So yeah, we Canadians just collectively spent $300,000,000 on an election we didn't want that in the end changed pretty much nothing. As a commenter to CBC's Ormiston Online said, it was like a bad Seinfeld episode.
Although I'm delighted by our own local victory, I'm disappointed by the election as a whole.
First, there's the issue of the voter turnout. It's the lowest in Canadian history, and even lower than the mostly apathetic US. CBC estimates a 59.1% voter turnout. That means in a room with 10 Canadians of voting age, 4 of them didn't bother voting. In more real numbers, that's 9.6 million registered voters that didn't bother showing up to the polls yesterday. I understand the frustration of the unexpected election call, but think of what real change could have been made if those 9.6 million people had cast their vote.
Second were the parties. They all fumbled this election, plain and simple. The internal divisions within the Liberal party have poisoned it and made it completely ineffective. Although I have no doubts that Stéphane Dion is an intelligent, well-spoken person, he's no political strategist. He ran this election on the principle that his policy would win out at the end of the day, and came off poorly in his responses to the Torys' attacks on the Green Shift plan. He couldn't connect or communicate with the Canadian population at all - I have heard more than one person talk about how they couldn't possibly vote for Dion because he was the tax bogeyman. The Tories had no election platform - they ran on their previous record. Ultimately, it appeared to let them keep most of their seats and gain a couple extra, but it was a weird, paradoxical attitude. They called the election because they felt Parliament wasn't working, but once they hit the campaign trail they took the attitude that everything was fine, so there was nothing to change. It really left one to wonder why an election was called in the first place. The NDP, although they have my heart and vote don't get off easy either. Jack Layton, bless his heart, was too much the bulldog and not enough the social democrat. I think the many ad hominems against Harper and his blue sweater in the debates really took him down. He also has to fight the prevailing western Canadian attitude of the NDP as a "bunch of commies" (an actual quote from a conversation K had with some people in BC). Nobody really had anything to say in this election, because nobody really wanted it at the end of the day.
Finally, is Stephen Harper himself. It was absolutely reckless of him to call an election on the eve of a recession, when the government and anybody with eyes and an Internet connection can see that we are entering into a difficult financial time. Think of what the $300,000,000 we just wasted on a useless election could have done. Think of how it could have shored up EI benefits, which are sure to take a hit as manufacturing and industry jobs dwindle. Think of how far $300,000,000 could have gone towards training doctors and nurses in Canada. Think of how $300,000,000 could have been used to provide a budget surplus to act as a float against recession. Or provide help to the homeless. Or provide more federal academic grants.
Despite all his talks about being fiscally conservative and bringing ethic back to Canadian politics, of being an economist and how we're doing okay, at the end of the day, he broke his own election law and wasted taxpayer money. Stephen Harper wasted our money because he thought he was doing well enough in the polls to get a majority government.
He wasted our money on vanity.
Postscript: The only person I can't find myself to lay criticism on is the Green Party's Elizabeth May. She held herself exceptionally well this election, and in my opinion is the only real victor. Although I personally still wouldn't vote for the Greens because their social policies are a too right-leaning, May did an exceptional job outlining the Green platform and displaying that the party had positions on more than just the environment. Ultimately, if the Greens (or hey, just Elizabeth May) could be persuaded to join with the NDP, I think she could do some real damage against the Conservatives.