The journalistic implications of fixed elections… dates


Mr. Baillie, I must, respectfully, disagree.

Last week, on the eve the possible election call that preceded the eve of the likely election call which was, thankfully, finally followed by the actual election call, Conservative leader Jamie Baillie declared that, if elected, he would introduce legislation to set fixed provincial election dates.

Once derided as a sign of the “Americanization” of our politics, fixed election laws — er, make that fixed date election laws — are the law of the land in Ottawa and every province and territory except our own.

Let us leave aside, for the moment, the undoubted public policy wisdom of pinning the tail on an election day.

Let us also leave aside the unlikeliness that Baillie, third in public opinion polls and holding, will form a government any time soon — and the even more likely unlikeliness that any party will form a majority after the next polling day, making the fixing of a next election day a temporarily-at-least parliamentary moot point…

Let us consider instead the journalistic implications of such a sea change in the way we do our political business.

What would political reporters speculate about? Editorialists wax wise about? The chattering classes chatter about?

Think about the last four years. Save for its first year in office when we were all too busy fretting about the implications of electing our first ever socialist government — before we realized they were really John-Hamm conservative progressives in orange drag — the non-story that has gotten the most ink inevitably is election speculation.

Does the premier’s photo-op announcement of a new bed in a senior’s home in Necum Tuech signal the start of the next campaign? Has the latest poor poll result put paid to a certain election call next week? Will the NDP now off-with-Dexter’s head in hopes a new leader can change their fortunes? Is the premier’s sudden weight loss a sign an election is imminent?

Without an election to speculate on, what would journalists do on all those news-less days in the depths of summer?

Perhaps we would be forced to focus instead on the heavier lifting of reporting on public policy…

Hmmm, Mr. Baillie. Perhaps you are on to something here.

Let the campaign begin.

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