Editor: Canadian general elections normally have one or two key issues. To the exclusion of all the other just as important issues that live in our hearts, these few issues are being discussed and repeated ad nauseam during a much too short campaign, by leaders of the largest parties.
Individual candidates of those parties, those for whom we actually vote as MPs, simply regurgitate what they have been told to say at all the meetings and photo-ops. We know that these occasions are mostly attended by the party faithful.
“Preaching to the choir” is what that is called. And then there are the baby kissings, senior huggings, construction site visits and ribbon cuttings as well.
Following leaders and candidates are the almost omnipresent media that present the reading, listening and mostly viewing electorate with short snapshots of election promises made by all.
It’s as if choosing between these narrowly phrased, ambiguous and mostly hollow sets of promises is the most important part of the “democratic process” that Joe Citizen participates in.
And the leaders’ debates? I do not consider them educational and worth viewing. We get an overdose of politics anyway, including mudslinging. Moreover, there are the hockey playoffs.
As an example, the 1988 general election had a single issue — free trade. Nothing else seemed to matter. On other occasions, it was the constitution, the federal debt, Quebec, the economy or foreign affairs, or government scandals.
I guess we have yet to come to grips with what is called “matrix politics,” in which all parties would present their complete platform as a program, with specific policies, so that every voter can make his or her educated decision on where to park their ballot.
Parking is perhaps the best word, because under our silly First Past the Post electoral system, our votes are far from equal, so that the number of MP’s elected never represents the popular vote, or comes even close. Countries with proportional representation pity us.
For this election, I have yet to decide what it is all about, but I think it is a “C word” election. This could mean that it is either a “contempt” election or a “coalition” election.
These two words have perhaps been resonated the most since last week. All party leaders (I mean the leaders of the five parties in the media’s limelight), have used these words. What the other registered political parties in Canada have to say, nobody knows, and will not know. They are micro-parties anyway, right?
I would like to close with an intended pun. I believe Canada needs a sharper government. Because ultimately, a government that is in contempt of parliament, is also in contempt of the electorate.
Jacob de Raadt,