing a Liberal government will cause the Earth itself to split in two and swallow Vancouver.
However the rest of the election goes (and I am sure there will be some faux pas yet to come) I cannot wait for Election Day. I hope everyone else is just as excited for the election and that everyone will vote, even if they ruin their ballot to make a point that they hate all the candidates. This is our democracy, and as annoying as it might be, there are people around the world fighting and dying to get what we have. We should honour their efforts by exercising our right to vote when we have the opportunity.