Will this Election Bring Real Change?


Another federal election has been finally been called. This will be Canada’s fourth in seven years.

We all suspected this was coming. There could be no other reason that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada would start preemptively running attack ads against Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party this past January.

I always find it interesting to watch how these things unfold. As soon as an election is called, the construction of campaign narratives begins. Stephen Harper is blaming the opposition for the election, stating that Canadians do not want it and cannot afford it. Elections are very expensive, I’ll give him that, but I see things differently.

Harper’s Government was found in contempt of Parliament, the first time this has occurred in Canadian Parliamentary history. A series of scandals have come to light around the Conservative Party in the previous months, including Minister Bev Oda falsifying government documents, and the Harper Government’s purchase of fighter jets without informing Parliament and the citizens of Canada of their actual cost.

Despite the dubious honour of being the leader of the first government in Canadian history to fall on contempt of Parliament, Prime Minister Harper is skilled at the political game and has an uncanny ability to spin his message. Whether or not he can use these skills to downplay the impact of these scandals throughout the campaign remains to be seen.

Undoubtedly, we will hear attacks about Michael Ignatieff’s willingness to form a coalition government (an action, I might add, that is constitutionally valid and something Stephen Harper tried to do himself in 2004).¬†We will hear endless questions about Jack Layton’s health (which I hope he will keep deflecting by jokingly offering to take off his clothes on camera). We will see Stephen Harper concentrating on the economy, ignoring the problems that the opposition have raised (if he takes questions from the media at all). We will see Gilles Duceppe continuing to fight for the benefit of Quebec, unconcerned with what the rest of the country thinks. We will see a valiant effort by Green Party leader Elizabeth May to take the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands away from Conservative Cabinet Minister Gary Lunn and give the Green Party their first seat in the Canadian Parliament.

Undoubtedly as well, Canadians will be subject to an endless barrage of attack ads which they won’t be able to turn away from as the commercials will air during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

While this election seems to make more sense than the 2008 election, at this point I’m doubtful of whether it will change much in the composition of the House of Commons. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Image courtesy of Itzafineday via Flickr.

About the author

Pippa Adams has a Political Science degree from the University of Victoria. She is currently studying Communications at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC. Pippa's blog about books, politics, pop culture & life in Vancouver can be found at www.coincidentalreality.com

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