The Canadian Imagination

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

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Tilt

Worth acknowledging, this day (when the Canadian Labour Congress has launched its Labour's Better Choice election campaign), that the polls have finally caught up with the insider trading investigation into Ralph Gooddale's office: the latest shift of the public pendulum has finally crashed the Tories through that psychological barrier to slip ahead of the Liberals. Me, I think it is mostly a knee-jerk reaction, the frustrated response of a public that seeks some kind of outlet to vent -- and also that its magnitude is temporary. The Liberals may have lost momentum, but then they didn't really have the public's trust to lose even at the start of this campaign. Whatever really happened in Gooddale's office only brought the issue to the forefront, again, again. The Conservatives, on the other hand, seem to have pulled every single television advertisement showing Harper. One does have to wonder about a party that doesn't feel comfortable airing its own leader to anything other than an audience already solidly on its own side -- but then (judging by the media spectacles south of the border) that does seem to be the way North American political campaigns are heading: damn the whistlestops, damn the torpedoes, and full steam ahead.

I expect this result to level out in another week or so: but leaving behind the political debris of an even greater percentage of undecided voters and the Liberals never regaining fully what little lead they had to begin with. By the 15th, the Liberals and Conservatives might be neck and neck again, within the margin of error of each other; and that probably won't change right through until the election unless something drastic happens in the upcoming debates.

But are these really the only options: Liberal red (and yes, I agree that it could use a rest) or Tory blue? (Federally, of course. Inside Québec, I will be very surprised if anyone not of the Bloc hangs onto a single seat outside Montréal.) Can we not consider other parties, or stable coalitions, or even a mixed-party cabinet? Have we become for all intents and purposes a bipartisan political structure? Or has the only function of the "other" parties become to ensure that the popular vote numbers by themselves become nearly meaningless, against the stubbornly-adhered-to anachronism of this archaic first-past-the-post system? (which nevertheless no party which had just leaned on it in its vault to power seems willing to relinquish?)

Maybe we should all hope for the Bloc to sweep Québec. Within what result would electoral reform lie more surely, than in a scenario where the ruling federal government has the choice between accepting a Bloc MP into the cabinet, or having to go totally without Québecois representation?

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