25 August 2008

Election Fever v.235

The Canadian media has long been obsessed with an election; this is not news to anybody that has turned on the TV at any time since about March 2006 (they gave the Conservatives something of a honeymoon after their January win). There have been daily suggestions that the opposition will topple the government or that the government--in defiance of its own professed desire to govern until the fixed election date in September 2009--will indeed manufacture its own demise to head to the polls in search of a majority against a weak-willed and indecisive Liberal leadership. Consequently, people have largely tuned out, burned out about election talk after numerous false threats and empty promises that we'd be heading to the polls at any time with our five-weeks notice. It's a sad state that people are sick of an election when the election has yet to actually take place; the only thing one can compare Canada's election fever to is the hockey world's never-ending wait for Mats Sundin to make a decision about his playing future. You can be sure that, in both cases, when the trigger is finally pulled and a concrete decision made, people will sigh a collective sigh of relief, say "it's about time that's over with," and finally be able to get on with their lives.

It is with all of this election impasse in mind that we turn to today's latest threat, this one coming from "senior Conservative sources." Supposedly we are now to believe that the Prime Minister is ready to go as early as September 5th, paving the way for a Thanksgiving election. You can insert your turkey jokes here. I'll begin with former Liberal "star candidate" Marc Garneau's proclamation that the Conservatives want an election now so that they can avoid talking about issues like the economy. Now, I realize that because once upon a time a Conservative Prime Minister said that an election is no time to talk about policy issues, therefore all Conservatives believe that an election is no time to talk about policy issues. But, come on, can we get serious for just a moment? Has Mr. Garneau not paid an ounce of attention to what's happening in the United States? The majority of airtime these days is devoted equally to how many houses John McCain owns and the economy! It's like 1992 all over again: it's the economy, stupid! If Mr. Garneau honestly believes that the economy won't come up during an election campaign, well, he's just another talking turkey.

Do I honestly think that there will be a Canadian election in 2008? No. I didn't think there would be one in the spring, summer, or autumn of 2007 when everybody in the media was banging that particular drum, nor was I eager to go for a winter or spring 2008 election. Here's the thing: the Liberals, the media, the Conservatives, the talking heads, just about anybody in the political class these days, has called the election wolf so many times that it's near-impossible to believe that this time they're actually serious about an election. What makes right now so different than June 2007? There's nothing that suggests the Conservatives or Liberals can score a majority, or that the result would be vastly different than the current status. So what would be the point? It all seems like much bluster and little real action. But this is to be expected, because when you're a turkey, nothing you say actually has to make sense.

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