“The next 37 days,” he said, “will be some of the most crucial… in our history.”
At the outset, the story was the Liberal campaign jet. Or the distinct lack thereof. But oh how far we’ve come from then.
From Stephane Dion’s hearing problem to Stephane Dion’s chipped tooth to Stephane Dion’s fondness for floor hockey. From one Conservative candidate’s religious beliefs to another Conservative candidate’s criminal record to a Liberal candidate’s Hitler references. From a digital puffin digitally pooping to the Prime Minister’s declaring himself a fruit. Not to mention, Elizabeth May and the nearly boycotted debates, the Huang family, a 6am briefing, Michael Ignatieff with an assault rifle, Dionbook, Scandalpedia, the Taliban and now, worst of all, a lobbyist.
It hasn’t been a total loss, these first few days. There have been moments of substance and legitimate insight into the party leaders. But at a time when more resources than ever are being given to election coverage there has been great amounts of nonsense to go round.
In a way the start of this campaign seems merely an extension of the 39th Parliament—one defined by partisan nonsense and lowest-common-denominator language. The difference being that now there’s some serious amount of attention being paid to the spectacle. Odds are the proceedings improve from here. But it’s somewhat tempting to wonder what might happen if it doesn’t get any better. If things only gets worse.
For all the periodic laments for the recent decline of democracy in Ottawa, it was mostly background noise for those not obligated to follow it. And so to some degree it would have been a shame if all the parties involved (and you can include the press gallery) simply shaped up for the duration of a campaign like godless heathens putting on some nice pants for church. To some extent, it helps for everyone to see and understand just how inarticulate this business can get.
But if you were generally unimpressed with the last Parliament, ask yourself this: what are the chances that the next Parliament is any better, any less divisive, any less insulting, any less intellectually dishonest than the one just past? And, if it’s not to be any better, how much worse does it get before something happens to change the situation? Does it, for that matter, ever change?
Maybe Ottawa’s doing just fine. Maybe it’s always been like this. Maybe it’s just evolving like everything else in society. Maybe it’s better that we don’t take our politics so seriously. But if these 37 days are to be crucial in any way, they will be as much about defining the kind of politics we get as much as the policies and the person in charge.
Anyway. Enough of that. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go keep an eye on that puffin, make sure he’s keeping his excrement to himself.