15 October 2008

Reflections on an election

Well, another federal election has come and gone north of the 49th parallel, and as my friend Pete pointed out, it seems as though Canadians were more interested in the one taking place south of the border. General apathy, voter disinterest and a repeat result marked this election. In my opinion, if something is not done quickly, the Canadian populace risks becoming irrelevant. As it is what you have come to expect from me, voila, a list of random thoughts on the election:

  • At around 60% it was the lowest voter turnout in Canadian history. I had heard that since WWII, Canada ranks 83rd in the world in voter turnout. Shit, I didn't even think that 83 countries voted!
  • This number is especially scary, considering that the election took place during the biggest financial crisis in nearly a century. Even a world wide economic collapse could not stir the rumbling beast that is voter apathy in Canada. I blame the start of the NHL season.
  • Even more scary is the fact that Canadians do not realize the extent to which our Prime Minister has power over us. Indeed, the PM of Canada is perhaps the most powerful leader in the Western world. Although not actually defined in Canada's constitution, the PM essentially has the power to appoint the Governor General (our head of the military by the way), all members of Cabinet, the vacant seats on the Supreme Court, vacant seats in the Senate, all heads of Crown corporations, every Deputy Minister, all ambassadors, and literally thousands of government appointments. The executive branch, is in fact, THE government, and controls all.
  • This was the first election in the Western world following the collapse of the markets. Not surprisingly, a right of center party won the election. Given the very low turnout, this would indicate that voters had little or no reason to feel a need for change. And, voila, there was no change. The Conservatives still have a minority, albeit a larger one (which really means nothing by the way).
  • The Bloc Quebecois garnered 9.9% of the vote, which translated into 51 seats. The Green party garnered 6.9%, which translated to exactly zero seats. I have said it before, and will say it again, we need some form of representative government.
  • In the current political environment, it is very unlikely that any party will be able to form a majority government. But this should not be construed as any form of weakness on the part of our system. History has shown that minority governments can be quite effective at governing. In fact, it is pretty easy to argue that our previous government was working fine - so why did we have this election? Well, on the bright side, if the previous government worked fine, then the results seem to indicate that the "new" government will work fine - or at least as fine as the previous one.
  • Speaking of "new", finally Harper will no longer be able to refer to his government as the New Canadian government. Indeed, we saw in this election that Harper basically has very few ideas. The Conservatives won last time on the back on Liberal corruption. Without this to "harp" on, Stephen had very little to say. Generally accepted as a poor leader, his main opponent Stephane Dion, was the main reason for the Conservatives victory. Basically, Canadians could not accept Dion as the PM, nor could they accept his Green Shift approach.
  • The Liberals worse showing (in terms of popular support) in their history, may be the start of a collapse, or may simply be reflective of a poor decision on their leader.
  • Certainly, the left of center parties will most likely have to converge at some point, if our current system is kept.
  • In the end, the numbers tell the story. The NDP increased their vote by 0.8%, this translated to a 23% increase in seats. The Conservatives took 38% of the vote, which means about 1 in 4 Canadians of voting age voted for them. Or 1 in 6 overall Canadians (the kids have to count for something).
  • If the politicians are searching for reasons for such utter disdain for voting, perhaps they should look in the mirror. Over 50% of our population is female, yet only 63 (or thereabouts) women won seats. I don't have the numbers for aboriginals or other minorities, but I'm such that they are not represented to the degree that they represent. Old white guys with antequated ideas, that is who runs our country. Luckily, they are at least Canadian, so they haven't done anything overly stupid, which is more than I can say for the leader south of the border!

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