Excuse me, sir? Is this your writ?

It's on again, folks. Canada Votes 2008 will be plastered all over Canadian television screens and computer monitors for the next five weeks.

The Prime Minister has dissolved Parliament only two years short of his "fixed election date", claiming that, despite being on summer holidays, parliament had become "dysfunctional". Whatever you think of this, the result is the same. More campaigning and recorded telephone calls (hey, at least Jack Layton's actual voice came through my telephone receiver yesterday, and not some blue and orange-wearing lackey thanking us for our supposed support and then hitting us up for a political donation).

Here's a quick update on what's transpired since the last election. Since I don't work for The Man - well, not that one, anyway - I can (probably?) talk about this stuff more truthfully.

  • Stephane Dion has gained very little in terms of popularity but has, to his credit, actually made a move by which he'll actually have to stand for something, instead of just standing against everything the 'government in power' stands for. Score half a point for him. His Green Shift plan may be the sword he falls on, but at least he'll prove he had a sword all this time. That sounded so wrong even as I was typing it.
  • Stephen Harper (Huh. Never clued in on the name similarity) is going to save the economy and the planet and make real improvements to Canada's dismal environmental record in, oh, forty years or so. Wait for it; the globe will thank us. Except for those poor saps who've drowned and/or been blown away by extreme weather.
  • The NDP and Bloc have promised, at every turn, to vote against the government, clearly testing whether Monsieur Dion has a spine. As it turns out, he may not, but schoolyard antics and/or reverse psychology may have accomplished the same end.
  • The Canadian economy has gone from flourishing under a weakening American dollar to succumbing to the slowdown itself, which might be a bad time to call an election if you're the governing party. However, I'm not sure any of the other parties can offer much more sunshine on this front, so maybe it's a moot point.
  • Pollsters and pundits are talking "majority" here. I think of all that's happened since Canada Votes 2006 and wonder just how many more tax cut/rebate/incentive solutions this country could handle.
  • The US election could really change the face of international politics in North America. Or maybe not. (How's that for punditry?).
Watch for my Winners and Losers report after October 14th. In case you missed it last time, here was my synopsis of the last election's results:

Winners:
- Stephen Harper
- The Conservative Party of Canada
- The New Democratic Party of Canada
- High Income earners
- Federalists
- The western provinces (except BC)

Losers:
- Paul Martin (who will step down as Liberal Party of Canada leader)
- Many Liberal candidates and Cabinet Ministers
- Separatists in Quebec
- the Environment

Yet to be determined:
- the Canadian public who expects Parliament to DO something
- parents of kids in day-care, who may get neither their $1,200 yearly allowance or a national daycare program
- the poor, sick, and elderly
- Aboriginals
- Supporters of Gay Marriage
- Women who want the right to choose
All in all, I think I was bang-on with most of these. I couldn't have foreseen the housing collapse and economic slowdown in the US, and the wave of support for our government who managed to stay afloat for a variety of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with political maneuvering. The Liberal Party got their new leader. Quebec remains a part of the federation, though now recognized on paper as a "Nation within Canada". The Universal Child Care allowance cheques have come in monthly, and I've cashed each and every one and handed them over to our daycare provider, whose fees promptly went up about $1,300 per year per kid. Curious, that. Aboriginals receieved an apology for past indescretions and abuses, but not much else. Supporters of gay marriage continue to live in the shadow And while I can't say that Parliament hasn't done anything over the past two years, I wouldn't exactly call what we've seen "progress" -- more like constant mudslinging and election-style party bashing that makes you question just how comfortable the governing party is.

And on we go with the campaigns, which for me becomes a series of unfortunate slogans, accusations, bad photoshopping, and the dumbing-down of hot button issues so that the general public (You know. Morons.) can forget all about making up their own minds and be told what kind of person they'd be if they chose to sit on the wrong side of the fence. Oh, and the mudslinging! The mudslinging campaign is something I never liked about US politics, and given the Conservative Party's eerily similar style to American politics. "So-and-so is not a leader." "The ____ party is not a choice." Forgive my candor, but don't tell me how to vote. If you want to ask for my vote, give me a good reason to mark my ballot in your favour. I'm not as dumb as you think (hope?) I am. Now back off and leave me to my independent thought.

Group therapy is now over. You may go on with your otherwise productive, entertaining, and/or intellectually stimulating lives.

Posted bythemikestand at 9:25 AM  

10 stepped up to the mike:

Echomouse said... 12:26 PM, September 10, 2008  

You did well with your past predictions. I'm really hoping you're wrong this time though.

I really like Dion. I just hate the mudslinging and constantly voting every year or two. At some point, this stupidity has to stop.

canadian sadie said... 1:57 PM, September 10, 2008  

I find it particularly amusing that Harper has called the election because he feels that he cannot get consensus in the House with a minority government. And yet, the Conservatives claim that they expect another minority government.

Which means that we will be campaigning, voting, and putting into power another government (likely the same government) which will be equally ineffective and consensus free. Rather an expensive way to obtain an equally muddy mandate from the taxpayers, I think.

Boggles the mind.

themikestand said... 2:04 PM, September 10, 2008  

I'm not arguing with you on that point, canadian sadie: I'm having enough trouble figuring out how he knows he can't get consensus in the house before the house has even resumed. He's clearly beating them to the punch to save face, when his government has already lasted longer than the 18-month average lifespan of any other minority government. Strange indeed.

And echomouse, I sort of hope I'm wrong, too. And I don't have anything serious against Dion. True, I like him less now than I did before, but I respect his green-ness, but possibly not his basing his platform on a policy that will have its teeth systematically removed as he implements exceptions for truckers, farmers, and the other big emitters who don't want subsidies to replace new equipment with better equipment (which hasn't been built yet to new technological standards) before its useful lifetime.

Phew. I'd better breathe. It's a long campaign.

Steph said... 2:23 PM, September 10, 2008  

This entire thing makes me want to bang my head against a ballot box.

If I see one more ad with Stephen Harper talking about how wholesome he and his family are (except for the part where his son doesn't want to hang out with him as much, which gives me no end of glee - even his kids don't like him), or one more American style shit-slinging ad, I think I might just abscond with my yarn to a remote mountaintop, where I will install myself as divine ruler and where I will while away my days knitting and making absurd laws about the proper length of socks.

At this point, voting has become "Who's the least bad of the worst?"

HalfAsstic.com said... 8:27 PM, September 10, 2008  

Amen.
God. Canadian politics suck just as much as American...

Echomouse said... 2:39 PM, September 11, 2008  

This round of Canadian politics is way too much like the Americans! Same campaign style (Repubs and Cons), same messages (Bush cutting troops, Harper same). It freaks me out.

If it helps, I've spoken with Dion a few times. This man is the only politician with integrity and honesty that I've found. I really don't foresee those exceptions you're worried about. Dion is too above board for that. He knows the Liberal party has too much in their past to do things this way. And he's said as much, saying we deserve clarity and truth in our leaders.

In any case, Dion is the only one I trust. He's getting my vote.

themikestand said... 2:43 PM, September 11, 2008  

Echomouse:
This (and this) is what I was talking about...

Echomouse said... 3:59 PM, September 13, 2008  

Hi Mike,

I can see why it would concern you. All of our past leaders flip flopped on promises. Here's the difference though. Dion actually LISTENS to Canadians. And he responds and works with them, instead of having a heavy hand and his way or no way like Harper.

See this part of the article:-
*************************
Meeting with reporters later, the Liberal Leader said the changes to his environment plan are the result of touring the country over the summer and listening to the concerns of Canadians.

The Liberals promise that the Green Shift would be revenue neutral, taxing carbon fuels but returning the money to Canadians through rebates and tax cuts.

The plan, which was introduced in June, also has a $1-billion reserve for unforeseen changes. That contingency fund would be used to help the farming, fishing and trucking sectors.

"It was a dialogue. It was not only a one-way-street dialogue. Indeed you will see ... the plan will be stronger for the environment, stronger for agriculture," Mr. Dion said.
*************************

I can tell you only of my experience. Two years ago when Dion was running for Leader of the liberals, his campaign chose several liberal bloggers to participate in a Q&A conference call with Dion. I was one of those picked. (I don't blog politically anymore - family health issues need to be attended to) Anyway, there were 2 or 3 conference calls conducted with at least 6 bloggers and Dion on each call. We all asked two questions and Dion spoke to us individually. It was an unprecedented action for a politician.

Dion was honest, straightforward and it was clear, he really cares. Now, his problem was that he was a Professor. And he worked in government but as an admin support role. He has learned that ideas on paper need to be put to Canadians first. So that's what he has done. All through his leadership.

That's why I'm voting for him. I think that is why Elizabeth May likes him too. Because they are both upfront, above board political leaders. Unlike Layton and Harper and ... that Duceppe twit.

Just trying to help explain. You don't have to see my point or agree with me. I just really dislike the media representations of Dion, lead by Harpers characterizations of Dion, and it's not been fair.

themikestand said... 9:19 AM, September 15, 2008  

echomouse: Don't be shy; tell me how you really feel! :)

You know, it's not that I don't like Dion -- and from an economic and environmental standpoint, a carbon tax and cap-and-trade system has to be implemented. I'm just noting the fiscal challenges of doing it right now in this political and financial climate. So I feel for the plight of the Libs, and I abhor the characterization of Dion as a flip flopper, "not a leader", etc. But he's never been in a good position to force this election, and he's (I'm sorry) unlikely to be in a great position after it's over.

Echomouse said... 1:17 PM, September 16, 2008  

LOL I was trying so hard not to appear as a partisan fanatic! :) I'm not. Really. I was going to vote NDP and I have never voted NDP. So I started reading up on the issues and now, I can't stop reading all that crap. Gah!

I hear you about Libs and Dion. Today - true funny - Bob Rae spoke somewhere ahead of Dion. They're travelling as a team now! lol Anyway, Bob Rae said something, I don't know what, and ended with "that's what I did in Ontario". I nearly DIED. The absolute worst thing Rae could do is remind us Ontarians of what he did to us! I laughed.

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