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Here’s one cure for election fever

Three years of minority rule is taking a toll on politicians, media and, most of all, us. Enough.


 

Here’s one cure for election feverHere’s the sad truth about minority government: we’ve had it for five years now and we’re not getting any better at it. Elections, coalitions, prorogations—watching our politicians trying to manage a minority is like watching a labradoodle trying to land a jet or David Caruso trying to act. My fellow Canadians, it’s time to face up to a disturbing fact: we are starting to make Italy look stable.

Sure, the prospect of a minority government was exciting back in 2004. It was the first one in 25 years. But the thrill has worn off as it does with all novelties, like leg warmers and environmentalism.

Nowadays, minority government isn’t working for anyone. It’s not working for a public that seems turned off by all the unsavoury side effects, including endless political gamesmanship and Jack Layton being relevant. And it’s certainly not working for reporters. Since 2004, the media have devoted an estimated 105 per cent of their time to predicting the date of the next election. October! Novemberish! Wait, can I phone a friend?! Election speculation has become our national pastime, displacing the old pastimes of watching hockey and ignoring new Alanis Morissette albums.

Politicians aren’t handling it any better. Look at what minority government has done to Michael Ignatieff. Sure, he’s an improvement over Stéphane Dion, in that Liberals now believe it’s possible for their leader to make a decision without consulting more people than were killed in the film 300. But Ignatieff has stumbled trying to discern the nuances of minority combat.

First, he went with tough talk and brinksmanship—but that had a downside (accusations of recklessness). So he shifted to conciliation and restraint—but that had a downside (accusations of bwock bwock BWOCK!). Finally, he napped all summer long but that had a downside (hilarious bed marks on face). Now the Liberal leader is starring in a series of ads in which he greets Canadians from a forest, presumably to coax them into exchanging their current government for a bag of magic beans. Just plant ’em in the ground and watch the Liberal culture of entitlement regrow!

(The forest is a curious setting given Ignatieff’s message, isn’t it? The Liberal leader talks about his vision for an ultra-modern Canada capable of taking on China and India, yet he’s surrounded himself with all the fast-paced energy and dynamism of . . . trees. Maybe I’m missing something and there’s a high-tech factory of Keebler elves in the background.)

Three years of uncertain government have taken a toll on the Prime Minister, too. Sure, Stephen Harper has betrayed or backtracked on pretty much every promise he’s ever made, which is very majority of him. But he’s also been reduced to finding new and ever less plausible ways to convince Canadians that holding an election is risky.

This time around, he’s warned it will threaten critical stimulus spending. He’s warned it will “screw up” the economic recovery. He’s warned it will allow woodland blonds to eat up all our porridge and break our chairs. More recently came the hysterical threat that an election might delay the processing of home-reno tax credit cheques. All that’s left now is for Harper to inform Canadians he simply does not have permission to fight another election, preferably in the form of a note signed by Juan Epstein’s mother.

Harper is also trying to convince us that a fourth election in five years would take an emotional toll on the country—that the arduous chore of hoisting a pencil and using it to choose a whole entire candidate would lead to a nationwide outbreak of Post-Election Stress Disorder, an affliction characterized by a pale, spectral population roaming the streets in a daze, randomly marking X’s on telephone poles, automobiles and our slower-moving dogs.

This isn’t the Stephen Harper we know and . . . well, let’s leave it at “know.” Avoidance doesn’t suit him. But that’s what a minority does to you. It takes away your confidence. It reduces your options. Going into political battle without a majority is like entering a slap fight with one Clay Aiken tied behind your back. No matter what you do, you just can’t win outright.

Yet minorities are becoming ingrained in our federal political culture. If something doesn’t change soon, voters at campaign rallies are going to start chanting, “Four more months!”

Enough already. Whenever the next election comes, let it end with a majority. Sure, a majority government—be it Liberal, Conservative or . . . gotcha, Jack! You thought I was going to write “NDP” there, didn’t you? You’re cute—will lead to widespread corruption, unbridled hubris and quite possibly the sight of Sheila Copps emerging from her Michael Ignatieff costume, cackling, “Now I’ve got you! Now I’ve got you all!!!!!

But given the alternative, we could all use four peaceful years of arrogance, deceit and de facto dictatorship right about now.


 

Here’s one cure for election fever

  1. “It’s not working for a public that seems turned off by all the unsavoury side effects, including endless political gamesmanship and Jack Layton being relevant.”

    LOL. You’re a cruel, cruel man Scott.

  2. legwarmers will never loose their thrill.

  3. Unfortunately a majority could be even scarier than what has been going on now

  4. very

  5. remind me again why we spend billions on univeral education? Half the population can't bother to vote, the other half barely understand what's going on, and the whole population whines about taking a full 10 minutes out of their day to mark an x. Abolish high school, pay off the debt, and pick the MP's out of a hat, save another 300 million.

    • Because the alternative would be worse…..I'm pretty sure it would be worse…..well, somewhat sure…..

  6. Sure, a stable majority government might be better for Canada. But half of us want a stable Conservative majority government, while the other half (including me) don't. And Quebec prefers voting for the Bloc to voting for either of the parties which could conceivably command a majority, All of this is why we have an endless series of minority governments.

    At this point, a majority government would leave large chunks of Canada unrepresented, and possibly left to bear the brunt of any spending cuts that are likely to occur.

    And Stephen Harper seems to be asking for a majority in order to end all this endless partisan squabbling – which he and his party are mostly responsible for. To me, it feels like rewarding bad behaviour.

  7. Sure, a stable majority government might be better for Canada. But half of Canada wants a stable Conservative majority government, while the other half (including me) don't. And Quebec prefers voting for the Bloc to voting for either of the parties which could conceivably command a majority, All of this is why we have an endless series of minority governments.

    At this point, a majority government would leave large chunks of Canada unrepresented, and possibly left to bear the brunt of any spending cuts that are likely to occur.

    And Stephen Harper seems to be asking for a majority in order to end all this endless partisan squabbling – which he and his party are mostly responsible for. To me, it feels like rewarding bad behaviour.

  8. Sure, a stable majority government might be better for Canada. But about 40% of Canada wants a stable Conservative majority government, an equal amount (including me) want a stable majority government that is not Conservative, and Quebec prefers voting for the Bloc to voting for either of the parties which could conceivably command a majority, All of this is why we have an endless series of minority governments.

    At this point, a majority government would leave large chunks of Canada unrepresented, and possibly left to bear the brunt of any spending cuts that are likely to occur.

    And Stephen Harper seems to be asking for a majority in order to end all this endless partisan squabbling – which he and his party are mostly responsible for. To me, it feels like rewarding bad behaviour.

  9. Sure, a stable majority government might be better for Canada. But about 40% of Canada wants a stable Conservative majority government, an equal number (including me) wanta stable majority government that is not Conservative, and Quebec prefers voting for the Bloc to voting for either of the parties which could conceivably command a majority, All of this is why we have an endless series of minority governments.

    At this point, a majority government would leave large chunks of Canada unrepresented, and possibly left to bear the brunt of any spending cuts that are likely to occur.

    And Stephen Harper seems to be asking for a majority in order to end all this endless partisan squabbling – which he and his party are mostly responsible for. To me, it feels like rewarding bad behaviour.

  10. Sure, a stable majority government might be better for Canada. But about 40% of Canada wants a stable Conservative majority government, an equal number (including me) want a stable majority government that is not Conservative, and Quebec prefers voting for the Bloc to voting for either of the parties which could conceivably command a majority, All of this is why we have an endless series of minority governments.

    At this point, a majority government would leave large chunks of Canada unrepresented, and possibly left to bear the brunt of any spending cuts that are likely to occur.

    And Stephen Harper seems to be asking for a majority in order to end all this endless partisan squabbling – which he and his party are mostly responsible for. To me, it feels like rewarding bad behaviour.

  11. Sure, a stable majority government might be better for Canada. But about 40% of Canada wants a stable Conservative majority government, an equal number (including me) want a stable majority government that is not Conservative, and Quebec prefers voting for the Bloc to voting for either of the parties which could conceivably command a majority, All of this is why we have an endless series of minority governments.

    At this point, a majority government would leave large chunks of Canada unrepresented, and possibly left to bear the brunt of any spending cuts that are likely to occur.

    And Stephen Harper seems to be asking for a majority in order to end all this endless partisan squabbling – which he and his party are mostly responsible for. To me, it feels like rewarding bad behaviour.

  12. Sure, a stable majority government might be better for Canada. But about 40% of Canada wants a stable Conservative majority government, an equal number (including me) want a stable majority government that is not Conservative, and Quebec prefers voting for the Bloc to voting for either of the parties which could conceivably command a majority. All of this is why we have an endless series of minority governments.

    At this point, a majority government would leave large chunks of Canada unrepresented, and possibly left to bear the brunt of any spending cuts that are likely to occur.

    And Stephen Harper seems to be asking for a majority in order to end all this endless partisan squabbling – which he and his party are mostly responsible for. To me, it feels like rewarding bad behaviour.

  13. Sure, a stable majority government might be better for Canada. But about 40% of Canada wants a stable Conservative majority government, an equal number (including me) want a stable majority government that is not Conservative, and Quebec prefers voting for the Bloc to voting for either of the parties which could conceivably command a majority. All of this is why we have an endless series of minority governments.

    At this point, a majority government would leave large chunks of Canada unrepresented, and possibly left to bear the brunt of any spending cuts that are likely to occur.

    And Stephen Harper seems to be asking for a majority in order to end all this partisan squabbling – which he and his party are mostly responsible for. To me, it feels like rewarding bad behaviour.

  14. But Harper wants an election. With his party high in the polls he will play this right and pretend he doesn't want one, when really he does, and BOOM, election and the Conservatives get a majority. It's his plan!

  15. I liked that reference to the best TV show ever *Welcome Back Cotter*

  16. Let's face it, the last time Canada had a truly trans-national federal government was the Mulroney government. Some parts of Canada may be unrepresented if one or the other party gets a majority? Tough, welcome to Alberta's place at the table.

  17. There is no way that Mr. Harper and the Conservatives will ever receive a majority. You might think Canadians are stupid – just wait until that time when the voter is in that voting booth all by his lonesome, and thinks of the consequences of what a Conservative majority means. No way, ! No Siree!!. No matter what the polls are now saying at the moment!

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