Autumn in Canada is special because kaleidoscopes of colour explode onto the green canopy of summer’s vegetation. Thanks to Stephen Harper, fall’s foliage blossomed a little earlier than usually as the streets are now painted with a palette of electoral colours. What the prime minister actually gave the Canadian population is an election few want as a recent poll suggests more than eighty percent of the electorate is indifferent to the campaign. This election call the third in five years flies in the face of the Tories’ promise to legislate the timing of elections in order to level the playing field and hold governments accountable and will cost taxpayers a few hundred million dollars. This money could be better spent as ominous recessionary winds blow north from our biggest trading partner down south.
This election does not seem to be issue driven. Maybe issues have become blurred for most voters as the major parties have moved closer to the political center, becoming advocates of fiscal responsibility all the while championing social welfare causes. Ask Canadians as a recent poll did and you will discover that 89% of voters no longer believe electoral promises anyway. Since the general consensus is not to believe what politicians are promising this election then by default becomes a contest of personalities. Television ads portraying a softer more caring Stephen Harper hit the airwaves even before the campaign official began. The conservative tactic to portray a bumbling stumbling Stephen Dion lacking leadership capabilities seems to be resonating with voters as federal polls now have Layton and Dion head to head in the race for second.
On street level a more visible campaign is playing out as the colourful war of the posters. The campaign slogan of the Bloc Quebecois blue posters declares their members present, ready to represent our interests in Ottawa. That is a little hard to swallow seeing that the Bloc is a regional separatist party. They have no hope of forming a government in a federal system that they wish to tear down. The party’s raison d’être is surely being challenged as another conservative wave of blue threatens to overrun traditional Bloc strongholds.
The New Democrats are trying to sell themselves as the power of change with former Quebec liberal environment minister Thomas Mulcair taking point as Quebec lieutenant. One has to wonder how new the ‘new’ in their campaign slogan really is. The only seat that they have won in Quebec came in a by election and may have been more a protest vote than the laying of any significant foundation. Nationally it will be interesting to see if they have any juice to power the promised change and splash a little orange on the Canadian political landscape.
The conservatives’ poster slogans claim that Harper’s government is empowering Quebec. A federal declaration proclaiming Quebec’s nationhood established little in the minds of Quebecers. However with substance and platforms seemingly non issues in this election the advantage may still go to Stephen Harper who orchestrated this election. Like him or hate him pollsters have clearly established that Canadians believe Stephen Harper is the most capable to lead the country, in stark contrast to the stumbling Dion. However suspicions of a hidden agenda hound the Prime Minister and may still prove to be his undoing.
Liberal red which should traditionally flourish this time of season though present on the streets is strangely silent. Liberal Party posters say nothing; no slogans or resonating catch phrases. Liberal organizers have either been caught asleep at the pre election helm or do not know how to package their leader Stephen Dion. The lack of message suggests an exhausted election machine. Liberal pundits better get their act together in a hurry, especially here in Quebec, or they will be swept by a surging wind of change threatening to colour the political landscape of Quebec an icy blue.