Rick Howe was interviewing the organizer of an upcoming all-candidates’ debate on poverty issues. Three of the four major parties, the man told the News 95.7 talk show host, would be sending a representative.
“Let me guess which one won’t,” Howe cut in.
He didn’t have to guess.
Neither do you.
An hour before what was supposed to be another all-candidates event in Bridgewater last week, Gerald Keddy, the riding’s Conservative incumbent, gleefully tweeted: “Heading to a special event with Senator MIKE DUFFY!!! It’s going to be a wonderful evening.” The special event was not the one at which he might be grilled publicly on his performance or his party’s views; it was a private hob-knob fundraiser with Tories in Chester Basin.
Is this any way to run an election?
It seems to be.
Parties leading in the polls traditionally run risk-averse campaigns. But Harper’s control-freak control team have taken that calculatingly anti-democratic strategy to new, demagogic heights. No discussion, no debate, no mistakes.
Not that they do it well. The Tory campaign has careened wildly out of control from day one. Consider Bruce Carson. Consider Bruce Carson gain. And again. Throw in leaks about G20 spending and heavy-handed prime ministerial political interference in appointments. Don’t forget all those supposedly vetted Tory candidates who keep popping up to support the Tamil Tigers, or jump out of the Air India bombing closet, or claim credit for cutting funding for Planned Parenthood and boy-just-wait-until-we-get-our-majority…
So why do the polls still say Stephen “Five-questions-time’s-up-on-to-the-next-staged-invitees-only-photo-op” Harper will form the next government—and might actually win a majority?
There are lots of reasons, but let’s pick one. Our electoral system encourages targeting swing ridings rather than campaigning for broad support, which discourages people from voting in ridings where the outcome seems a foregone conclusion, which will then encourage Harper, should he prevail, to claim we’ve given him a mandate to do what he will.
Here’s one small antidote. Vote. Even if you’re in a riding where it won’t change the result, every vote is one more that says I-didn’t-vote-for-this-so-don’t-pretend-I-did.
If nothing else, you’ll have earned your right to sport the sticker: “Don’t blame me, I voted for…” It’s not much but it’s something.