Canadians have been given front row seats to one of the longest elections in our history. With 76 days left we can only pray that at some point in time it becomes interesting.
There certainly wasn’t much excitement in the first few days of the campaign to grab our attention. Do voters care that Mulcair didn’t take questions on Day One? Do voters even know the names of enough Quebec NDP MPs to judge as Harper declared, they are the “most ineffective group of any group of MPs in history” or that “There’s not a single star among Mulcair’s caucus in Quebec.” (CP 4 July 2015).
Speaking of nastiness, didn’t Justin Trudeau promise to run a different type of campaign? One based on being positive and different.
“I’m going to respond in a tone and in a way that is very different because fundamentally, what negative attacks are most focused on is getting people to turn away from options.” (Global News, 7 April 2013)
“Yes there are a lot of fault lines we can play up to divide this country but for me it’s much more interesting to look for those common values that define Canadian identity (The Star, 27 March 2013)
“We might not agree all the time on everything. We might disagree about a great many things, but I know we can agree on this: Negativity cannot be this country’s lifeblood.” (Justin Trudeau speech 22 February 2014)
“[They are] hopeful that positive politics has a fighting chance against the steady barrage of negativity that you and I both know is coming soon to TV screens across Canada.” (Global News, 15 April 2013)
Yet there he was being just like all the other politicians with his comment that “With friends like Stephen Harper, the Alberta economy doesn’t need enemies,” Trudeau said. “He let you down. He let us all down.” (CBC News, 4 August 2015).
It is nice to know that he isn’t any different from the other politicians out there. I suspect that Canadians are so used to this type of nastiness in our politics that they will just shrug and go on enjoying the summer weather.
The only people excited about this election so far are partisans, pundits, pollsters and professional media types. They dutifully post all sorts of messages on Twitter or publish articles that try to make it sound like every little item that happened that day is important.
It’s far too early for most Canadians to make up their minds about which leader they want to run the country. We have plenty of time to watch the plethora of political attack ads each night on our TV screens or as I suspect use those ads as a reason to slip away from the TV to get a snack in the kitchen.
For now the various campaigns will make few mistakes. The leaders and their teams are fresh, their talk points sharply honed, but give it a bit of time. Wait until around week four or five when the leaders are worn out from travelling and war room staff are living on caffeine and getting far too few hours of rest. Then things will get interesting.
As for all the polls that keep coming out day after day, many heralding just minor movements of support, I am reminded of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s words: “I would never have been Prime Minister if the Gallup poll were right.” (February 25, 1970, Toronto Star).