One Week On
Well the federal election process has been going on for a week now. Four more weeks to go.
For my American friends let me say we do not vote for Prime Minister, the executive head of our government. For that matter, we do not vote for The Governor General , the ceremonial head of our government (the Queen's stand in). In the American system these two rolls are filled by the President. Our system makes it easier to be critical of the executive branch of government without being accused of being disloyal to the country.
We, in fact vote, for local candidates for seats in parliament. They are party members. The party that "wins" with the most seats is asked to form the government and their party leader becomes the Prime Minister. In reality, we act as if we are electing the Prime Minister. Most of the national attention is focused on the campaign of the heads of the various parties as they "attack"one another and put forward their party's platform of programs they will impliment if victorious.
It has been an interesting week in some ways. The three men who lead the older established parties ganged up on the female head of the new party, the Green Party, and supported the decision to exclude her from the national debate on TV. They goofed on this. Canadian are fairminded and there was public "outrage" (we don't actually get outraged. We are too civil for that.) I even took it upon myself to write the head of my party, Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party, to express my disappointment in him not supporting Elizabeth May of the Green Party. When the dust settled the old boys changed their mind and Elizabeth May will be allowed to participate in the debate. It turns out Stephen Harper, The Conservative Party leader had the biggest objections but he reluctantly agreed so he would not be left alone opposing her inclusion.
Stephen Harper found himself apologizing for a couple of dirty tricks by his election staff.
An ad ran questioning Stephane Dion's leadership qualities as the head of the Liberal Party.
In it a Puffin flew by and pooped on his shoulder. Canadians considered this in bad taste so Harper apologized and altered the ad.
The second goof occured after Harper declare the Canada would end it's involvement in Afghanistan for certain in 2011. The father of a Canadian soldier who died in that conflict spoke critically of this decision saying if Canada pulled out before the job was done his son's death would have been in vain. A Conservative staffer sent out an email to reporters saying the father was a Liberal supporter implying he said what he said for political reason. The effort to discredit the father made it necessary for Harper to once again apologize and force his staffer to personally apologize.
Sorry folks! the is as exciting a Canadian politics gets.
Stephen Harper I find embarassing. he is running an American Republican style campaign. For a week before the election was called he was running ads to illustrate what a wonderful "family values" person he was. Others showed him praising the military and showing him visiting the far reaches of the Arctic as if he was doing something for the environment and national security. What finished him for me was his standing and speaking in front of the Canadian Flag, in the American style. By doing this kind of advertizing Harper is saying he is virtuous and loyal to the country. What he is implying is that he is more of a family man, an admirer of the military, more concerned for security and a more loyal Canadian than the other party leaders. His use of the flag is most offensive. It does not belong to him or the Conservative Party. It is a symbol of all Canadians even those running against him. And of course, each of the other party leaders has a family and has high family values. Conservatives are no more virtuous than any one else. Such distractions are irrelevant as to whether their party programs are worth while.
In our political system every day party leaders put forth a party platform in the hope of gaining some national press for their efforts. This has been going on in a predicatable fashion. Jack Layton with great bravado is saying he expires to become Prime Minister. (The New Democrats have never formed the government by usually getting around 20% of the vote.) He probably can best hope to be the balance of power in a minority government. Stephane Dion, the Liberal Leader is trailing Harper and unless something dramatic happenss, wiil not become Prime Minister but will be the leader of the opposition. Gilles Duceppe, of Le Bloc de Quebecois, is trying to make is case as having a role to play in Quebec as a national defender of the separatist cause which is very quiet these days. Finally, Eliabeth May, who has to get herself elected to parliament so she is spending a lot of time in her riding. She certainly won public support and press over her determination to be included in the national TV debate. I look forward to her fresh voice among the boys.
I don't expect the weeks ahead to get much more exciting. For that I can tune in the US melodrama.