Jeff Green | Nov 17, 2005
Feature Article - November 17, 2005
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Feature ArticleNovember 17, 2005
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Coming soon, the lowest turnout in a Federal Election in Canadian history
Editorial by Jeff Green
If the federal parties persist in manoeuvring themselves, and the rest of us, into an election in early January, many things will happen, and none of them will be particularly good for what we naively call Canadian Democracy.
Let’s take our riding as an example, and look at the small role this newspaper has traditionally played in elections. Normally we organize 2 or 3 All-Candidates’ meetings relatively early in the election campaign, and run coverage of what the candidates say at those meetings in the paper. We also run profiles of the candidates at the tail end of the campaign.
Given the rural nature of the riding, the opportunities we provide to see and read about the candidates might be the only exposure many readers get to the local campaigns, save what is written in other local papers.
In the case of a campaign in December and early January, it will be difficult to organize All-Candidates’ meetings because of the sheer number of popular seasonal events that are already scheduled.
At this time of year, we receive notices every day about concerts, plays, craft sales, tree lightings, all scheduled between November 30 and December 17. There are at least 6 Christmas parades in our readership area set for the last week of November and the first week of December. We don’t want to schedule an All-Candidates’ meeting to compete with any one of these events, which are way too important to the local communities.
We are also not going to schedule an All-Candidates’ meeting between the 18th and the 1st of January.
Our own scheduling problems are not particularly important, but they illustrate what will probably happen throughout the country. No one, except for members of the political parties, is going to pay any attention to this campaign until January 3, at the earliest. It will end up being a one-week election campaign, and it won’t even be a very compelling week. The same leaders will be contesting this campaign as contested the one last June. The same issues will be discussed.
When necessary, it is acceptable to hold an election campaign at any time of the year. It is not necessary in this case, and the parties know it. That’s why they are each going to great lengths to blame the other parties for an election call over Christmas.
In the end, sheer boredom with the level of debate at the federal level, combined with the ludicrous timing of this election, will likely lead to the lowest turnout on record, well under the 60% turnout of the previous election.
Who will win and who will lose? The big loser will probably be Jack Layton’s NDP. They are, after all, the party that set this process in motion a couple of weeks ago. Layton has parlayed 18 seats in a 310-member house into a position of power through cleverness and audacity, but he has pushed too far and the electorate will end up blaming him for this fruitless election.
He will likely pay for it on election day. -JG
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