Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Springtime in Canada

I must acknowledge a typo in my last entry. When I said that this was the most boring federal election in Canadian history, I really meant to write most interesting.

Ha, ha! But seriously: what a turn around there has been in the last couple of weeks! Suddenly the NDP, the quasi- demi- hemi-socialists have rocketed to nearly the top, and the electorate has woken up, going to advance polls in record numbers. (Remember that distant past day when Americans went to advance polls in record numbers to vote for Obama? The turnout was highish that election, and maybe we can take advance polls as in indication that it will be so in this election.)

So what's going to happen? Suppose the Conservatives, the Liberals, and the Bloc each lost twenty seats, and the NDP took all of them. (Impossible, but just suppose.) Then the NDP would have nearly one hundred seats, a lot more than the Liberals at 56, but the Conservatives would still have more than either. However, the Libs and NDP could almost form a government without the help of the Bloc. If Layton were PM, would Ignatieff be Foreign Minister? But who would be Finance Minister? A decimated Liberal Party couldn't claim that post, surely?

A game changer in Canadian politics?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Election

I’ve been out of the country a lot these last few weeks, and perhaps I am not catching the Weltgeist, but this feels to me like the most boring federal election in history. Is anybody really caught up in it? Politics in the US may be vicious and destructive, but here I find it hard to find anybody who wants to talk about the election. Is it because Canada is so well-governed that the outcome doesn’t really matter? Perhaps no issue really divides us. Could it be that the leaders are deliberately turning away from the issues? Or is it that our largely immigrant population has not yet caught on to Canadian electoral politics?

However that might be, Stephen Harper is running this election on competence. Which is odd, because you wouldn’t think that this is a winning strategy for somebody who leads one of the least competent governments in Canadian history. With a few exceptions, we have a Cabinet of dunces, extremists, and partisans. Lawrence Cannon is Foreign Minister and seems only peripherally to be conscious of the vast drop in Canada’s international prestige under his (and his predecessor, Maxime Bernier’s) watch.

  (Bernier lost files by leaving them at the apartment of his girl-friend, a motor-cycle gang chick, shown above.) Peter MacKay, the Minister of Defence, is mostly known for his dashing love life—he made a pass at Condoleezza Rice on national TV, and was rewarded by being called “the nearest thing to eye-candy on the diplomatic circuit” by the New York Times.

Peter van Loan (International Trade) and John Baird (House Leader) are known for their slashing partisanship, Gary Goodyear (Minister of State for Science and Technology) questions evolution. And so it goes.
            The Government itself is not known for its savvy. In the last couple of years, it got economists all over the world riled by eliminating a meaningful Census; it fumbled away Canada’s position as the leading supplier of medical isotopes; it lowered the Goods and Services Tax and eliminated Canada’s budgetary surplus just before that surplus was badly needed to bail us out of the fiscal crisis; it compounded this mistake by introducing Tax Free Savings Accounts; it has an anti-crime agenda when crime is on the decline; it couldn't get elected to the UN Security Council. Oh, and Harper says that this is not the time to discuss whether Canada will lend its support to reforming male primogeniture in England (as Canada must, if it's to change.) (The Government also seems homophobic, though in such a quiet way that one could be mistaken.) It’s hard to say what positive thing this Government has achieved in five years: governing with a minority, it is mostly concerned with politics. Competence? And yet, the campaign is working.
Conservatives (Blue) lead comfortably
  It all points to 145 seats for the Conservatives, a little short of a majority.