Friday, September 18, 2009

The old boys and their games

Election averted. In the square dance of Canadian politics, party leaders spin round and round, then switch partners. The Liberals propped up the Harper government until now. Now, with the Liberals finally ready to ride into an election on Michael Ignatieff's newfound popularity, the NDP and Bloc have switched sides to save the Conservatives. Politically, it all makes sense. the NDP and the Bloc have much to lose from the resurgent Liberal support and are hardly election ready. The Liberals too, have much to gain from appearing to be taking the tough stance while biding more time to prepare a platform. It's all a game of convenience and poll numbers.

But when did the Liberals find the balls to call for a general election in the first place? In the popularity of their tough guy leader, Michael Ignatieff - a manufactured product of backroom politics. By the atmosphere on Parliament Hill these days, it's clear that Stephen Harper is just a little bit afraid of Mr. Ignatieff, a respect that his predecessor Stephane Dion lacked.

Trying to undo their problem before it began, the Conservative party launched a bevy of attack ads and a website aimed at undermining Mr. Ignatieff in the early spring. The mildly disgruntling aspect of these ads is that they were more truthful than the usual Conservative drivel. They took advantage of genuine weaknesses in Michael Ignatieff's international past.

To his credit, Ignatieff did not take this slander lying down. Eager to prove that he would not be a Dion-esque pushover, Ignatieff had these fighting words: "If you mess with me, I will mess with you until I'm done." His strong words won accolades from those who resented Dion's meek demeanour.

The Liberals then tabled a bill to stop the Conservatives from running attack ads off election season, a loophole that Conservatives have frequently used to evade election advertisement spending limits. However, as the threat of election came dangerously close this month, the Liberals launched their own set of election-style television ads.

A legitimate question to ask is, "Why have an election?" On the one hand, one year into a minority Conservative government, people are loathe to hit the polls again. My parents quite openly cursed Ignatieff's Liberals for proposing an unnecessary election. However, it's the opposition's prerogative to vote down the government on matters of confidence. The real fault lies with Harper's opportunistic election call last year as he attempted to capitalize on favourable polls to strengthen his mandate, despite recently having introduced legislation barring the government from doing just that (the legality of our last election is currently being investigated). That said, the Liberals are being equally opportunistic by trying to force an election as their poll numbers are up and the NDP and Bloc are being equally politically minded by dodging it.

The sad fact of the matter, however, is that none of the current contenders for government are particularly inspiring. The Conservatives are powermongers who lie, cheat, and destabilize our democracy. At the same time, they spend plenty of money buying votes and accomplishing little. The Liberals, on the other hand, have done little to distinguish themselves since Michael Ignatieff took the helm many months ago. Their resurgent popularity is based on little more than the fact that he is not Dion. The Liberals have worked hard to attack the Conservative government, but have yet to provide any kind of alternative vision for the country (although I am a big fan of Ignatieff's proposed high speed rail line from Quebec City to Windsor).

In the end, all we really have are the same old boys playing the same old politics, running circles around each other. They are a disconnected and visionless brood of leaders, leading an apathetic and unambitious country. And Ignatieff? He's just popular because some people think he's sexy.


shirls said...

Really? People think he's sexy?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Ignatieff, have you seen this ad that popped up on Youtube last week?

a_ndy said...

Is this some kind of secret Conservative trolling? I have seen this ad, and yes Ignatieff has proven to be changeable. I guess that's one thing he has in common with Mr. Harper, who has left all his larking about Albertan firewalls far behind. Have you seen this video that popped up on YouTube last December?

Like I said, none of the political leaders today are particularly inspiring.