Many of the bloggers I read regularly have positions they want to espouse. (This is why I read a mix of bloggers!) There are a few out there who are either quite partisan but also level-headed and capable of printing conclusions they draw that don’t agree with their expressed partisanship — and a few whose partisanship doesn’t run too deep, and so can be said to have “changed over time”. These non-echo-chamber reads are the ones I enjoy the most, as, of course, I also enjoy thoughtful writing.
I hope that I, in turn, provide some thought as well, rather than party talking points!
Having two teen-age children (one 18, one 14), the subject of the pending election has come up around the table. My 18-year-old is resolutely in the “ignore the whole process” camp that so many other new voters share. As far as she is concerned, there is nothing on offer worth making the effort of going to a polling station for, not even to “throw the bums out” (her view is that we are dealing with slight differences of degree, not the massive differences partisans detect, much less differences of kind).
The 14-year-old is more interesting. He doesn’t believe much will change after this election. Throughout his school years, whenever there’s been a vote, his classes have always gone into “election mode”, and he has always been (again, as so many of his peers are) an avid Green supporter. Yet he’s said more than once now that “Stephen Harper hasn’t done a bad job” and “he deserves to be returned” — and that if he could vote, he’d vote Conservative to reward the Harper Government.
(He also thinks that our MP, the recently-elected [by-election of March 2008] Joyce Murray, Liberal of Vancouver-Quadra, is a disgrace for her so-called “Questions” during Question Period and her repeated abstentions on votes, and needs to be tossed from office, another reason, in his eyes, for voting Conservative [since the Conservatives failed to take the riding in the spring by 151 votes].)
So what does all this mean? I have, previously, written articles here pointing out the apathy toward voting that I have detected, and noted that despite the media coverage out of Ottawa the sound and fury in the House wasn’t speaking to voters in this part of the world. My children echo that: even my apathetic, intending-not-to-vote daughter doesn’t think the Harper Government has been “bad for Canada”, “corrupt” or any of the other bits and pieces of mud and tar flung at them last year and this. My son thinks the Government has been bullied. Out of the mouths of babes…
Does that mean my son thinks the Conservatives have been “green enough”? No, not at all. But that’s not his issue. Rather, in his case, it is that “good work deserves another term”, coupled with a desire to see the bullies punished. This, by the way, corresponds to a number of adult conversations I have had recently. There is a sense out here on the West Coast that Ottawa has gone too far.
What will it all mean come voting day? I think the regional splits we have come to see since the end of the Mulroney years are going to be even more accentuated this time around. I find it highly likely that “outer Ontario”: the 519, 705, most of the 613, and the 807 area codes, will elect a number of Conservatives — and a few NDP. “Inner Ontario”: the 416 and Ottawa (613) itself, will be mostly Liberal. The election will turn on the 905, seat-rich and likely to split (closer to Toronto itself, more likely to be Liberal; farther away, more likely to go Conservative). Atlantic Canada will probably split, with a slight Liberal bias; Québec could well see many more Conservatives to go with the 418 (Québec City) redoubt, while the 450 around Montréal becomes the battle ground between the Conservatives, the BQ and the Liberals. The Prairies will be a Conservative:NDP saw-off (aside from Alberta, still likely to return an all-blue slate). The North is likely to remain Liberal — or, rather, the Liberal candidates will have superior recognition in their far-flung ridings.
Then there’s BC, which, as with Ontario, is highly regional in nature. Two or three Liberal seats in the Lower Mainland, perhaps one on Vancouver Island (Dr. Keith Martin in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca is one Liberal MP worthy of re-election). Vancouver Centre will, this time, go NDP; Vancouver-Quadra (I believe) will go Conservative. Vancouver-South and Vancouver-Kingsway will remain Liberal. It is in the next ring: the Burnaby, New Westminster and Richmond seats that the battle will more likely see the Liberals there be displaced, with both the Conservatives and the NDP running strong locally.
What this adds up to is an early set of results that will look favourable to the Liberals, then the steady addition of Conservative seats to the end of the count. Enough for a majority? Possibly: it will turn on the swing in Ontario and Québec more so than in the West. A stronger NDP contingent? This is likely. A Green MP? Not after the ethically-challenged Mr. Blair Wilson goes down in history for his short tenure as an unelected and unseated Green MP, and certainly not in Central Nova. I do believe this election will see fewer BQ returned.
What this adds up to, in the end of the day, is a question: do we get a Conservative majority (in which case the Liberals are probably still the Official Opposition), or do we get a Conservative minority (in which case the NDP might edge past the Liberals to become the Official Opposition)? I make no bones about it: it is this second outcome that would be more pleasing to me. But I do not expect it.
One of the lessons I have tried to give my children, in talking to them about politics, is to try and vote positively. It is not, I tell them, necessary for your candidate or party of choice to win: you make a statement about what you want for this country by choosing the person or party closest overall to where you stand on the issues that matter to you. This, of course, implies that tactical voting of any type is to be eschewed, and I do tell them that: “I won’t”, I say, “vote for a party simply to block someone else”.
My one hope with this election comes after it: win, lose or draw, could we have a little common sense and statesmanship in the House? The attempts to grab headlines with insults, the thin gruel of partisanship über alles, invented or developed “scandal”, etc. merely intensify the conviction of those who do not play a part in our electoral results — the non-voters — that they are correct. So, class of 2008, grow up and act as adults should, eh?