What will Dion’s legacy be? The historically low voter turnout helped weaken the Liberal party and possibly end Dion’s career as its leader. I hope not. Dion is a good man for this country. His poise under the tremendous pressure of the past two years from Harper, Layton and the media, as well as his vision and policies, have convinced me that he would make a excellent Prime Minister.
Why did so many people stay away? I feel that the reason why so many people did not vote was due to the lack of attention on the issues by the media. They barely questioned Harper’s reason for calling the election and didn’t really challenge him when Harper and Layton tried to prevent May from participating in the debates by threatening to boycott them. The media allowed Harper to dictate the format and change the structure of the debates (which were almost a waste of time because it allowed Harper to just sit there and not speak) and they also avoided asking him the tough questions about his platform and the comments made by his MPs (Ritz’s joke and Richardson’s comments about immigrants).
CBC’s Canada Votes was a bad joke. The commentator was completely biased. It was obvious from day one that the CBC was pulling for Harper. When callers made comments that supported the Liberals, they would be cut off, the commentator would make strange comments about her life or something else to change the topic. She also spent a great deal of time laughing instead of informing the public on the issues. When a caller asked her to go to the Liberal’s web site and use the Green Shift calculator to test how easy it was, she just brushed the caller off. The CBC actually had a fortune teller on the show to predict the outcome of the election… It was really quite silly.
In fact, the bias that the media had towards Dion was apparent to me when he revealed his Green Shift plan this past summer and sat through a rough interview with “Canada’s foremost environmentalist and economist” Wendy Mesley (!?!) of the CBC, whom I found was very harsh with him. Her famous last words to Dion during the interview were “What if you’re wrong?” I thought it was strangely hostile from the CBC to be seemingly so mistrusting and critical of Dion’s green plan based on all the issues that had gone wrong with Harper’s government over the previous 2 1/2 years (lack of media contact, general belligerence towards the media, backing out of Kyoto, income trusts flip flop, canceling women’s programs, canceling the Kelowna accord, canceling the National Day Care program, no figures on the war in Afghanistan, the intrigue surrounding the Cadman affair, Mulroney, Bernier, the surplus disappearing, the Finance Minister suggesting that the province where the nation’s capitol resides, is not a good place to invest…)
CTV has been just as biased and might have cost the Liberals the election by releasing a portion of a bizarre interview question that even most English speakers did not understand. The interview was taped and Dion had trouble understanding the question. Dion asked the interviewer to redo the session and he agreed. Normally that is the end of the story, but in a purely malicious gesture, designed to mock and further humiliate the Liberal leader, the segment of the tape showing a confused Dion was released to all the media outlets in the country. I don’t know if the redo was released, so we do not know for sure, how he actually answered the question. It seemed as though the situation was created on purpose to belittle Dion. It was shameful, tabloid journalism. CTV also broadcasts the show Etalk where their official car has been the “Hummer” through much of the past season – The statement speaks volumes on how the owners of the Canadian media and the Conservative government have weakened the discussion on the issues of the environment.
Harper stopped what he was doing (did someone send his team a copy of the tape?) and had the only late evening address to the media throughout the entire 30-plus days of the campaign to mock and criticize Dion for his confusion during the interview. Normally these things are not released because everyone makes mistakes during a recorded interview. This was released over the last weekend of the campaign when the Conservatives were losing ground… Smells pretty bad from this end.
Other notes: the Economist endorsed Harper for Prime Minister and there was also weekend summit of world leaders and finance ministers. Conservative Finance Minister Flaherty attended the international meeting (after Harper had repeatedly stated throughout the campaign, that everything was fine and that we were in good financial shape) to deal with the financial crisis over the last two days of the campaign. Miraculously, the TSX had a huge gain on the day of the election. Canadians stayed home in record numbers with only 59% of eligible voters showing up to vote. The Liberals lost 19 seats from the last election and Ontario gave the Conservatives 50 seats on their way to winning a second minority government.
The day after the election, the TSX dropped hard and has continued to fall…
This was one of the most bizarre elections I have ever seen. The media spent more time attacking Dion than actually finding what Harper wanted to do for the country. The Green Shift isn’t a new tax. It’s about giving Canada new jobs, lower personal income taxes, shifting the tax we are charged on our paychecks to pollution and giving us a rebate too.
People would not have lost their jobs. Payroll taxes would have been lowered. There were plans to help Canadians modernize our homes, investments for new technologies and money for the infrastructure in our cities. The Auditor General was going provide an annual report to be sure that the Green Shift was revenue neutral, meaning that the government would not take in more money from the program than it returns to the population.
Now Harper gets another chance to destroy our health care programs, cut funding for social groups, families, give out more money to oil companies and hurt the economy with the secret war budget…
Only 21% of Canadians (35% of 59% = aprox. 21%) voted for Harper. The following is just some of his plans for Canada. I do not recall anyone in the media mentioning these issues during the campaign. What else don’t we know?
To the Green and NDP supporters: Layton is 4th and May isn’t even on the chart. Hopefully her party will get at least one seat in a by-election but next time, don’t throw your votes away. It almost handed Harper a majority. Proper strategic voting (1. Voting to support the non Conservative candidate and 2. voting for the next choice after the Conservatives, in ridings where they held seats from the 2006 election) would have easily defeated the Conservatives. Canada would have had a Liberal minority, supported by the NDP and a possibly, a couple of Green seats too. It was only a matter of 20,000 to 25,000 total votes to completely reverse the results in favour of the Liberals. What happened on Tuesday was really sad for our country. We have spent so much time laughing at the USA for their choices and now we have gone and voted the same way they did over the past eight years…
Let’s hope that it only lasts for a short time (less than two years). Canada is going to go through a real test on how strong this country is. Harper wants to change the country beyond recognition into small, separate, polarized regional areas like the United States has become and it is going to take a lot of determination to stop him from doing that. Ironically, Obama might help bring Americans together on a level that hasn’t happened for many years. Canadians seem to be drifting apart into different political and social camps, due to Harper’s tactics and help from the media.
Here are some ideas to encourage a higher voter turnout: All businesses should close at 1 pm on election day. Many people work half days on Christmas Eve, even if they do not celebrate the holiday. Why not give voters a half day off, so that everyone can vote? Canadians who work in schools, hospitals and daycare facilities could vote in the advanced polls or in shifts, giving the staff 4 hours off to vote (3 hours is not enough time for many people due to traffic and commuting issues). In the case of Universities and Colleges, the students and staff could have polling stations set up in the schools or, it could just become an extra school holiday where post-secondary students would have the day off so that they could actively participate in their country’s future.
Another idea could be to make every major election (municipal, provincial, federal) day a civic holiday. Maybe that would encourage people to come out and vote. During an election, the debates should be over 5 or 6 nights (3 or 4 in English and 2 in French where the parties would have to answer questions, debate and present a platform. It would really engage viewers by giving us a chance to hear each candidate’s vision of the future and their plans for the country. The topics could include economics, education, environment, health care, social programs and crime. The moderator(s) could be leading authorities in the various topics or a single person. If we are going to have debates, then questions need to be asked to and answered by all the parties. Never again should a candidate be allowed to call an election and not release his party’s platform until after the advanced polls are closed. It made this election a total joke and a waste of time and money to the sum over 300 hundred million dollars.
Dion should not lose his job over this phony campaign!
Next time: Go out and Vote!
So what did you think about this election? What was your impression of Dion? The Green Shift? Harper’s lack of transparency and avoiding real question from anyone? Are there any Europeans who would like to comment on how a carbon tax works in any of your countries?
Here are some more sites for info on what we still have a chance to achieve together. It is up to us to build the society that we want. Dion is on the right path. Let’s help ourselves and help him too!