“Haven’t seen you for a few months! What have you been up to?”
“Oh, not much, you know, just laying pretty low. I got a face lift and my nose shaped a bit. Some Botox in the lips, and my cheeks plumped. My teeth were straightened and whitened. Oh and I got my hair cut.”
“Wow! That’s quite a bit of work you had done.”
“Yeah, I thought you’d have noticed, but…”
“Yeah, well, sorry – I didn’t. Doesn’t actually look like much changed. Sure hope it didn’t cost a lot (because frankly it didn’t do you too much good, either).”
“Well, actually, it cost an awful lot, and I’m kind of wondering if it was worth it.”
Such is the scenario that played out this week in the 2008 Canadian Federal Election – our third in four years and fourth in six. Total bill for 2008: close to $300 million. Outcome: Same as last time.
The Conservative Party ended up with another minority government, the Liberals once again came in second (continuing to lose more seats and more votes), the Bloc excited the same Quebeckers with the same message and got nowhere, the NDP once again predicted big gains and didn’t deliver, and for the second election in a row the Greens guaranteed they’d win a seat and didn’t. All for $300 million. Or in other words, the equivalent of two years of arts funding which Stephen Harper axed because he wanted to fund things that “Canadians are actually interested in.” How fitting.
Well, I’m getting ahead of myself – actually one thing changed. The lowest voter turnout in Canadian electoral history – less than 60%. Think Canadians are perhaps, just maybe, totally sick of elections? Hmm… Could be.
Seems that Stephen Harper is unequivocally convinced that if we have another election, just one more, he’ll win his majority, and then we’ll get to work on running this country like it should be, like true reformers – oops, I mean conservatives.
There’s a common theme in right-wing politics, whether it be the Conservative Party in Canada or the Republican party in the US. Instead of coming up with anything of your own, spend that time hacking on what the opposing parties have put forward. Instead of making yourself a winner, win by making them losers. The difference between the Conservative Party and Republicans at the moment, however, is that in Canada there seems to be no shortage of ammo with which to take our their opponents, whereas in the US, the Democrats seem to be far less flappable.
Moving forward, Mr. Harper, please stop wasting our time and money and start running a government. If you don’t have a majority, then fulfill your duty and govern with a minority. Just do your job. And dammit, if you legislate fixed election dates then follow through with it! Perhaps a few years to think, plan and then act will benefit all parties and they’ll come to the table with real ideas for Canadians who might actually get excited enough to vote.