The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

January 23, 2006

We have a date. (Multiple "who is on top" quips spring to mind, but will be determinedly resisted.)

A week less than two months, although anyone choosing to actively campaign during the week of December 24 to January 1 may lose more than they gain thereby, so the campaigning will probably only swing into high gear after January 2. Thus it is entirely possible that major ridings will be skipped entirely by the party leaders until after the new year. They are not ignoring you. They just know that voters have short memory spans.

In a how do you stand? quiz, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (linked in the sidebar as "CBC") has identified twelve issues around which they believe the election will revolve:
  • child care
  • defence spending
  • economic growth
  • farming
  • foreign aid
  • gun control
  • healthcare funding
  • national security
  • parliamentary reform
  • relations with the provinces
  • taxes
  • (un)employment insurance
Can't help but notice that the issue which has seemed to generate the most heated debate (societal moral values) did not make it onto the list, even though it underlies every budgetary question.

The basis for everyone's platform, in a nutshell:

Bloc Québecois (Gilles Duceppe): more power to the provinces. The federals mismanage everything. Social justice, so long as it doesn't reduce the provinces' power. Protection of individual freedoms over national security where privacy issues are international or federal, but the province can do whatever it wants. Of course a free vote: why wouldn't any pur laine Québecois want the freedom to vote the Right way? Farmers feed cities. Gun control became relevant when the Hells Angels and other biker gangs started setting up in Montréal. Let the new Parti Québecois leader drop the R[eferendum] word just prior to campaign, and then set responsibility solely upon the other federal parties for making national unity any kind of issue. And we really don't care what two consenting men choose to do with each other, so we are just fine with calling it "marriage" if that is the going word for a legal familial partnership between two persons.

Conservatives (Stephen Harper): more power to the provinces to begin, and to the people directly whenever possible. The public sector mismanages everything, always gets in the way of true progress, and is hopelessly corrupt and hypocritical: look for a private sector solution to everything. Free trade. Free votes: you are free to vote your conscience, as long as your conscience is Right. Farmers feed cities: it is up to each farmer to take advantage of free trade. Individual freedoms except where national security is involved, individual pay-per-use except for our cars, individual responsibility to manage every aspect of their needs except for our pensions. Gun control is useless. The United States does everything better than we do. We should have gone to war in Iraq. We don't have the military to do it, but we should make the military to do it. It is a dangerous world out there. And above all: a marriage is between one man and one woman. Mess with the Dictionary, and we're telling. Oh, and did we mention already that the United States is God? ... but, President Mr. Bush Sir, did you have to pressure us into opposing your missile defense policy? We really really really wanted to support it, but don't you know no Canadian politician can ever be seen as having been pressured by the United States to do anything?

Liberals (Paul Martin): more power to the provinces; wait, the federals; wait, the provinces; wait, the federals. Can we just give them all the spending power but cut transfer payments? Public sector when we are in front of a microphone, but we would really prefer a semi-privatised two-tier system. Can we say that on the air? Free trade; wait, maybe free trade, it sort of looks good on paper, but it is not like it matters, since the United States is not playing by the rules anyway. How much individual pay-per-use can we get away with before it starts looking like we eroded the sacred social programmes? Free vote ... er, how many backbencher votes can we afford to lose? now that O'Brien is out of the picture? Farmers feed cities. I guess we have to bail the farmers out. This would be so much easier if we could just declare the death of the family farm and turn every farm into a corporation. Hey, that would solve the subsidy problem too! Wonder if we could turn it into a sponsorship deal? ... ah, right, "sponsorship", bad word. Maybe if we called it "public relations"? Hey, after all we managed to turn the gay marriage question into an issue of rights and ignore the word question entirely. Privacy of information and security of the person. Wait, those two don't work together too well. And the United States keeps pressuring us about national security too. Did we ever contract with anyone private to store our data? Do they have branches in the United States? Why are people not signing up with our military like they used to? We spent a fortune on advertising, two out of four new-used submarines stayed afloat (and that ain't bad!), and the barracks roofs don't even leak as much as they used to. Gun control is vital to bring gang violence in Toronto under control ... unless we are in a swing riding in rural Ontario, in which case we can talk about exceptions. Rural Alberta? Who cares?

New Democrats (Jack Layton): I am a nice guy. We gave too much power to the provinces as is. The private sector mismanages everything, always gets in the way of true progress, and is hopelessly corrupt and hypocritical: look for a public sector solution to everything. Did I mention I am a nice guy? Free trade makes jobs go south, so just say no. Free votes: you are free to vote your conscience, as long as your conscience is NDP. Farmers feed cities: we need to protect farmers from free trade. Just in case you didn't catch it, I am a nice guy. Personal privacy above individual freedoms and, well, national security: but be honest, guys, we are not even on their radar, and this kind of information was badly abused in the 1950s. We don't want to start all that racial profiling again. Anyway, the last act of terrorism we ever had was domestic, back in 1970. [Looks sidewise at the Bloc, and then at Stephen Harper: what is he doing, consorting with separatists?]. Our Sacred Social Contract. Our Sacred Social Programmes. Gun control, oh yes! The United States is dangerous, but we can't say that out loud. We really don't care about the whole gay marriage thing one way or the other, but now that you have turned it into a rights issue we have to support it, being a nice guy and all. What do you mean, I forced this election? But I am a nice guy! Look, I even offered him a choice: do it my way, or we will vote you out of power.

Green (Jim Harris): what, you mean he is for real? Issues? Does he even have a media bus? Maybe we should have given him that seat in the debates after all: all most of the public know about is that dandelion lawn sign growing everywhere. It is not like we didn't have enough debates to go around -- give him Stephen Harper's seat in the francophone debate. (Petition to bring the Green party into the federal debate.)

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