You have to love the structure of the Canadian political system when it comes to elections. We lucky citizens learned last week that we would be heading to the polls for the third time in a mere five years for yet another federal election.
It’s been dubbed the ‘unnecessary election’, ‘the election nobody wants,’ ‘the unwelcome election’ and political parties were quick to point accusing fingers at each other as to who was responsible for bringing it about.
And the campaign this time around is expected to be uglier than usual. Politicians have been complaining that it’s virtually impossible to get anything done in government these days, and that frustration has been surfacing increasingly in the House of Commons and on the airwaves.
In light of what many countries are going through these days, it also seems that much more of an ‘unwelcome’ event. The rumblings of recession aren’t that far behind many countries in the world and several nations remain mired in economic woes as well.
Canadians are emerging from the recession turbulence, and are focused on paying the bills at home, staying gainfully employed and making dollars count. Little wonder few have the desire to deal with political leaders squabbling.
The other problem all parties also seem to be facing as they prepare for the showdown is voter apathy. Canadians generally don’t show much enthusiasm for voting, be it at the municipal, provincial or federal levels.
Folks also don’t seem overly interested in what’s going on in Ottawa these days. Issues that the parties hammer away on don’t resonate with the average person – you just don’t hear conversations about the leaders themselves, their platforms or personalities.
Also, the very issue that brought down the government, a non-confidence motion regarding the Tories being found in contempt of Parliament for failing to provide details on the cost of fighter jets, a series of crime bills and projections of corporate profits and tax rates, didn’t seem to trigger public response of much substance either.
But there may ultimately be a silver lining in all this. CBC commentator Rex Murphy recently explained that if things don’t change significantly on Canada’s political landscape after the May vote, there could very well be a sweeping turnover of leadership. No party would be immune to this.
If the numbers don’t budge, parties will be forced to closely look at their leaders and ask questions about their influence and potential for the future.
That, in itself, and if it does happen, may not be such a bad thing and generate some heat in what is a decidedly lukewarm political climate.