Detail from Polevaulter


Will Harper be Rewarded for his Ruthless Campaign?

Oct. 10, 2008
N.J. Lukanovich

In the cutthroat world of politics, those with integrity are often drowned out by brutal tides sweeping aggressively over the shores of voters unable to think, choosing image over substance. While rumors abound that the electorate is put off by negative advertising, that it's worse than the smell of dirty socks, the unpleasant truth is that the majority of voters attach that smell of dirty socks to the intended target and the stink can linger throughout the campaign.

The Conservative Party has been running ads decimating Stephen Dion as a leader since he was nominated by the Liberal Party. The media has been their ever helpful sidekick, repeating endlessly that Dion doesn't appear to be a strong leader. Canadians seem to want leaders that can take a punch, or even better, just might throw a punch. Dion is thin, wears glasses, and has to his detriment, a PhD. His policies and vision for Canada have met a wall of derision crafted by bullies who have no shame and even less integrity.

Dion, the man that wrote the Clarity Act, and was integral in preventing Quebec from separating is not considered to be a leader. The man that brought nations together to sign the Kyoto Protocol, is accused of being weak and ineffectual. Chretien was reelected time and time again because he's the scrappy guy from Shawinigan. Trudeau was short in stature but capable of lacerating hecklers till they bled. Mulroney had a chin that wouldn't stop, and Joe Clarke was ridiculed for one that didn't start.

Unbelievably, the most dictatorial leader we have ever had, Harper, will most likely be re-elected. He has managed to terrify the populace into believing that cold, cruel and calm means he rules with a strong and steady hand. It might just mean he's apathetic in regards to policy, and can only whip up enthusiasm for keeping others out of power, and preferably silent. Like members of his cabinet.

But the election is around the corner and I must be dreaming; the Liberals are picking up momentum. On Tuesday, polls released by Nanos showed that Conservative support has dropped to 34 percent, the Liberals up to 31 percent, and the NDP at 18 percent. Nanos differs from other polling companies in that it asks an outright "who will you vote for" question, and also calls cell phone numbers, so is thereby far more inclusive of younger voters. Nanos polls were the most accurate prior to the last election.

I'm pumped and hopeful. Could it be? Can voters get over their fascination with image? Dion is extremely intelligent, sincere, and empathetic, and as Canadians watch the markets tumble, attributes like cold, cruel and calm are perhaps less and less appealing. Particularly when Harper foolishly states that not only is the economy stable, but it's a great time to buy stocks. Predictably, this sent opposition leaders into a frenzy of outrage, and rightly so.

Our divinely appointed Prime Minister is now in full fledged panic mode, his actions more revealing than his freakish ability to keep his voice at a level monotone. The Conservative Party has at long last revealed their platform, with a week to go before voting day. They were no doubt crafting the platform during the campaign, checking the pulse of the electorate to decide the contents of their package. Harper is promising senate reform (yet again), and dribbling bits of money here, there, and everywhere. The possibility of a majority has sunk along with the consensus that he is the only one that can manage the economy, and there is even a chance that he may lose the election altogether.

Harper claims he called the election now, contrary to his new fixed date election law, because government couldn't function with a minority. He has yet to reveal his master plan if the result is another minority government with him in power.

Wouldn't it be a gas if the conservatives were bitten in the bum after this frivolous spending of 200 million dollars of tax payers' money? Elections cost quite a bit more than the 45 million dollar cuts to Arts and Culture, which he claims are necessary due to difficult economic times. This statement also runs contrary to his claim that Canada's economy is sound.

This contradiction runs throughout his campaign: the Liberal plan is a disaster because the economy is too fragile for a carbon tax even though the economy is claimed to be sound. Harper and the few conservatives who haven't been muzzled by a Harper gag order, repeat ad nauseum that the Liberal plan will bring Canada's economy to it's knees, and that it's nothing short of insane considering the state of the economy, the same economy that they claim is sound. Over two hundred economists have stated that the Green Shift platform makes solid economic sense.

David Suzuki calls the plan the best plan for the environment. The Liberals have enough vision to see that the economy and protecting the environment are not at odds with each other. Carbon taxes have been used in European nations with great success, but they won't work in Canada because Harper says they won't, and he is the God of the Great White North. I'm reminded of Shakespeare's second witch in Macbeth: "Something wicked this way comes."

Harper inherited an economy from the Liberals that was the best in the G8, and in two years brought Canada to the bottom of the G8. The surplus has been squandered, while those that need help the most have been left out in the calm, cruel cold.

And while foreign policy has barely been raised during this campaign, it's crucial to remember that not only was Harper desperately eager to join the U.S. in Iraq, but scathing and derisive towards the Chretien and the Liberals. The chilling fact that his speech of support for the invasion was plagiarized, pales in comparison with the fact that Canada would have jumped down the rabbit hole right alongside Bush if Harper had been in power. Deciding whether or not to go to war is an issue of life and death.

The government we choose does have an impact on the daily lives of Canadians, and sets us on a path for the future. It's a pity that so many believe the grassroots spin that "it doesn't matter who you vote for, they're all the same." Apathy is not an option if you're awake and conscious.