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Election Roundup for 12 september 2008 September 12, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Canada.
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Let’s take a look at recent developments in the Canadian federal election and how the New York Times characterizes the major parties’ leaders! Plus, a link to a seat predictor program.

This article focuses on the newfound prominence and effects of women in this Canadian federal election. New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton and Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have withdrawn their opposition to Green Party leader Elizabeth May joining in the televised party leaders’ debates; noted Green Party supporter Stephane Dion had long supported May’s presence at the debate, despite what author Jeffrey Simpson points out as the Greens’ likely result, siphoning votes and possibly seats from the Liberals. Dion, the leader of the Liberal Party, had vowed that 1/3 of the Grits’ candidates would be women, and he managed to run 106 women (about 3 more than the minimum he had promised). Prime Minister Harper, meanwhile, has adopted the mantle of “family-friendly candidate,” for no apparent reason; he sees this as a way of tapping into the vast number of female voters.

Thus far, however, Harper’s main campaign pledge has been to cut the federal excise taxes on diesel and aviation fuel. (Cite: This roundup article by several authors.) Even as Harper positioned himself as the family-friendly candidate, Dion has pledged to double the Conservatives’ $1200-per-year child care allowance and restore the Court Challenges Program, a funding program for lawsuits advancing language and equality rights. Dion, who claims anti-intellectualism on the Tories’ part, has summed his message up as “cut income taxes, shift to pollution”. Dipper Jack Layton joined the green bandwagon, attacking Big Oil.

Layton has also decried ad hominem politics in this election, suggesting that respect has left politics. The Globe and Mail, in a Friday editorial, agreed. The Conservative Party has blamed individuals for the two missteps thus far (Puffingate and the attack of a man whose son was lost fighting in Afghanistan), but the Globe and Mail argues that those gaffes were indicative of the party’s attitude generally. In order to win their majority, the editorial says, the Tories will need to raise the tone of the campaign.

And raise the tone they will – Harper, as discussed here, is attempting to make himself appear warmer. The linked editorial characterizes this focus as charming, especially in opposition to the concurrent United States Presidential election.:

In the U.S., voters have to worry about how to extricate themselves from the quagmire of Iraq, and who can bail them out of the worst credit crisis in 70 years, and how their nation can repair its shattered moral leadership in the world. Up here, we can debate for days over whether Ms. May ought to be allowed to play with the big guys. The stakes could not be smaller. How wonderful.

The New York Times crystallizes the election similarly:

Mr. Harper is not charismatic and often appears irritated, particularly when he is challenged. But his personal approval ratings in pre-election polls are significantly higher than those of Stéphane Dion, the Liberal leader. Mr. Harper was named potentially “the best prime minister” by 50 percent, compared with 20 percent for Mr. Dion.

Mr. Dion, a former academic, is entering his first election as party leader. He speaks English awkwardly, and even in French, his first language, Mr. Dion at a podium can sound as if he were still lecturing dryly on public administration and political science at the Université de Montréal.

The other players in the Canadian election, of course, might consider the stakes quite large indeed. Particularly, the Bloc Quebecois is making an attempt to position itself as a much larger factor in the next government, and with that focus, they invite attacks from both sides of the fence. Former Parti Quebecois minister Jacques Brassard has accused the Bloc of being a clone of the NDP and pushing the sovereigntist portion of their party platform onto the back burner. Meanwhile, sociology professor Pierre Drouilly poo-poos the idea that the Bloc is a dying party – “The Bloc remains strong in and around Montreal. And if the Liberal support collapses, they may even win seats there,” he says, going on to predict that the BQ will win most of the 75 parliamentary seats in Quebec.

Are you interested in running your own numbers? Check out this projector. As for me? Predictions sound like analysis to me. I’ll just wait and see.

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