Canada set for January election
What’s already looking like a long and nasty winter election campaign slid downhill quickly Tuesday with Liberal Leader Paul Martin comparing Stephen Harper to a sinister and ambitious Scrooge and the Conservative Leader describing Mr. Martin as the head of a criminal government that steals tax dollars.
Day One of the long campaign — the election date was set for Monday Jan. 23 — was marked by vitriol and sarcasm.
And Christmas is an issue:
So, what do you think of your Christmas present from Stephen Harper?” he asked Liberals at his first campaign rally last night in a restaurant in the Ottawa Byward Market district.
“Just think about it. What family doesn’t look forward to gathering together on Christmas Eve, sipping on some hot chocolate and sharing in the joy of watching Stephen Harper as Scrooge on TV?”
Mr. Harper gave as good as he got, saying in his first campaign address Canadians now have a chance to get rid of a corrupt government that has been “stealing your money.”
And here’s how it all began:
The day began with a formality. Mr. Martin advised Governor-General MichÃ¤elle Jean that his 17-month-old minority government had lost a confidence vote in the Commons Monday night. She was ready, agreeing to dissolve the 38th Parliament and issue electoral writs.
The formalities complete, Mr. Martin emerged from Rideau Hall and immediately went on the offensive, blaming the three opposition parties for an election he claims Canadians don’t want at this time.
Well, maybe, maybe not. Canadians surely aren’t happy with an election campaign that runs through the holidays, but, then, I’m not sure they’re happy with Liberal corruption, a vision-less and direction-less government that tries to buy votes with billions and billions of dollars in pre-election spending, and the stink of stagnation in Ottawa.
This election, I believe is necessary, if only to clear the air and for the country to move beyond a largely lame-duck Parliament where the Conservative Party and the Bloc Quebecois were angling to topple the Liberals even as the New Democratic Party was holding them hostage with a guarantee of confidence-saving votes in return for ramped up spending on social programs. How was that arrangement to last? How long were the Conservatives, out of power since 1993, to hold off?
But if this election is necessary, and if, for our parliamentary system, it’s really no big deal, the election campaign itself is going to be nasty, brutish, and agonizingly long. This, after all, was just Day 1. We’ll have a few weeks of this, then a brief pause over the holidays, then an acceleration of hostility into the election itself.
And the tone’s already been set. There are series issues to be debated, but the Liberals, desperate to cling to power (a loss would mean the end of Martin’s political career and unleash civil war upon the party), will try to terrify voters with the ominous specter of a far-right and un-Canadian alternative (it’s not, but the Liberals like to think they’re the truly Canadian party — they are, but only of the Canada of their own imagining), and the Conservatives will try to hammer home the corruption tag on an admittedly corrupt governing party. Meanwhile, the NDP will promote their elitist socialism in the hopes of picking up a few seats and holding the Liberals hostage yet again (but with more ammunition), and the Bloc Quebecois will couch a separatist subtext in a constant barrage of criticism against Liberal corruption in Quebec, supplementing the Conservative critique even as it uses a federal election campaign to manipulate Quebec’s long-standing sense of victimization, much of it self-inflicted, in the service of its anti-Canadian goals.
So much for the issues.
Who says things are boring up here in Canada?
(Cross-posted at The Reaction. I’m hard on the Liberals in this post, but that should not be taken as a reflection of personal bias. I may eventually show my support for one party or another, but not until closer to the election.)