Choose carefully now, you hear? - Macleans.ca

Choose carefully now, you hear?

Scott Feschuk has the lowdown on the political parties—and the Greens, too

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Choose carefully now, you hear?

Reuters; Getty; Rex Features; CP; Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

As I write these wurds an electon seems iminent, which is why I’m crrying and cant seee to spel corecktlee. Five weeks of empty promises, apocalyptic rhetoric and Stephen Harper using every photo op to sing the chorus to All You Need is Love: where’s a nice absolute monarchy when you need one?

At this critical juncture, let’s take a closer look at where the parties stand.

Conservatives. They’re ahead. And they’re increasingly emboldened by the fact that none of their mistakes, gaffes, fibs, lies, ethical lapses or John Bairds seem to be cutting into their popularity. There’s speculation the Conservatives feel so bulletproof they may actually let Bev Oda talk.

Meanwhile, election preparations continue. New attack ads are being shot. The war room is being staffed. And Cheryl Gallant’s mouth is being escorted to an undisclosed location.

New Democrats. Jack Layton recently underwent surgery, but unless it was to implant some bionic charisma—or a cool robot arm so he can flash a politically unprecedented Tri-Thumbs Up—he and his party seem destined to remain stalled.

Despite token efforts to get with the times, the NDP hasn’t moved beyond believing that government should be doing something to help everyone do anything. And so most people continue to figure that if New Democrats ever got their hands on power, the federal treasury would overnight come to resemble the Vegas hotel room in The Hangover.

In perpetual opposition, the only hard choice that New Democrat MPs ever need to make is whether to wear the suit that’s 12 years out of date or the one that’s 12 years out of date and brown.

Greens. I’ll be the one to ask it: what is the point of the Greens? I mean, they’re adorable and everything, but so are pandas—and pandas don’t give us a hard time about the light bulbs we choose.

Do the Greens exert influence on government? No. Do they take votes away from more popular parties on the left? Yes. Can anyone name a single Green candidate other than Elizabeth May? Other than Preachy McCompost, no.

Don’t get me wrong: the Greens are a lovely group of well-meaning people who forgot to brush their hair this morning. But their existence serves to undermine the political viability of the principles they believe in. They’d be better off as a movement, not a party. They could throw their financial support and volunteer efforts behind environment-minded candidates with a real shot at toppling Conservatives. As it stands, the Greens are planning a 2011 campaign that has zero impact—on both the environment and the election.

Liberals. This magazine put Michael Ignatieff on the cover last week and essentially depicted him as brain dead, testing as never before the theory that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. In defence of Maclean’s, the editors did NOT draw a pointy devil’s beard on his face or write “has cooties” alongside a big arrow pointing to his head. You’re welcome, Iggy.

Ignatieff could hardly have been surprised by the cover. Pretty much nothing’s gone right for him. He seems unable to shake the impression that he’s the Dean Wormer of Canadian politics, a stuffy tight-arse who is doomed to be served his comeuppance.

Using attack ads, the Conservatives have thoroughly diminished Ignatieff. But they still have money coming in, so it’s only a matter of time until they further erode the Liberal brand by badmouthing former party leaders: “Wilfrid Laurier claimed the 20th century would belong to Canada. But we finished third at best. LAURIER: A BIG FAT LIAR.”

Liberals have been held hostage by their unpopularity for so long now that they’ve come to accept it, even embrace it. They have upbeat answers for every dispiriting truth—strange, upbeat answers—Hey, look, we appear doomed to lose big in an election. So let’s have an election!

It’s odd: the less support the Liberals have, the more potential they believe they possess. It follows that only when they sink into the teens will they believe the conditions are right for a return to Liberal majority.

Still, you can’t blame them for wanting to take their shot now. Better the ass-kicking you fear than the daily wedgies you’ve come to know.