In “Joyce Murray and Her Weird Nomination Return”, Steve Janke of Angry in the Great White North puts forward some information about two of the candidates facing off against each other in the by-election in my riding of Vancouver-Quadra next Monday. One would hope that this sort of information — Liberal Murray’s hands don’t seem especially clean financially from reading about how she reported her funds to secure the nomination — might be taken into account on polling day. Unfortunately, I don’t believe it will.
Here’s why. Aside from the fact that this is appearing in the blogosphere as opposed to in tomorrow morning’s Vancouver Sun (to reach this community, the story must appear in the Sun, the Province, either 24 Hours or Metro, or possibly in the Courier, or be on Global’s 6.00 pm news programme), “Questionable Liberal Finances” is — thanks to the Sponsorship matter — about as exciting a news story as “Dog Bites Man”. It’s just expected now that there’s some shenanigan or other buried there. Blair Wilson, the sitting MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, might have been asked to leave the Liberal caucus and now sits as an Independent in the Commons, but the story of his many loans taken out and not repaid (and not reported) was an afternoon’s wonder, evoking little in the way of calls on the radio and dying as a story overnight.
It’s sad but true, but Justice Gomery’s (in my view, petulant) critique of the Harper Government’s failure to implement each and every one of his recommendations from his public inquiry having made the news has just reminded anyone paying attention of that sorry chapter in Canadian public life on the part of the Liberal Party when it was in government earlier this decade — and thus, a shake of the head and a fleeting thought of “oh, well, you know how they are” goes by without changing anything.
This is still Murray’s riding to lose, alas, judging by the density of local signs (and Vancouver does not allow candidates to place signs on public land, so every sign is on the property of a resident). Stephen Owen, after all, the previous MP, was not only quite popular on a personal basis, but between that and his Liberal affiliation — the riding went “Red” in 1984 even as Brian Mulroney gained the largest majority in Canadian history — and was never threatened by a close result again. I might personally hope for a change, but all the factors on the ground — including the lack of any discussion of the by-election in the community — suggest an uninvolved electorate who won’t be moved to vote rather than one chafing at the bit to elect a candidate.
It’s sad, really, how disaffected the whole process has become — there’s little to no media coverage, open phone programmes receive no calls about the by-election — and judging (as I’ve earlier noted here) by the lack of ground contact (my literature drops are one for the Greens and one for the NDP, with none for either the Conservatives or Liberals, and no one has actually deigned to knock on the door when I’ve been home [just about every night, actually]) the campaigns are having difficulty finding resources. Having given money to the Conservatives, I do get the mailings — including one from Ottawa from the “central office” — imploring me amongst others to “get out and knock on doors for the candidate” (Deborah Meredith). Yet the campaign office for the Conservatives (on West 4th Avenue) is often closed when I go by it. The campaign office for the Liberals is in the same block as a grocery store we frequent; while it’s open, it’s hardly bustling.
This, remember, is for a campaign where the closest next riding in play is two provinces away: all the candidates ought to have the pick of active party members “on the make” for future elections coming to help out. If they are, I’m not seeing any of it happening.
Another factor, I suspect, is sheer fatigue. We’ve had so many election near-misses that I think everyone is just plain worn out. Stéphane Dion, for instance, was in town today (for something or other; the radio host who interviewed him for a few minutes never said why — I presume he was probably doing something for the Murray campaign in the riding) and as he stumbled over trying to answer a simple question about whether he favoured a carbon tax or not (“carbon is very important in this most critical crisis, but the experts are divided…”) he never used the five minutes of air time he was given to even mention that there was an opportunity to elect the former BC Environment Minister in Vancouver-Quadra and send her to Ottawa and his caucus. He, too, sounded tired. The picture of the Prime Minister with the Premier by Coal Harbour taken a day or so ago also showed a tired man.
If they’re worn out, and we’re worn out, then no one truly will care.
That’s unfortunate, for it is at times like this that slipping one in, pulling a scam or neat trick, etc., easily happen. One can hope that nothing of the sort will happen. Janke, after all, in his posting made no accusation — and I recall that Murray is a parachute candidate (she’s represented a New Westminster riding provincially and lost in the 2006 Federal election there) leaning heavily on her younger years here. I do not recall if she was also designated as the candidate, the recipient of the Liberal Leader’s finger of fate (in the same manner as Saskatchewan’s Joan Beatty being placed without further discussion as the candidate in the by-election in that province). But, if she was, then her apparent lack of nomination expenses is quite explicable.
Less explicable, of course, are the names of those invoicing for the minimal expenses noted. Hmmm … Joyce Murray, expensing the candidacy of … Joyce Murray. Ah, well, no doubt there’s a perfectly good explanation.
Monday will come, and with it the outcome of this by-election battle. In profile this riding is quite similar actually to Toronto Centre (a riding — when it was called Toronto-Rosedale — that I actually lived in and voted in for the 1984 and 1988 elections). Vancouver-Quadra doesn’t have the “poor part of town”, of course — that’s elsewhere in the city — but otherwise it is your classic big urban riding, tending Liberal with a touch of NDP. We do have strong Conservative bastions in the riding — but haven’t had enough for years. Of course, by sign count, the Green candidate (who, I might mention, was actively opposed in seeking the candidacy by Elizabeth May personally) has made serious inroads. Not enough to win, just as the NDPer won’t either. The fight is still Deborah Meredith, Conservative, against Joyce Murray, Liberal, for the most part.
Out of force of habit, and willful ignorance, I expect Murray to take the laurels on Monday. It’s not what I hope for, but it is what I expect. And so, if she has engaged in chicanery, I expect her to get away with it and head off to Ottawa.
May she be as effective there as she was in Victoria. Which is to say, not at all.