We’re having an election up here in Canada right now. K5 has a decent write-up; herewith some more, trying to give a flavor for the thing.
I won’t apologize for describing a few things and people by contrasting them to American things and people; a lot of my readers are American, and anyhow U.S. politics is a spectator sport world-wide.
Photos · The kid and I went to a local community festival on the weekend, which draws politicians like honey does flies. The gentleman in white below is Ian Waddell, the local NDP candidate, and Mr. Johl is the Conservative.
The Emotions · They say the Liberals are the Natural Governing Party of Canada, and there’s evidence to support this. They flop amorphously across the broad middle of the Canadian spectrum (which is placed, in U.S. terms, at the left margins of the Democratic party), they use patronage cynically but very effectively, and they can usually muster up a reasonably competent set of ministers. They’ve been keeping the budget balanced and the economy moving along in recent years, which is good.
But at the moment, the population is severely irritated by a series of scandals that blew up over the last couple of years and is definitely in a mood to spank the nearest Liberal. Maybe not hard enough to throw them entirely out of power, but probably with enough sting to produce a minority government.
I’ve never voted for a Liberal in my life, due to a recurring naive belief that politicians ought to stand for something, but I have to say, looking around, that I see plenty of countries that are worse governed than we are.
The Conservatives, who in U.S. terms would like to be seen approximately as Kerry Democrats, are the most likely beneficiary of the upcoming Liberal spanking. On the other hand, a lot of Canadians have been severely horrified by some recent American political trends and have this fear that our Tories will do a George W. Bush, as in run from the centre and then govern from the hard-right. There is just no majority support here for privatized healthcare or abortion-rights limitations or gun uncontrol or invading Iraq. Still, it wouldn’t be that surprising to have a Conservative government.
Then there’s the NDP, our Social Democrats, which would be an unremarkable mild-left party in any country in Europe, i.e. more or less Commies by U.S. standards.
They’ve never formed a national government and they won’t this time either, but they’ve got a charismatic new leader and a pretty good line-up of candidates, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them do well.
Pluses and Minuses · The electoral districts here are drawn in a nonpartisan way, which means that you get lots of interesting, close races (good). On the other hand, it’s a pure first-past-the post unicameral (in effect) Parliamentary setup, which means that a party with a majority gets to run an elected dictatorship, none of that checks-and-balances stuff (bad). We have more than two but (most years) less than five significant political parties (good). Way more than half the voters live in the Montreal-Toronto corridor, so most elections get decided by a tiny chunk of the country’s geography (bad). The whole election, start to finish, is over in less than three months (very good).
I’ve never missed a chance to vote. In our local riding, the NDP is probably running the best candidate, and the Liberals really deserve that spanking, but on the other hand I, like a lot of people, worry about the Tories pulling a W on us. My real feelings about all this are here.