With four recent resignations in the House of Commons, The Right Honourable Stephen Harper has scheduled a by-election to fill four empty seats with new asses. The last decade of federal elections has seen a voter turnout that has hovered around 60%, but the Prime Minister hopes to change all of that with his new approach to “patriotic voting.” Two ridings each in Ontario and Alberta will take to the polls on June 30, because in yet another beautiful display of exactly how in-touch he is with the common citizen, Harper thinks Canadians will flock to voting stations on the day between a weekend and Canada Day, a statutory holiday.
I don’t think it ever actually crossed anyone’s mind that perhaps the residents of the downtown Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina (the seat formerly held by Olivia Chow, now running for mayor of Toronto) might be planning for a 4-day weekend. I do know Harper has a teenage son who will begin attending Queen’s University in the fall—I’m still waiting for this month’s “Transfer to Queen’s” email to tell me all about why he’s going. So you might think that our dear PM might have gotten wind of an upcoming long weekend or even a day that his kids were planning a holiday. But it seems like no one noticed that this by-election had been scheduled for what will likely be the biggest sick day of the year.
As two ridings of the ridings in question are in Alberta, the Helm’s Deep stronghold of Canadian Conservatism, the major focus for these by-elections will be the Ontario seats. As such, it is perhaps appropriate to wonder why June 30th in particular was singled out. In essence, there are really only three reasons that these elections could have been scheduled so poorly.
- Harper is a political genius, and may have calculated the exact best way to maximize Conservative victories in the two Ontario ridings. Perhaps Liberal supporters will be bathing in the resplendent glory of the wonderboy; meanwhile, NDP and Green supporters will be too busy finalizing their “Canada Supports [cause]” campaigns for the following day. This will leave the Conservatives activists poised to vote and sweep the race.
- Harper ran out of ideas for his Canada Day address, and realized that he could make his speech ten minutes longer if he added election results, some repetition, and strategic pauses. I mean, it worked for me in grade 5.
- Harper forgot how holidays work, or how many days are in June. In his defence, he said he wanted to steer clear of the June 12th election for Ontario Premier, but that is a rather poor excuse.
In all sincerity, I am a proud Canadian. I love my country and the freedoms that I have here. And most of all, I love the national identity that every Canadian shares: a Tim Hortons large double-double. So I can’t wait for July 1, Canada Day, when I will turn on my television and see the CBC’s national broadcast of patriotic pride, then open my computer to read about the lowest voter turnout in Canadian history.
And in the end, this won’t be Harper’s fault. While one can blame his political manipulation, poor speech-writing skills, or his inability to count the days in June, but in the end, the blame lies with Canadians who would rather take an extra day off work than voice their right to vote.
Happy Canada Day.