March 31, 2011

Election Dysfunction

Elizabeth May must feel even worse than the proverbial spindly geek always chosen last for sports teams. Poor Ms. May is not even allowed to play with all of the big kids as they ready themselves to over each in mid April. The Green Party leader is now complaining to all who will listen, a move that, unfortunately, makes her look whiny.

I miss the real federal election television debates of the 1980s. Who will ever forget the Turner/Mulroney debate of 1984, during which Mulroney eviscerated Turner with a devastating retort on patronage: "You had an option sir to say 'no' and you chose to say 'yes' to the old attitudes and the old stories of the Liberal party," Mulroney argues. "That sir, if I may say respectfully, that is not good enough for Canadians." It was Mulroney's election after that moment. I am no Tory but at least it was an intelligent and well-structured debate.

The tv debates of the past number of years have been embarassing and frequently ridiculous. Poor moderation has enabled the party leaders to shout talking points at one another. In the "debate" pictured above the leaders sat around a table; a format that worked for none of them to the distress of participants and viewers alike. If we continue to lower the standards of public debate how can we expect our party leaders to perform admirably? Indeed, Ms. May might want to consider herself lucky she has not been invited.

Meanwhile, the Harper campaign has upped its dreadful attack ads. The most recent one hammers the viewer with the premise that the Liberal party leader is merely an opportunistic glory whore and ends with the ominous warning "A vote for the Liberals is a vote for Ignatieff". Frankly, I have never met a politician who wasn't part glory whore, so I am not sure why this is supposed to frighten the electorate.

The c-word has also been dropped, considering Harper himself once conceded in the past that it might be necessary. Besides, he may even need it in the future.

We learn that some notable folks are leaving the NDP to endorse the Liberals; a sensible strategy if one is hoping to help form a new governing party. No one but the wilfully ignorant doesn't understand that this election boils down to Mr. Harper vs. Mr. Ignatieff. Layton and Day, both lovely people and good citizens, are merely bystanders yelling into the wind. 

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