I JUST LOVE ELECTIONS! It's just like Christmas, all the colourful lawn signs,, people all excited, campaign workers knocking on your door singing Christmas carols (okay it's not quite like that).
Anyway,I was wondering how my fellow Canucks were feeling about this, the longest election campaign we've ever had to live through. I must admit, I find it fascinating because it's the first time we've very had a three-way race in Canada, and surprisingly none of the parties have been able to pull ahead of the pack.
I think the Conservatives are still in the game. They were completely thrown off message in the first half of the campaign, with their media events overshadowed by Mike Duffy and the Senate scandal, the recession numbers, The Syrian refugee crisis, and of course Pee-gate and other crazy candidates. I think their biggest misstep was failing to understand Canadian compassion over the image of that little boy's body being carried by a soldier. Rather than show empathy to refugees, they connected it to their platform for greater security as a reason to do nothing and it rightfully backfired. They've implemented some measures in the last few days, but I think their lack of response showed their true colours.
The reason I think they're still in the game is because, even though their campaign got hijacked in the first half, the polls show them still running neck and neck with the other parties. The fact that they are still so close to the other parties after such a dismal start means they can still move ahead in the second half if they can stay on message. The Conservatives have always had their core support of voters who won't consider a 'second choice,' not to mention the fact that they have way more money to spend in the second half of the campaign than the other parties (a reason why they called for the extended campaign).
I think Trudeau surprised me. I don't think he's performed exceptionally well but I expected more blunders and gaffes along the way. He 'sounds' like the former drama teacher that he is, and I found him to be shrill and annoying in the debates. I think the Liberal party has had to move to the left,primarily by the fact that they are the only party that is campaigning on running deficits for several years to stimulate the economy. They appear to be doing this to stake out their own territory after the NDP has moved to a more centrist position. This reminds me of our election in Ontario last year, when the Liberal, in a minority government, wrote a budget that was designed to secure NDP support and keep the government afloat for another year. When the NDP refused to support it, the Liberals ran on a left-leaning budget and the NDP were forced to campaign from a centrist position which disenfranchised many of their core party members. The Liberals benefitted and pulled off a surprising victory and re-established themselves with a majority government (note to self; having Hudak as an opposition leader also helped significantly). Anyway, I think federal Liberals might be hoping for a similar outcome at the federal level. Whether it will work or not, I don't know.
The NDP has surprised me as well. When they formed the official opposition in the last election, I was wondering if they would be a one-shot wonder and find them themselves relegated back to their traditional third place status after the next election. They seem to be holding onto their support in Québec and building modestly in other areas, that they may even form government after the next election. I support the federal daycare program being proposed by the NDP and find it ironic that the Liberals would have the nerve to criticize it. The Libs ran every campaign since 1993 promising to bring in a universal daycare program and never brought in a single space during their entire thirteen years in power. I also don't support the NDP position that a Québec referendum would only require 50% +1 in order to separate from the country. I lived through the last referendum in 1995 where they very nearly reached that number, failing by less than one per cent. Although separatism isn't a big issue on the agenda right now, it may not always be that way, and the NDP promise may reignite the debate. I also find Mulcair has been somewhat vague on balancing the budget. At least the Liberals are upfront and saying they will run a deficit. I need to look over the platform more closely (I'm also not opposed to running a small deficit in order to preserve programs and services). I also find Mulcair is a little cagey on how he will appeal to the environmentalists in his party in regulating the oil sands, when there are a number of party members who only see shutting them down as a viable option. If he can at least bring back the environmental assessments to new projects that the Conservatives scrapped it would be a good start.
I think the election victory might come down to the undecided voters. My feeling on this is that many of these people are likely vacillating between the Liberals and the NDP. The Conservatives have their core support but I don't think there is much more room for them to expand their base. I think a lot of Canadians are still unsure about the Liberals or the NDP, but they want desperately to get rid of Harper. The other significant factor in close races is which party is most organized at getting their supporters out to the polls on voting day.
It's also possible that no party will pull ahead and this three way race will continue right up until election day, and we'll have a minority... something for a government. Then we might have to consider the possibility of the formation of a coalition government. Interesting times!
Questions to consider (or ignore, say whatever you want)
So how do you feel about the election so far?
Has any party exceeded your expectations or disappointed you?
How do you rate the performance of the leaders?
Are there any campaign platforms you find appealing or bogus?
What are the most important issues? Has any party addressed them to your satisfaction?
Any predictions for election day?