Well, here we go -- another federal election. I'm predicting another Conservative minority government, which probably won't surprise many people. What is surprising, though, is that it's happening at all. There's a distinct lack of scandal, outrage, protest and disdain in Canada right now... there are challenges that we have to deal with, but all things considered, we're doing pretty well at the moment. My hope, then, is that this is going to translate into a relatively clean campaign.
With that in mind, I'd like to lay down a few points of etiquette.
Rule #1: Political parties are not evil.
If I may be honest with my socialist soul, the Conservative Party isn't going to plunge the nation into a police state ruled by American corporations. That also goes the other way: I suspect that even if the Green Party were in charge, the oil fields wouldn't get driven to bankruptcy by new regulations - not only because the oil companies would still find a way to make things profitable, but also because any such changes to regulation and enforcement would be tied up for years.
It doesn't matter who your MP is, they'll still send your parents a letter congratulating them on their 50th anniversary, they'll still cut the ribbon at a new hospital wing, they'll still wear your local team's jersey. They're all trying to do their best for Canadians, so enough with the name-calling, already. I admit, there are a few under every tent that'll veer towards corruption, hiring close personal friends as "consultants" and whatnot... but that brings up the second point.
Rule #2: There are more people in the party than just its leader.
Yes, I'm predicting a Conservative minority. But will it be the same minority? Likely not. Every riding has its own feelings about their MPs, and even if Stephen Harper is safe with his seat, that doesn't mean his favourite key players will all be available to serve in the cabinet. Will some provinces change their allegiances? Will certain individuals leave their mark, either by their presence or their absence? For an "unnecessary" election, there's still the potential for a lot of change. And speaking of which...
Rule #3: The election is not unnecessary.
Did it have to be *right* now, in early 2011? No. But complaining about this election being unnecessary is wrong for more than just the previous reason -- there's also the plain and simple fact that this is how our government works. Yes, it'll cost $300 million. If they held it in nine months, you know how much it would cost? $300 million. And if they didn't hold one for another three years, do you think they'd just tell everyone at Elections Canada to take some time off?
Don't get too uptight over the "cost to Canadian taxpayers" for this one. I'm relatively certain they made room for this in the budget. Really, there's only one way it would be a waste of $300 million...
Rule #4: VOTE.
The last federal election had the lowest voter turnout in Canadian history. 41% of the people didn't vote at all. Did the government interpret that as a "none of the above" vote, and change their plans to accommodate this silent majority? Or were those non-voters ignored in return?
Not voting is the easiest way to turn political cynicism into a self-fulfilling prophecy. And like I said before, this is going to be a campaign without scandal or outrage. It's entirely possible that as low as the turnout was last time, this year might be lower still. And that scares me.
Right now, Canadian fighter planes are dropping bombs on Libya, in an effort to help bring democracy to a people who found the courage to leave their houses and be heard.
What right do we have to force democracy on others, when we don't even care about it ourselves?