Canadians are buzzing about the latest election news. Ok, we’re actually droning, but that’s as good as it gets these days. Stephen Harper met with his henchman–aka the Governor General–and drew up the writs for the upcoming federal election. Canadians are now in for the longest and probably the most expensive federal election campaign in Canadian history. It’s great news for some people, but less great news for the rest of us.
This record-breaking campaign comes on the tail end of a record-breaking decade of governance. Canadians have witnessed the biggest budget deficit in Canadian history and the lowest rate of GDP growth since the Great Depression. Depending on how things go in October, we might elect the first Prime Minister with facial hair in about 100 years. Accordingly, we can count Canada’s hairiest politicians among those who stand to benefit from this election. Unfortunately for the masses, they are few and far between.
Not surprisingly, the majority of the benefactors sit on the government benches. Since the Tories rewrote Canadian election law, political parties are now able to spend more than ever during campaigns longer than the minimum 37 days. The Tories have far more money than all of the other major political parties, so they stand to benefit most from this change. Funny how that works (or sad, sinister, disturbing… Your choice). Much of what parties spend comes from fundraising, but a significant chunk comes from reimbursements funded by taxpayers. Yes, it’s true: for the next few months, these folks will spend our money on their misinformation and attack advertising. Some will also spend our money on traffic tickets, cupcakes, and steak dinners, but at least one of those people will lose a nomination contest next time around, so at least 1/338th of justice will be served.
It follows that the majority of losers are regular people like you and I. In the spirit of a cellphone contract, we ask for the ability to vote, but in order to do that we have to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of other useless crap that none of us wants. For example, now that the campaign has begun and this session of Parliament has ended, we have to start paying Harper’s Senate appointees Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau, and Pamela Wallin again. A longer campaign means we pay them more money. It’s a bad deal, but we have to take it in order to claim any control over our democracy.
The good news is that the campaign itinerary is full of surprises. Nigel Wright is set to take the stand at Mike Duffy’s trial. We will learn how deep and for how long Canada has been in recession. We will see if Finance Minister Joe Oliver lies about us being in recession or about us posting a forecasted budget deficit… or both! Hopefully, after all that, we will be able to hold our heads high.