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Canadian Federal Election Thread
September 10, 2008 4:02 PM   Subscribe

Harper has called a federal election in Canada for October 14, 2008, ignoring his own fixed election date law. Polls predict another minority Conservative government. It will be the third national election in just over four years.

Harper is promising to pull our troops from Afghanistan by 2011, although the Taliban would like us to withdraw right away. Meanwhile, Layton is promising to invest in the manufacturing sector and Dion promises to bring back the federal court-challenges program. Other key issues include the economy and the carbon tax.

Major parties:
Conservative Party of Canada
Liberal Party of Canada
New Democratic Party of Canada
Bloc Québécois
Green Party of Canada (despite not having any seats currently, they will be in the debates)

CBC's list of ridings
posted by joannemerriam (98 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Can someone explain (in a few sentences) the reasons behind the rise of Harper and the Conservatives and the decline of the Liberals since Chrétien retired? What happened?
posted by Auden at 4:14 PM on September 10, 2008


Auden, it would have something to do with the sponsorship scandal involving the Liberal Party, and I suspect also something to do with our exposure to American media and the shift towards the right south of the border.
posted by Hoopo at 4:18 PM on September 10, 2008


Green Party has a seat currently. It's Blair Wilson.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:21 PM on September 10, 2008


The Liberals were caught with their pants down in a perfectly-timed (for the opposition) scandal. In a four party system, the small shift of a few percentage points in just the right timeframe yielded the somewhat surprising Reform/Conservative victory as a weak minority government: the other parties all split the we-hate/fear-the-Conservative vote.

I don't think there has been a measurable move to the right overall in Canada. Remember, there are THREE left-of-center parties and only one on the right. It's just that last time out, the 37 percent or whatever it was mattered more, since the Liberals, NDP and Bloc all split the rest. If the Liberals had a more "marketable" leader this time, it would be easy to imagine them not only winning but re-taking a majority. As it is, Harper may get another chance just because "he hasn't really screwed anything up yet, after all."

Signed, a Canadian expat who won't be around to vote this time.
posted by rokusan at 4:25 PM on September 10, 2008


And the Liberals had a nasty internicine leadership squabble. Dion was the fall-back candidate for everyone.

I supported him at the time, but he's not grown into the job.

Give the libs a stronger leader, and they'll be back in the driver's seat: they do tend to be the natural governing party of Canada, for all that Harper keeps referring to them as "one of the opposition parties".
posted by jrochest at 4:39 PM on September 10, 2008


Auden: The shift to the right has more to do with Liberal's scandals and the way Canada's political system is structured than an actual rightward shift in the overall electorate. There are in actuality many more leftists than conservatives.

Damn shame for all us American political hacks who would have gladly moved to Canada for a while to help with their election. Why couldn't they just wait until we're done with our thing? What will they do without our fear-mongering and smear tactics? The thought of a substantive issues based debate makes my testicles shrink.
posted by willie11 at 4:45 PM on September 10, 2008


As a first-time Canadian voter, I'm not hugely impressed by the field. When Canadian politics is not being stultifyingly dull, it's extremely stupid.The leaders are hardly great personalities: Stephen seems very dim, Stephane is your high school guidance counsellor, Jack's a bit strident (but has a dapper 'tache) and Elizabeth looks like a groundhog.
posted by scruss at 4:50 PM on September 10, 2008


It's unfortunate that the FPP misrepresents the Green Party. Congratulations to them on making it into the televised national debates, despite the Conservative/Bloc/Liberal whining.

The Canadian left is very splintered right now, and finds plenty to disagree on, while the right is strong and unified and very good at depicting themselves as centrists. The Green/Liberal relationship is looking quite promising, though, and the NDP can go rot for all I care, they seem to be choosing populism over idealism these days.
posted by mek at 4:51 PM on September 10, 2008


The Taliban would like us to withdraw right away

Thus demonstrating that the Taliban are more concerned about this election than most of the Canadian public.


(Shamelessly stolen from the Current)
posted by Adam_S at 4:51 PM on September 10, 2008


scruss, you missed a summary of Duceppe, so I'll provide one: those eyes
posted by Adam_S at 4:58 PM on September 10, 2008


The thought of a substantive issues based debate makes my testicles shrink.

That's so not going to happen so long as Harper's in the debates. He's one of the worst for grandstanding and blather. I mean, not as bad as some in his party (like Stockwell Day, who when confronted with an actually logical question from a student freezes like a deer in the headlights), but still pretty bad.
posted by jb at 4:59 PM on September 10, 2008


there are THREE left-of-center parties

Whoa back there, dude. There is one way-right-of-centre party, one rightish-centrist party, and two left-of-centre, but one of those two is very much a provincial-only concern.

Don't map the American "everything that isn't guns-n'-Jesus is lefty!" line onto Canadian politics. The Liberals are centre at most; "left" is spin from the Reforrrrmm!!!! Conservatives.
posted by Shepherd at 5:02 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Man, I miss the real Progressive Conservatives. Any chance we could get them to come back?
posted by the dief at 5:13 PM on September 10, 2008


Congratulations to them on making it into the televised national debates, despite the Conservative/Bloc/Liberal whining.

Just to clarify: It was the Conservatives, the NDP, and the Bloc that wanted them out. The Liberals supported them all along.
posted by rocket88 at 5:19 PM on September 10, 2008


And for anyone interested, this is how the campaigns are being run already.
posted by Hoopo at 5:25 PM on September 10, 2008


Stephen seems very dim, Stephane is your high school guidance counsellor, Jack's a bit strident (but has a dapper 'tache) and Elizabeth looks like a groundhog.

At the risk of reacting to Canadian-baiting, I am proud of the relative awkwardness of our leaders. We tend not to get too caught up in personality cults (most of the time), and instead elect parties based on their platforms (or our regional interests. Sigh)
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:40 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hoopo: Well, that'll keep mine swingin low and happy... for now.
posted by willie11 at 5:44 PM on September 10, 2008


...the rise of Harper and the Conservatives...

You say this as if it's some aberration of history to have a Conservative government in Ottawa. Mulroney managed it just fine. Although the Liberals have been the dominant party in the past century, every once in a while we got tired of them and kicked 'em out. Usually there's a Bennett or Diefenbaker or Mulroney to fall back on for a while, and this is Harper's turn. There probably would have been one earlier, except the PC party imploded for a while, then took some time to Reform then get their CRAP together before jettisoning their Progressive elements.

I can't wait until this most recent fixation with the right is done. Can't see it happening while Dion's in charge, though, because Layton's not a realistic option.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:49 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


We tend not to get too caught up in personality cults (most of the time), and instead elect parties based on their platforms (or our regional interests. Sigh)

Good point. It's probably worth pointing out for American MeFites that Canadians never check a box for "Harper" or "Layton". Instead, everyone votes for their local representative, and whichever party elects the most of those chooses the new Prime Minister. Technically, it doesn't even have to be the current leader, though it almost always is. It's closest to a congressional election in the US, if Congress then chose the President.

So I think a lot of people vote for their local MP because "she's done a great job for my neighborhood/city/whatever", or out of habit, regardless of party or leadership.
posted by rokusan at 5:50 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


(I meant to say that as a possible explanation why someone who might not vote for "Harper" if given the direct choice might still vote for their local Conservative, thereby indirectly electing Harper anyway.)
posted by rokusan at 5:51 PM on September 10, 2008


The shittiest part about this whole election, is that Harper has carbon taxes to be his wedge issue, and he looks to win by it, though it's early. If he does, he'll poison the whole debate over carbon taxes, and we'll never be able to implement a strategy that econ-omists, oil sands tycoons, even right-wing ideologues are calling the best approach to beat climate change.

(I'm just bitter because Harper offered to REDUCE fuel taxes today. The opportunistic fuckwad is trading our planets survival for a chance to win a majority)
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:53 PM on September 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


On the topic of Canadian leaders are boring, the truth is our system is designed to favour the boring. We see these guys getting raked over in question period on a regular basis, and a politician with a fairly radical agenda would be lambasted in a daily screaming match... justified or not.

A few other observations:

The international right/business interests have very little use for Harper... The Economist for example never says anything positive about him.

Stephane Dion has nothing to gain here. I can't figure out why Liberals would want an election, except for an excuse to dump their leader - and yes, they are not a left-wing party - they are a centrist party of corporate interests with a leftist element at best.. Running on the greenshift is delusional.

I would like the Afghanistan mission a lot more if I knew what our goals there are, and if we are meeting them. Right now, Afghanistan is looking like, well Afghanistan and we are looking like the Soviets.

I'd like the NDP to be the opposition, but I think Layton's social democratic model is unworkable.. although I think there is hope for social democracy in Canada.
posted by Deep Dish at 6:04 PM on September 10, 2008


Oh yeah, here is wild prediction: We will have a carbon tax in the next few years, and the Conservatives will implement it... free trade.. the GST... conscription... the Bennett New Deal... all Tory babies. The Libs are never good at massive shit-disturbing.
posted by Deep Dish at 6:07 PM on September 10, 2008


So I think a lot of people vote for their local MP because "she's done a great job for my neighborhood/city/whatever", or out of habit, regardless of party or leadership.

I don't think that's the case. In Canadian parliament, party members MUST vote according to party dictates or be kicked out of their party in order to finish out their term as a powerless independent — unless one of the other parties will have them. So it really, really matters who the leader is because he or she will make the final call as to what the policy will be. I think more people decide which party to vote for based on who the leader is rather than who their MP will be.

As it is, Harper may get another chance just because "he hasn't really screwed anything up yet, after all."

Harper's been on a short leash. With a minority government, he didn't have enough seats in Parliament to push through any Bills against opposition from the other parties — they could unite forces and defeat whatever Bill had been tabled. Obviously by calling another election this soon he's hoping to get a majority government. I hope he won't. No way do I want him getting free rein to do what he wants.
posted by orange swan at 6:17 PM on September 10, 2008


Good point. It's probably worth pointing out for American MeFites that Canadians never check a box for "Harper" or "Layton".

Despite that, Harper is running ads nationwide with people saying "I'm voting for Stephen Harper." Well, maybe if you live in Calgary Southwest, I guess.

the PC party imploded for a while, then took some time to Reform then get their CRAP together before jettisoning their Progressive elements

I see what you did there.
posted by Hoopo at 6:30 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure no one has yet mentioned the (pulled) Harper ad in which a puffin defecates on Dion's shoulder. Classy.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:48 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Adam_S: the Bloc aren't exactly fielding too many candidates in the GTA, so I ignored Duceppe.

Popular Ethics: As a Canadian voter, how can I canadian-bait? All the parties seem to be freewheeling, pretty much guaranteeing nothing useful will change the status quo.

POGG seems to have mutated to become a form of avuncular dishonesty where the environment is to be raped, where indigenous human rights are wronged, and Canadians still fight and die for someone else's empire.
posted by scruss at 6:57 PM on September 10, 2008


With a minority government, [Harper] didn't have enough seats in Parliament to push through any Bills against opposition from the other parties — they could unite forces and defeat whatever Bill had been tabled

One would think, but in reality it hasn't really worked out that way. Harper has essentially governed with completely impunity while the Liberals were too afraid to make a move. He's "survived" something like 40 confidence votes and passed a handful of budgets.

Although I'm afraid of the potential, I can't imagine things would have gone drastically different had he had a majority.
posted by Adam_S at 7:25 PM on September 10, 2008


Incidentally, the Puffin is the provincial bird of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Danny doesn't like his peoples' bird being used like that.

I am fully serious when I say...

"DANNY WILLIAMS FOR PRIME MINISTER!"

A couple great quotes:
- "A Stephen Harper majority would be one of the most negative political events in Canadian history."
- "You won't hear Stephen Harper admit he may win a majority government because he is terrified that people might actually stop and think about the consequences. Well, I beg you all today — stop, think and decide if that is what this country deserves,"

Apparently Williams will be taking his "ABC" (Anything Butt Conservative) campaign across Canada over the next few weeks. He could very well have an impact.
posted by SSinVan at 7:45 PM on September 10, 2008


Pop E: Hell yes. I would like to see an ABC (anything but conservative) campaign ad featuring a cute couple backpacking around the world (complete with sewn-on Canadian flag). A short montage of them waiting forever for service at a cafe, being denied at a hotel, some old lady yelling at them... then a fade to this.

Nobody's going to like the big carbon emitters as climate change gets worse. What will our great-grandchildren (100yrs) say when
every coastal city in the world is underwater?
posted by anthill at 7:51 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The last big interglacial melt raised sea levels 7 meters. one meter per century is not out of the question.

Harper is targeting very small issues.
posted by anthill at 7:57 PM on September 10, 2008


Although I'm afraid of the potential, I can't imagine things would have gone drastically different had he had a majority.

Really? Those confidence votes were chicken-shit issues to call matters of confidence. It's not like he tested any major Canadian social values with them. I'm pretty sure he's got a file of "majority-only" policies in waiting. Elected or abolished senate being first on the list so his agenda can be carried-out unabated by "sober second thought."
posted by SSinVan at 8:04 PM on September 10, 2008


You realize we have never had so much media and information than we do now -- more TV news channels, Internet news sites, blogs, what have you and the irony is we don't need any of these spewers because all the candidates in this election are just mediocre wimps with no vision or plan -- and that's all you need to know...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:13 PM on September 10, 2008


Reading about Williams prompts this question: what role do provincial pols usually play when it comes to a federal election? I know that the party alignments are often very different, but is it usual for a provincial premier to do this sort of stuff?

One other point: some form of proportional representation for the House of Commons -- the alternative vote is the obvious choice -- would presumably doom the Conservatives to opposition forever, but would also make it less likely that the Liberals would gain an absolute majority. The NDP, BQ and Greens would love it. Would the Liberals join a coalition at the cost of an electoral reform bill?
posted by holgate at 8:20 PM on September 10, 2008


Deep Dish: On the topic of Canadian leaders are boring, the truth is our system is designed to favour the boring.

Then explain Pierre Trudeau? The most exciting politician (that wasn't batshit off-the-rocker) of the latter half of the Twentieth Century, if you ask me. Certainly not boring, anyway. Admittedly he's been a hard act to follow.
posted by Kattullus at 8:29 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's unfortunate that the FPP misrepresents the Green Party.
posted by mek at 7:51 PM on September 10


I'm really sorry I missed the one Green candidate in the House. I wasn't trying to misrepresent the Green party; I guess I was looking at an old source.

So far there's no Green candidate in my riding (Dartmouth-Cole Harbour), at least according to the CBC. I'll be interested to see who they run against Michael Savage, the incumbent.


Signed, a Canadian expat who won't be around to vote this time.
posted by rokusan at 7:25 PM on September 10


You know you can vote absentee, right?

I love Elections Canada. I called them to change my address two years ago, just before the last election (I live in the U.S. and vote absentee), and expected an automated system. Instead I got some guy saying, "hellobonjour" (I miss that so much!) and when I explained that I lived in the U.S. and had moved, he said, "oh, you need to talk to Greg" (or whatever the guy's name was). I was utterly charmed by the lack of bureaucracy. And I got my ballot on time at the right address, too.


So I think a lot of people vote for their local MP because "she's done a great job for my neighborhood/city/whatever", or out of habit, regardless of party or leadership.
posted by rokusan at 8:50 PM on September 10

I think more people decide which party to vote for based on who the leader is rather than who their MP will be.
posted by orange swan at 9:17 PM on September 10


I wonder if there's a regional difference here, or something. I've always voted for the person first, party second (although, a close second). Last election, I really liked two of my choices, and made the decision based on who was most likely to defeat the Conservatives, but generally I vote for the person. For years, Wendy Lill was my MP and I really liked her and voted for her every time, despite not being terribly keen on Alexa McDonough.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:32 PM on September 10, 2008


Harper is not a Conservative, he's a Reeeeformmmm douchebag. The Conservative party died and the Refoooormm party stole their name.

In provincial news, dickface Gordon Campbell has decided BC won't have a government this fall. Our legislature is out until February. What an arrogant, destructive bastard.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:43 PM on September 10, 2008


Well, I have issues with Trudeau... lots of them.... but I will grant he was an interesting figure and carried out some major changes. That said, Trudeau is swimming in a sea of caretaker politicians....

I might add that Trudeau owed a lot in terms of policy to the NDP, and his celebrity (or at least his appreciation) did not extend to Western Canada.... I am a bit young to remember much about Trudeau, but he was (is) positively reviled by my family and neighbours - that subsided a lot when he died, but people here call the Greenshift the new "NEP" and it draws a huge emotional response 30(?) years later.

I also wonder if his pop-culture press wasn't because of Margaret and the Rollling Stones.... PET was pretty much a recluse late in life.
posted by Deep Dish at 8:52 PM on September 10, 2008


Joe Clark on the Green Party debate and the Canadian election in general:
I am not a supporter of any of the existing federal parties, including the Greens. But I am alarmed, and surprised, by how tightly the government now controls Parliament, how easily parties put their own interest ahead of the public interest, and how mean our public debate has become.
Bring back Joe!
posted by mazola at 8:59 PM on September 10, 2008


Who?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:03 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Joe Clark? I have an only-in-Canada story. I ran into him standing in an airport.. waiting for his daughter, all by himself. Since I rarely run into to former Prime Ministers, I stopped and said hello. He is a nice guy.

I can't imagine running into an unguarded George HW Bush, or Maggie Thatcher.
posted by Deep Dish at 9:03 PM on September 10, 2008


I ran into John Turner in an airport -- while he was PM -- and just walked up and shook his hand in the middle of a press scrum.

I imagine if that scene played out a few years later I would've been in a chokehold by the sitting PM.

Is there any security in Canada?
posted by mazola at 9:14 PM on September 10, 2008


Is there any security in Canada?

Famously (and horribly), we rely on the Prime Minister's wife to fill that role.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:23 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


That is a quintessentially Canadian story.
posted by mazola at 9:26 PM on September 10, 2008


SSinVan: Elected or abolished senate being first on the list so his agenda can be carried-out unabated by "sober second thought."

Out of curiosity, what is the justification for not wanting an elected senate? How is it better to have a large mass of appointed-for-life people who, last I checked, essentially rubber-stamp most things that go through?

I realize that whole 'sober second thought' thing is a valuable idea; don't get me wrong. But what is wrong with the idea of these folks being elected? How is the current system beneficial to anyone other than the senators themselves?
posted by vernondalhart at 9:27 PM on September 10, 2008


The Senate is perfect as is. It systematizes patronage. Patronage happens and it will either happen above-board -- like the Senate -- or as political appointments to positions where people have real power and little ability.

I'll take the Senate.
posted by mazola at 9:34 PM on September 10, 2008


" The Conservative party died and the Refoooormm party stole their name."

It is like fingernails on chalkboards for me when I hear the media call them Tories. Why the hell did they start doing that? Stephen "God Hates Fags" Harper is not a Tory.

"In provincial news, dickface Gordon Campbell has decided BC won't have a government this fall. Our legislature is out until February. What an arrogant, destructive bastard".

That is especially arrogant after giving themselves a huge raise. The next election is on May 12, 2009, so even when they do come back they'll be a lame duck government. Still, I think they'll get another majority, albeit smaller.

A reminder tofellow BC'ers - we have another referendum on BC - STV in conjunction with our Municipal elections in November. If it gets 60% of the province-wide popular vote, we'll have proportional representation in our next government! In the 2005 election, it got 57.7% but needed 60% in every single riding.
posted by SSinVan at 9:35 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the CBC they're talking about the image make-over for Stephen Harper and how it's so far successful as making him look like an approachable person.

This thread has reminded me when PMs were approachable people.
posted by mazola at 9:42 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the federal front, Globe n Mail says NDP support in BC has doubled.
posted by binturong at 9:43 PM on September 10, 2008


vernondalhart:what is the justification for not wanting an elected senate?

Well, I am not entirely opposed to a little reform. I would support elections if they still had lengthy terms. It is not sober second thought if we are re-electing a full senate every few years. It is the grey hair in there that has "seen it all" that keeps the government of the day in check.
posted by SSinVan at 9:46 PM on September 10, 2008


I was particularly impressed and proud that the leaders of three federal parties and a consortium of media reversed themselves on the issue of having Elizabeth May (Green leader) in a debate -- based apparently solely on a public uproar that made their original position a no-win for them. Democracy in action baby. May be only possible where the population is relatively small and somewhat united on matters of fairness at least.
posted by binturong at 9:47 PM on September 10, 2008


what is the justification for not wanting an elected senate?

And also we do not have elected judges. I think the idea is that we reduce the corruption that comes with all the money-raising and jockeying for position that comes with elections and try to appoint people on merit. Patronage appointments do happen but they're obvious to everyone and by and large a balanced tit-for-tat as different governments get to appoint so it evens out. Some senators are even wise and good choices!
posted by binturong at 9:55 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


SSinVan - Fair enough. I occasionally hear a surprising amount of vitriol to the concept of having elected representatives there, which simply baffles me.
posted by vernondalhart at 9:55 PM on September 10, 2008


I live in Libby Davies' riding in East Van.

I'm going to be torn when it comes time to vote because I'd love to vote Green to give them some cash, NDP to support a candidate who is a shoe-in (60% of the vote) and is a Lesbian like most of my neighbours. But, I'm a Liberal.

What to do???
posted by SSinVan at 9:58 PM on September 10, 2008


Joe Clark? I have an only-in-Canada story...

My Ottawa-area high school had an internal digital TV station. Occasionally, they'd run an ident was was Joe Clark saying "I'm Joe Clark, and you are watching Cougarvision." "

My old art prof, from the same school, claims that a retired Chretien once tried to retrieve her baggage for her from the plane, seeing as she was hugely pregnant. She described him as affable but completely unable to find her luggage. (Insert legacy joke here.)

Popular Ethics: I never heard about that. Weird. It reminds me of the shock I experienced when I realized how MASSIVELY HUGE the Secret Service must be.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 10:01 PM on September 10, 2008


What to do???

Well, SSinVan:
- give money to the Green party and get a tax receipt
- vote liberal
- be happy when the shoe-in NDP wins the seat
posted by binturong at 10:02 PM on September 10, 2008


On the CBC they're talking about the image make-over for Stephen Harper and how it's so far successful as making him look like an approachable person.

I do not understand why the CBC is giving blowjobs to the Conservatives this election cycle. WTF?

As if "making him look" like a human in any way makes up for him being a grade-A smeghead who is using American-style tactics to deceive the public. FFS, CBC, get back to real journalism.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:08 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, I got quite a kick from that episode of Mercer Report where Bob Rae was shown skinny-dipping. I'll vote for a nudist each and every time, just for the irreverency of it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:11 PM on September 10, 2008


During the Liberal party leadership campaign last time around, I remember Bob Rae coming into the coffee shop at which I worked to meet with a group of "young liberals". The weirdest part about the whole affair was that despite never having seen that many photos of him, I instantly recognized him. I don't really know why that was.
posted by vernondalhart at 10:13 PM on September 10, 2008


Well, SSinVan:
- give money to the Green party and get a tax receipt
- vote liberal
- be happy when the shoe-in NDP wins the seat


Hmm, sounds reasonable. Done. And, it is a true ABC approach!
posted by SSinVan at 10:14 PM on September 10, 2008


I do not understand why the CBC is giving blowjobs to the Conservatives this election cycle. WTF?

That suprises me a bit, they must have shifted gears a bit. I stopped listening to CBC radio because I found it so fawning, and uncritical of the Liberal Party that I couldn't take any of their commentary seriously - specifically around environmental issues and the Greenshift.

I mean seriously, Yes, Chretien signed the Kyoto accord - but he made no effort to implement it... and suddenly we are to believe that in the last few years the Libs and Stephane Dion have become champions of environmental responsibility. The NDP and Greens have been pretty consistent on this for years, and the CBC seemed to be presenting the issue like we live in a two-party system.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:33 PM on September 10, 2008


I, for one, think it's ridiculous that I've only been voting age for 5 years and this will be my third federal election. Something's got to give.
posted by sunshinesky at 10:36 PM on September 10, 2008


Yeah, you should have 5 elections under your belt by now. For real.
posted by mazola at 10:41 PM on September 10, 2008


Yeah, you should have 5 elections under your belt by now. For real.

At 300 million a pop? Let's be honest, the difference between the governments of Paul Martin and Steven Harper has been pretty negligible. I sometimes think we would ban elections if we thought they would change anything.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:46 PM on September 10, 2008


Let's be honest, the difference between the governments of Paul Martin and Steven Harper has been pretty negligible.

And that's only because they were minority governments under constant threat of another election. Minorities rule!
posted by mazola at 10:53 PM on September 10, 2008


Dammit, there's no NDP candidate in my riding, I so should've run.

I do not understand why the CBC is giving blowjobs to the Conservatives this election cycle.

I usually have Newsworld on in the morning and listen to Radio 1 and the podcasts at night, and haven't noticed that, though I have noticed that Don Newman sounds a lot like a drunk Dan Rather. I would like to punch the CityTV "What kinda vegetable would you be?" guy in the fucking face, but I doubt the pr-hack wannabee'd even feel it.

If Dion had any sense*, he'd be running Bush election ads with Harper's face obviously superimposed on Dubya's and accusing him of trying to cripple the traditions of Canadian democracy by Americanizing it with fixed election dates and attempting to create a two-party system by stifling the other parties.
Also, who was for Iraq?

But then again, it's not only the Cons who have to take the blame for that stupid fixed election date.

*Which he doesn't. Two days into the campaign, and I haven't heard anything about health care! This isn't the Canada I grew up in!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:43 PM on September 10, 2008


Just to clarify: It was the Conservatives, the NDP, and the Bloc that wanted them out. The Liberals supported them all along.
posted by rocket88 at 5:19 PM on September 10


Ohmigod, I knew that, I was just typing too fast, thanks for the clarification.
posted by mek at 12:18 AM on September 11, 2008


Yeah, I heard that CBC piece about the Harper "I'm a human! Really!" ads tonight. The ad they played was just cringeworthy. Never mind all the stupid sappy tinkly piano music, which is bad enough, it's all about how important family is and how being a father is so important to him. Blah, blah, blah. God, WHATEVER. I want to hear an ad where he talks openly about his party's awful sexist, racist, homophobic, pro-privatization, anti-poor retrograde agenda...GAH, this man makes my blood boil.

As if "making him look" like a human in any way makes up for him being a grade-A smeghead who is using American-style tactics to deceive the public.

I bloody well agree. No ad that this man appears in is going to make me forget that he's a neocon who sucks up to the US Republicans every chance he gets. His track record on women's issues alone is enough to make me despise him. Under his leadership, the government has shut down Status of Women offices across the country and drastically cut funding for women's programmes. Then they put back some of the funding after enough people made a stink, and they had the nerve to call it "additional funding". They even dropped "equality" as one of the stated goals of Status of Women Canada! I notice it has since been put back, but seriously, WTF. Not to mention the fact that Harper swore up and down that he would not open up debate on abortion, but then we had the Conservative private members' bill C-484, the "unborn victims of crime act," which passed second reading, my God (Harper voted in favour, of course). It's been thrown out now (and I was surprised but pleased to see that Josee Verner, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, voted against it in the free vote), but I don't trust those slippery assholes not to bring something similar back. In fact, before the election was called, making it moot, another member was talking about presenting another, similar bill.

I can't wait for this election to be over. I certainly hope Harper gets the boot, but I'm not holding my breath. I hope at least he doesn't win a majority government.

/vitriol
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:25 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


In Canadian parliament, party members MUST vote according to party dictates or be kicked out of their party in order to finish out their term as a powerless independent — unless one of the other parties will have them. So it really, really matters who the leader is because he or she will make the final call as to what the policy will be. I think more people decide which party to vote for based on who the leader is rather than who their MP will be.
This isn't entirely true. During many votes in the House of Commons, MPs are free to vote as they wish. By tradition, the budget is a vote of confidence, and the government also cracks the whip on legislation it deems "important". This varies by party and leader.

Regardless of votes, however, MPs still do a lot of work outside the House of Commons for their constituents, and people absolutely do vote for their incumbents based on that local work rather than party membership. Such work is rarely mentioned, but it takes up far more time than sitting for a vote.

In many urban ridings there is also a strong ethnic component: the Liberal Party in particular has been expert at finding candidates of a particular ethnicity to galvanize the support of a significant ex-pat community. See for example Mario Silva, a Portuguese immigrant who won the riding of Davenport in Toronto, or Raymond Chan, a Chinese immigrant who won in Richmond, BC.

The party leader is important, and I think many Canadians do feel like their "voting for Stephen Harper", but it's not the only issue at play. Also, anyone voting Bloc Quebecois, NDP or Green is clearly not voting expecting their party to win; they're voting by principal. In that sense, it matters a lot less who the leader is -- Jack Layton may steer NDP policy, but there's not much room for policy in opposition.
posted by attaboy at 2:52 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Despite that, Harper is running ads nationwide with people saying "I'm voting for Stephen Harper." Well, maybe if you live in Calgary Southwest, I guess."

Yeah, about that...

Live there. Vote Green. (Yeah, I know it's useless, but fuck off.) But you're right. Sorry about the neighbours.
posted by converge at 4:08 AM on September 11, 2008


At 300 million a pop?

That's ten bucks a head. The price of two fancy coffees.

Harper/Bush '08!

(would it be illegal for me to post a bunch of signs associating my local MP with Bush?)
posted by five fresh fish at 4:34 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not entirely useless to vote Green in Calgary Southwest. Under Chretien's crazy political financing reform scheme of 2003, parties that receive over 2% of the popular vote receive funding equivalent to about $1.75 per vote. So each vote for Green is more money for the Green Party.
posted by attaboy at 4:43 AM on September 11, 2008


The shittiest part about this whole election, is that Harper has carbon taxes to be his wedge issue, and he looks to win by it, though it's early.

To me it is refreshing to see them talking about something relatively substantial, a new tax policy idea that can be debated on its merits, instead of the leaders just vying to promise the most spending on health care. If Harper does win on the carbon tax issue with his stupid sound-bite nonsensical mischaracterizations of the idea, I will have to give up on Canadian politics. I've yet to see any coherent argument against the idea, though it wouldn't be that hard to come up with one.

Now that Elizabeth May will be in the television debate, there is some chance of a bit more meaningful discussion of the subject making it to broad public attention. She's the only one of the party leaders who both seems able to speak like a human being while on television, and actually has something to say. If she can perform at her best, maybe she will be able to force the others to do something other than empty speechifying, or show them up as the rhetoric-challenged charades they usually appear to be in the big debate events.
posted by sfenders at 5:57 AM on September 11, 2008


(would it be illegal for me to post a bunch of signs associating my local MP with Bush?)
posted by five fresh fish at 7:34 AM on September 11 [+] [!]


I don't see why - if you want to be clear you could always put fine print saying "This is satire, and not an actual CCRAP Conservative party sign".

But who could charge you with a crime for saying that the Conservatives want to Americanize the Canadian political system and have strong ideological (and literal) ties with the American Republican party? At most they could try a civil case of slander/libel, but it's true, so they would lose.

Actually, it's the Americanization which is the most frightening thing to me. We're watching their election system break down under attack ads and voter disenfranchisement and media disengagement -- and Harper just wants to import that to Canada. He wants fixed election dates because it's "normal" aka American. He refused to participate in the press scrum, but insisted on giving American style press conferences. He wanted the media to be "respectful" (aka "spineless"), just like the American media. It's not just about health care - it's about the whole political culture.

We have our own political culture - and though it's not perfect, it's still one of the more well-functioning in the world. We need to stop seeing the American way of doing things as the "normal" way, and the Canadian way as something out of norm. I know that television, films, fiction and the internet doesn't help this, since we're inundated with the cultural models of our very large neighbour who happens to speak the same language as 3/4 of us. But we need to get out of this rut we're in where American=how it should be done (which the Liberals have fallen into in the past), and recognise that the Canadian political culture is normal for Canada, and if we did want to change any part of it, there are a lot more models out there to look at than just the American, many of which are working better right now.
posted by jb at 7:08 AM on September 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


Also, if you put them up in the dead of night, wearing gloves, how will anybody know it was you?


Out of curiosity, what is the justification for not wanting an elected senate? How is it better to have a large mass of appointed-for-life people who, last I checked, essentially rubber-stamp most things that go through?
posted by vernondalhart at 12:27 AM on September 11


I'm one of the passionately-in-favour-of-appointed-Senate people you're asking about (although I can't imagine getting as worked up about it as you describe), and in a nutshell, my feeling is that anything that provides balance to the system is good. Appointments provide balance to elections. If you know that a specific piece of flavour-of-the-month legislation is bad for the country but very popular with the electorate, and you're elected, you're going to pass it out of self-interest. The Senate provides a balance to the House. Make them elected, and they're basically the same thing as the House, so what's the point?


Actually, it's the Americanization which is the most frightening thing to me.
posted by jb at 10:08 AM on September 11


It's deeply disturbing to me as well. The system down here is broken. End stop. Fixed terms allow people to do stupid things early on because they know everybody will have forgotten about them four years later. Two parties allow each party to ignore the majority of the electorate, plus resulting in a win-or-lose situation where there's no motivation for compromise or civility (unlike a system where you're likely to end up in a minority government). It's just broken.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:42 AM on September 11, 2008


joannemerriam -

I do see your point, to some extent, although I don't really think that an appointed senate is the best solution. Where is the accountability? While I know they do suffer some financial penalty for not attending their job, it isn't, last I checked, all that severe. I also realize that not every senator sits at home most of the time, but still.
posted by vernondalhart at 8:23 AM on September 11, 2008


vernondalhart - So what would you suggest? I'd be happy to amend things like what the penalty is if they fail to show up. If you take it as a given that electing them isn't acceptable (because we're trying to have an alternative to the House, not a reproduction of the House), then what's the third option? I don't want an American-style system where everybody's elected and everything's politicized, and the proponents of an elected Senate seem to see the American system as some sort of goal...
posted by joannemerriam at 8:40 AM on September 11, 2008


Someone else suggested upthread (and it had crossed my mind as well) to still have elected senators, but for the terms to be longer. I'm not sure if this would anywhere near be a perfect fix, but it would address at least a few of the issues; there would be a greater expectation of stability on the Senators' part, but there would be the same sort of electoral accountability (albeit, perhaps, at 8 year [or whatever] intervals) that the house sees.

Maybe. This still, perhaps, opens the door to the electoral issues of which you speak.

Maybe set the senate up to run as a proportional representation based on the popular vote for the house?
posted by vernondalhart at 8:49 AM on September 11, 2008


Actually, it's the Americanization which is the most frightening thing to me.


I like the fact that an election can be called and done with in five weeks, unlike the US's horribly ineffiecient process.
posted by chugg at 9:04 AM on September 11, 2008


vernondalhart, other than the attendance issue (which happens in elected bodies too), what is the issue you would be trying to fix by changing how the Senate operates? Is it accountability? Is it something else?

There's another reason I'm against an elected Senate, which I forgot to mention before. I think people get tired of voting so often, and the more things we make them vote for, the fewer elections they'll actually show up for. Changing the Senate to be elected will take some electoral scrutiny away from the House (where I think it belongs).
posted by joannemerriam at 9:07 AM on September 11, 2008


(Because I've always wanted to do this)

Breaking News: Father of slain soldier expresses concern that "irresponsible" 2011 Afghanistan pull out will mean son's sacrifice was in vain; Harper representative Ryan Sparrow notes that Jim Davis supported deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, implying criticism was politically motivated.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:32 AM on September 11, 2008


Also, via Warren Kinsella, it turns out professional canker sore Ezra Levant is working for the Cons.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:35 AM on September 11, 2008


Joe Clark? I have an only-in-Canada story. I ran into him standing in an airport.

Me too, at the Ottawa airport, although I didn't say hello. I also used to walk between the Montreal General Hospital and the Royal Victoria, right past Trudeau's house on Pine. One day I walked past him as he waited on a street corner for the light to change. All alone. I really wish I'd said something but he looked like he probably wanted to be left alone.

p.s. I was surprised at how big Clark was, and how red and shiny his face was. That seems to be something that happens to powerful men, as I've heard Bill Clinton described the same way (something about "red vinyl").
posted by Turtles all the way down at 10:35 AM on September 11, 2008


My old art prof, from the same school, claims that a retired Chretien once tried to retrieve her baggage for her from the plane, seeing as she was hugely pregnant. She described him as affable but completely unable to find her luggage. (Insert legacy joke here.)

This story stands in contrast to a story I once heard from a friend about former PM Brian Mulroney. My friend's dad was an RCMP officer who was assigned to protect Mulroney (sort of like a Canadian Secret Service). Apparently, Mulroney would insist on having the Mounties carry his luggage for him. That is, until the officers reminded the Prime Minister that they needed their keep their hands free to, y'know, protect his life.
posted by kalimotxero at 10:50 AM on September 11, 2008


Someone else suggested upthread (and it had crossed my mind as well) to still have elected senators, but for the terms to be longer.

That would be just like the American system.

Senators do a whole lot, it's just not flashy so we don't notice. They may "rubber stamp" the bills (actually, I wish they acted more actively like Britain's House of Lords, which is become mostly like our Senate), but I believe they also sit on the committees that write those bills, and thus have a lot of influence in shaping them.

Being in the Senate should be like tenure for an academic, which means if they don't do their job (ie aren't there), they can be fired. But otherwise they continue.
posted by jb at 12:17 PM on September 11, 2008


Something I read yesterday or today twigged the thought that Harper is desperately trying to reduce our multi-party system to a two-party system.

If that happens, this country is toast.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:43 PM on September 11, 2008


Harper is desperately trying to reduce our multi-party system to a two-party system.

More like trying to turn our single party state into a democracy, but I agree about the toast part :)
posted by Chuckles at 7:55 PM on September 11, 2008


Out of curiosity, what is the justification for not wanting an elected senate?

OK, I'll say it: a lot of people in North America are idiots. I don't want an elected Senate because a lot of Canadians at any given point are either idiots or misled by idiots treating them like idiots--in all likelihood, myself included. I'm under no illusion that our own "Lords" in the Senate are particularly wiser than someone we could elect, but I think the fact that they don't have to engage in any of this campaign nonsense is a great check on the tyranny of the majority, or even the tyranny of fashion. At the end of the day, do any particular Senators really do anything you object to anyway? Most people couldn't even name one. But given the quality of our current crop of MPs, let alone leaders, can you really tell me that more elected representatives would be a good idea? I'm sorry if I came off like one of these rabid anti-elected-Senate folks discussed upthread. Really, I'd prefer an enlightened monarch.
posted by Hoopo at 8:08 PM on September 11, 2008


Something I read yesterday or today twigged the thought that Harper is desperately trying to reduce our multi-party system to a two-party system.

Was it me?!?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:03 PM on September 11, 2008


Ah, true, true, Hoopo.

However, what's the point of a congress of rubber stamps? Can't we just get rid of the goddamned thing?

(Oh yeah, and any of those monarchist umbilicals which we haven't pulled from our navels yet?)

The last time the senate (I refuse to capitalise that word) did anything remotely interesting was around the time I was born. Screw that patronage bullshit.
posted by converge at 3:01 AM on September 12, 2008


I would, I suppose, also prefer an enlightened monarch. But what guarantees that the monarch-in-reign will always be an enlightened one? What happens when one isn't? I realize that this starts getting a little far from the question.... but most defenses I've seen above (with a couple exceptions, which I'll get to) come down essentially to the idea that were our senators elected, they would look more like our MPs.

But how is them being appointed any better? One issue I have with this was even defended further up the thread---that if one party gets to put in cronies, so does the other! So it balances!

Um, what?

I will concede that when it comes down to it, I have no specific complaints about any particular senators. I don't know what they've done (or haven't done) with the exception of the occasional story about a lack of attendance. I simply don't like the idea of a large, taxpayer funded body that doesn't actually have to do anything.

This isn't to say that they don't; simply that they do not have to. However, it is entirely possible that if they, en masse, abdicated their duties (while still attending, and perhaps playing long games of whyst or something), that there would be much more talk about senate reform all around. Maybe the reason that it is still a somewhat scattershot proposition is that they do much more than I might think. I'll confess ignorance on this part.

I don't like the idea of appointed-for-life politicians of any sort, but I can't honestly name any particular sins this group has committed lately.

One last aside though; what about the idea I half-suggested above, of filling the senate with party-chosen people based on proportional representation? It's sort of a half-way measure, with a decent little bit of proportional representation thrown in, which would tend to, you know, actually give other parties perhaps a little greater voice in the grand scheme.
posted by vernondalhart at 6:38 AM on September 12, 2008


Our senate certainly isn't an election issue. There are issues far more grave with which to be concerned.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:52 AM on September 12, 2008


I'm one of the passionately-in-favour-of-appointed-Senate people you're asking about (although I can't imagine getting as worked up about it as you describe), and in a nutshell, my feeling is that anything that provides balance to the system is good.

This is precisely why the Founding Fathers of the USA formed an appointed Senate.

(We should have some paintings in the US Senate chamber like the ones in the Canadian Senate chamber, too.)
posted by QIbHom at 11:55 AM on September 12, 2008


Comedian cuffed after professing her love for Harper
posted by joannemerriam at 6:42 PM on September 12, 2008


From joannemerriam's link:
To which Harper replied, "You like handcuffs?"
To which I have only one response: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH AAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHH AAAAHHHHH AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHHH AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH AAAAHH AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHHH
posted by Kattullus at 7:06 PM on September 12, 2008


However, what's the point of a congress of rubber stamps? Can't we just get rid of the goddamned thing?

Because they have other functions, and they are a sober second thought influencing bills.
posted by jb at 8:32 PM on September 12, 2008


Christ, remember when 22 Minutes was good? Sometimes I'll catch an episode from ten years ago on the Comedy Channel and have a good laugh/cry.

Far funnier is the CBC's Paul Hunter's somewhat breathless description of Harper's reaction to Thursday's Ryan Sparrow stupidity:
"... so we're all in the bus, and Stephen Harper isn't in the bus, and we're all going after the communications people, saying 'Look, Stephen Harper stakes a lot of his reputation on the Afghanistan file - here's what happened, here's what your guy has said, yes he's been suspended, but we want to hear from Stephen Harper about this,' '-Yeahyeahyeahyeahyeah.'

So the bus goes up to the winery, we're waiting for Stephen Harper to come, and then we're all being told 'Well no, he's not going to comment,' y'know, and we're standing by the door where he's supposed to arrive, the bus pulls up - and the bus keeps going. He doesn't get off where the bus is supposed to stop, it goes to the yards in the back where there's supposed to be this photo op, so all the cameras move over to where the photo op was, and then you ended up with this weird, odd, freaky stand-off, where Stephen Harper was off in the wine fields having the 'photo op', and these cameras are waiting for him to come out - and not moving, so Stephen Harper doesn't move, so it's just, tick, tick, tick, tick, and then the RCMP came in and were sort of told to push the cameras - move the cameras away, and they actually came up to the cameras and started moving [Makes pushy motions], and you end up with this, y'know, bizarre scene where Stephen Harper's, y'know, campaigning for reelection for Prime Minister, is sort of standing sheepishly in the background, instead of coming up and just commenting on this, uh, while the police are just puching the media away, uh... it just seemed kinda unseemly, all because of this - again, because of this e-mail that went out from his communications officer."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:18 PM on September 12, 2008


How did I sleep through this thread?
posted by GuyZero at 11:32 AM on September 18, 2008


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