I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the federal Election has been called – for October 19. According to one news source, that’s the longest federal election period in at least a century.
So why do we need so long, especially in this day and age of instant information everywhere all the time? Is Harper deluded enough to think that every single Canadian wants him to personally shake their hands? Well, maybe he is, but that’s likely not the reason.
The way I figure it, there are three main possible reasons for running this election on well past the attention span and interest quotient of just about every voter in the land.
The first is money. Harper likely figures that, by running on and on in this manner, he can starve out the opposition. Ever since there were new rules concerning how money can be raised, the Conservatives have had an edge in fundraising because they can raise more money in small amounts than the others. Instead of large donations from interested organizations, the funds must now be raised in two ways: through individual, tax-receipted donations and through a government- (read taxpayer-) funded per capita amount. Both are, to some degree, paid for by you and me. The first method is geared toward the party with the most members: The second method is slanted toward the party with most votes in the previous election. The bet here is that the opposition parties will run out of money first and that will leave Harper with the last paid-for word.
The second possible reason for the length is that he figures he has the most dedicated voters (whether he does is something else). Those voters who aren’t fanatical about the election might lose interest long before the almost three months is up and I think most people would agree that the Conservatives have more fanatics than anyone else.
The third is, naturally, that a longer election means more opportunity for someone (read Justin Trudeau) to slip up and make some silly remark that can immediately be pounced upon by the Conservatives’ reputation-demolition team.
So, hunker down. This election is slated to have more debates (ho-hum), more personal appearances (ho-ho-hum) and more cowboy-hat-, Native-bead-, fisherman’s-slicker-wearing photo ops (good night). We may find ourselves entertained by the much-expected additional gaffes, although even they will get boring after a time, and maybe if you’re involved in the elections you’ll have some fun and even possibly have some fun.
The only real thing I wonder is why Harper did this in the middle of a Long weekend in the middle of the summer when many aren’t home and could care less about Ottawa? Your guess is as good as mine.
For most Canadians, however, the lights will go off long before Election Day and I doubt anyone will learn any more about the parties in the longer time space since we can all learn that in less than a day at the computer.
Somehow I doubt that it will engage Canadians in the most important process and fundamental right that citizenship affords them. And all’s the greater is the pity for democracy in Canada.