Election Roundup – 4 Weeks To Go

In an attempt to not bombard everyone, and focus only on the Canadian federal election, I have decided to do a weekly ‘Election Roundup’ featuring some of the highlights and lowlights from the previous week of campaigning. I am not sure where the term ‘Election Roundup’ came from, but it popped into my head, and stuck there. These are simply my personal observations from watching the campaign over the past week. I welcome and encourage you to post your own thoughts on the events of the week. Without further ado, here is this week’s edition.

What’s your sign?

  • One of the most visible indicators that an election is occurring are the lawn signs that pop up everywhere. Love ’em or hate ’em, they are an integral part of the campaign process, and the objective is always the same. Get the most signs up, in the most visible parts of the riding in which you are contesting. So I decided to see how easy it would be for me to request a lawn sign from each of the parties (the Bloc excluded, as they don’t field candidates in my riding… *tear*). From the main page of the Conservative, Liberal and Green websites I could request a sign in my front yard in just a few seconds. Find my riding, plug in my address, and voila, a sign should arrive in roughly a week. Oddly enough, the NDP was the only party where I could not find a link to request a sign. There were many opportunities to join the party, or donate (and I suspect if you do either of those two things, you can then order a sign). But without contributing to the campaign, it appears there will be no lawn sign for you!

Why so casual?

  • This first week saw the leaders out and about, touting their party’s vision for the country. One thing that I noticed, after it was pointed out on twitter, is how rarely the party leaders actually wear full suits. Now, it makes sense when they are stumping through a riding to be wearing something more casual than a suit and tie, but some leaders, Ignatieff in particular, rarely even wear a jacket, let alone a tie. I think they are attempting to appear less professional, and more relatable to the average voter, who can see they are a real person, and not just a polished politician. But I seriously wish Ignatieff would do a better job of tucking in his shirts.

Layton’s Health

  • Related to this idea of political image, has anyone else noticed how frail Jack Layton is looking. Now, please do not interpret this to be an attack or negative criticism of Layton. I know he has been battling cancer, and I do not mean to make light of his situation. Regardless of your political feelings towards him, I know we all wish him well with that. But nobody can deny that he is looking thinner than he was in previous years. This is not helped by the fact that he is recovering from hip surgery, and is still relying on the use of a cane when he walks. I cringe every time I see him ascend stairs, because he must be in pain. I give him major kudos for going through with a campaign, because he must be exhausted. However, I don’t think it’s helping the party when Canadians see a leader who appears tired and weakened, and hardly fit enough to be Prime Minister. What are your thoughts on this?

May I please be in the debates?

  • One of the main issues of this past week has been on the topic of debates. We all know that Green Party leader Elizabeth May has been excluded. I honestly do not know where I stand on this, as I can see the rationale behind each argument. Firstly, they have no MP’s at the moment. If we included every party leader that wanted to participate, but had no seats, the debates would have dozens of people. Secondly, they are currently sitting at roughly 4% in the polls. That is not a strong number, and noticeably weaker than in 2008. On the flip side, they have proven that they are a national party, fielding candidates in all (or nearly all) of the ridings. If the Bloc can be included with nowhere close to a full slate, then the Greens should be too. We also saw her included in the 2008 debates, and it in no way harmed the flow of the discussion, so her inclusion again should be without question. The real issue I have with all of this, is that this mysterious “Broadcast Consortium” appears to have no set criteria for determining who gets to participate. Put some rules in writing, and tell us what they are! That way we understand how the decision is being made. It just seems like it’s a bunch of men in a room, picking players for their playground soccer game. In this case, May wasn’t just picked last, she wasn’t picked at all!

Need a loan?

  • The Harper Tories announced they would end subsidies to political parties if reelected. They said it would stop the parties from having large war chests, and wanting to call elections all the time. I feel that this would be a horrible, let me repeat, HORRIBLE idea. The parties need funding from the state for their livelihood. The Conservatives are floating this idea, because they have figured out how to raise money independent from these subsidies. The other parties have not. The Liberals are still floundering after numerous elections and leadership bids. Without this money, the party would be in even worse shape. The NDP, has no means of raising the money that the other parties do, and benefits from this. The Greens have increased their profile, and become more successful, almost solely because of these subsidies. Removing subsidies would mean that the Conservatives war chest would still be full, and there would still be snap elections if a minority parliament occurs again. However, it would mean that the other parties (who would still force elections) would be less equipped to run campaigns, and it would hurt Canadian party competition. It is easy to win when you can outspend your opponent. Not as easy when they can match your money.

There it is, just a few of the items I noticed from the campaigning this week. We still have four weeks to go until decision day. Please post some of your thoughts about the previous week of election action!

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About Chris James

A student of political science at a Canadian University sharing stories of interest on Canadian and American political and social issues.

Posted on April 4, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I think the question of whether or not parties with no MPs should be allowed to participate in debates is a matter of a party’s national significance. Sure, there should be a certain cut-off regarding the influence and importance a party has on Canadian politics, but I think the Green Party has established themselves enough in the public eye (versus other lesser-known parties) and that Elizabeth May should be able to participate. But of course, there’s a little bias there.

  2. I concur on the party subsidy issue. This is a main reason the 2008 election was run, and the “crisis” that ensued after it. The government (Conservative) had infinite amount of financial backing, while the Liberals were left penny-less after adscam and Dion was unable to get the support of businesses to donate to the cause.

    In the end “war chests” should be minimalized considering the access to the internet and the issues, there is little need for tv ads (especially crazy ones).

  3. Scotland_Yard

    I agree with Josh. The Green Party are more legit of a party than the Rhinoceros Party or the Canadian Communist Party. If they can mantain having enough people interested in the party to run in the majority of ridings, they should be allowed to enter debates. If anything, it adds a bit of a different opinion to the debates.

    As for Andrew, I agree as well. I think getting rid of party subsidies would be financial suicide for all the parties except the conservatives. It just helps keep the field level. However, Im getting sick of elections being called so frequently

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