Sunday, April 24, 2011 | Categories: Episodes
On Cross Country Checkup: election conundrum
The party leaders say this campaign is being fought to decide whose vision of Canada should prevail.
Polls suggest changes are underway, but what if after the vote, nothing is decided ...and that the outcome in Parliament is pretty much the same?
With host Rex Murphy.
No matter the outcome, the result of this election will be a sea change, at the leadership level at least. If Mr. Harper fails to win his majority after so many tries, the knives will be out. If Mr. Ignatieff underperforms, there are eager replacements waiting. M Duceppe is not likely to run again, especially if the party's star is fading. Ms. May has already disappeared from the scene.
My point is: six to twelve months from now, I'd be surprised if the majority of the leaders haven't been replaced. For that reason alone, I welcome the election and the younger cohort that I hope will result. It's odd that the one leader with the most serious health issues has turned into the Energizer Bunny of Canadian politics. Perhaps Mr. Layton will outlast them all.
E R Brown
Vancouver, British Columbia
Mr. Harper is saying that this election is a waste of our money. My question is this: In 2006, he did pass legislation for a fixed election date. He has called two elections since then. He got minority governments. This election is the only one he did not call -- the Conservatives were found in contempt of Parliament -- and he calls it a waste of money. To my mind, the first two elections that he called were the waste of taxpayers' money.
I think that he is in need of a majority government because the Conservatives will replace him with someone who could get them a majority government.
First, I want to say that I am still in shock after the English language debate that the media commentators stated that Harper seemed the most prime-ministerial, instead of supporting the other leaders who had tried to call Harper on the many pieces of misinformation and lies . To win a debate you must first play by the rules and lying is not one of them. It is the job of the media to inform the public what is true. And anyway is it really prime-ministerial to deliberately misinform the electorate?.
But to the question: It is very unlikely that things will be the same after the election. If the Conservatives again have the most seats but not a majority It is unlikely that the opposition parties will prop up the Conservatives. The Conservatives have shown themselves unwilling to cooperate with other parties and to work for the good of the majority of Canadians. They have been found in contempt of Parliament and there is no way that the opposition parties should prop them up again. I believe that there will be some sort of agreement between the opposition parties to work together . This agreement will have to have goals that can easily be supported by a majority of MPs so that we will see good government as long as the agreement holds.
If on the other hand we get a Conservative majority, things will change to make the country more like the US under George Bush which is what has been happening in the last few years- more money for weapons, more prisons, higher debt levels, more breaks for the rich and corporations, more corruption and porkbarrelling, and more attacks on democracy. There will be little left for improving and maintaining health care, pensions, jobs, local infrastructure and public transport, and all the other useful things that government can do.
I sense that people are rapidly losing their phobia about coalitions. Just as well, as that is where we are heading. But whether it will be led by Ignatieff or Layton, or even by Harper, remains to be seen. If the Liberals and NDP together have more than half the seats and the NDP nearly as many as the Liberals, Ignatieff may have to reconsider his word about a formal coalition.
One possibility no one is talking about is that some other Conservative than Harper might be able to command the support of the Commons. Party leaders have no legal standing in the government. For that matter, anyone could be asked by the Governor General to lead a government if the MPs agree to co-operate. Guess what, Elizabeth May could be the next prime minister!!
Fredericton, New Brunswick
This election will decide the fate of Canada.If Stephen Harper gets a majority, he will obviously turn our great country into a country under George W. Bush. Quebec will separate and become another North Korea. And Canadian democracy will be obliterated.
I'm not exaggerating. I've been through those kinds of experiences before.
The answer is no. The political landscape is about to change in a significant way. If the Conservatives get a majority, the erosion of our democracy will continue, any opposing voices will be silenced and replaced with individuals who share their views, financial support for women's programs will be significantly reduced, there will be cuts to social programs and therefore, no national housing program or universal child care, poverty will continue to be neglected and the gap between the rich and the poor will widen, we will have an office of religious freedom paid for by our tax dollars, and there will be attempts to establish legal rights for the fetus and where this will go is anyone's guess. If it is another Conservative minority, there will be some limits on what Stephen Harper can do and I am certainly hoping that the NDP will have a stronger voice in Ottawa since they do speak about issues that a majority of Canadians care about.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
The election will certainly decide something. What worries me is that it may show a huge number of fellow Canadians don´t give a hoot about honesty and integrity, and will vote for a leader that has done a complete about-face on promises of avoiding patronage, reforming Senate, fixed election terms, transparency, accountability, health and food safety (nuclear watchdog dismissal, food recalls literally every day!), and...just basic ethics.
Implementing the hazardous mantra of "industry policing itself", skewering our country´s global standing to satisfy special economic interest groups, giving economic stimulus funds to construction businesses for a well-timed, short-lived illusion of economic stability (instead of funding lasting activity in health, education and small business), also seems irrelevant to a large number of voters, according to polls.
What I really worry, is that the polls might be an accurate reflection of a harrowing numbness of sense and ethics in a shockingly large portion of our population, and the possibility of seeing such lack of sense and ethics continue to guide the future of our country.
J. P. Unger
With the latest poll results showing the NDP upswing, I think the Conservatives and Liberals are panicking and we are suddenly seeing negative ads from both parties, attacking Jack Layton and the NDP!! They really hadn't given the NDP much of a chance federally, so had been basically ignoring that party. However, what Harper and Ignatief didn't take into account was the Canadian people--we are tired of the rhetoric, negative attack ads, and lack of substance to their election promises. The NDP are talking to us and making sense--watch Stephen and Michael run, trying to play catch up--so their only reaction is to negatively attack. Keep it up Jack!
Nanaimo, British Columbia
I am of the opinion that this is the last run for the voters at this thing called the democratic process. Either the political will get it right or get it wrong once again and if they fail this time out, which so far I would say they have, the people will turn away from the present party system. I for one have already turned away.
Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia
I am glad to hear about the NDP making inroads in at least two provinces. Maybe this time Canadians will be able to shake off the threat to democratic principles that the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper represents. Harper's arrogance, stubbornness, and unpredictability does not bode well for our country and I certainly hope that enough Canadians will opt for a change for the better.
Dear Cross Country Checkup,
The fundamental question for any society is whether it should be a barbaric
society where a few enjoy the good life and the rest live in grinding poverty
without any rights. OR, whether it should be a just and egalitarian society where everyone has equal rights and opportunities. This question should be front and centre at all times including election time. Every party and every government must be judged on how it deals with this question. Unfortunately, this foundational question is not being given the importance it deserves. Most of the election blather consists of peripheral issues without any philosophical foundations.
This is building a house of cards or constructing an edifice without a foundation.
So what's with the election if we get a number of parties in parliament and nobody with more than half the seats. Good. That is how it ought to be for that is the way the country's voters are. Let's eliminate the unnatural division of seats where parties lust after those few votes here and there perhaps cornering a few more ridings and saving the country from the disaster of an unstable government. At the same time claiming that stability is growth, that magic thing, that suicidal endless, mindless, impossible expansion.
What is needed in parliament is cooperation and compromise. That needs to be started by the simple idea, as practiced in most of Europe, of proportional representation where one third of the vote for many one party gets one third of the seats. Such a division of things will allow the committee system to work and politicians may stop trying to be dictators.
Garibaldi Highlands, British Columbia
In Saanich Gulf Islands we have the opportunity to vote for the leader of the Greens. It is looking good for Elizabeth May and if she can win this seat that will be one long time capital C Conservative riding that will not go to the conservatives - cutting into their majority potential. I would be voting for the liberal candidate, but, the most likely winner is Ms May. I like the platform and this time to quote Danny Williams, "anyone but Harper". I'm not sure that that is strategic voting, because I am politically active, and know the candidates and tend to vote for the candidate that I think best represents my interests in this area. I would like to see Ms. May in the house and the Greens receive the respect that a million Canadians think that they deserve.
Brentwood Bay, British Columbia
The campaign has revealed how Mr. Harper lies to Canadians, in a very scary and worrying way. A lot of people , I am one of them, simply do not trust Harper. We also were able to see that the bloc is not a real option for Quebec. Jack Layton is the only real alternative to the situation that has produced two minority conservative governments. It is clear that Canadians are not fully in line with the Conservatives.
It does not require a miracle for Layton to be elected as PM. People simply have to go out and vote NDP.
The liberals seem happy with a possible second place, and that is not the way to run a campaign. I voted liberal when I lived in Quebec, and on Friday I voted NDP.
I'll be so glad when the so-called experts are proven wrong and voters forget about " strategic voting" & just vote for their candidate. This election should be decided by the electorate, not by academics, the media, or the pollsters. Give the voters some credit. We are not stupid!
Van M. Buchanan
Victoria, British Columbia
It is both my hope and fear that this election will change Canada in a major way. My fear is that Mr. Harper will finally get his clear majority. The reasons for this have been - and will likely be - made clear by others writing and phoning in who share my thinking on the matter.
My hope? I have to admit to being torn between the Green and NDP visions this time out. Both have positive contributions to make to the future of Canada in my view, and some of those contributions may not yet be obvious to any of us, myself included.
There are certainly those amongst the Liberal and Conservative ranks whose careers ought to survive this election. Fairness and truth demand that admission. Steven Fletcher, Ken Dryden, Marc Garneau would be among those ranks, I hope. Their contributions to Canada's well being should not end with this election, whatever else happens.
As for Harper, Contempt of Parliament is no small thing to lose the confidence of the House of Commons over. He ought to reconsider his characterization of that finding.
May Canada not only endure the consequences of this election, but
prosper by them.
Yours in hope,
One disturbing trend I am saddened to see resurfacing is the parade of otherwise sane and rational Canadian parading their Bachelor of Stupidity degrees in full public view.From the flawed logic supporting the cancellation of the long gun registry (just why do all of the hunters trust all of the other hunters?) to the contempt for a leader of higher education. Having doctorates and being of a caliber to teach at a major world-class universities would seem to be a plus in the leadership category, but Canadians seem to despise Mr. Ignatieff for his academic and teaching successes. Maybe it's the springtime. Yes that's it, people get desperately stupid in Spring.
Love the show. As to the NDP surge, good for you Jack.
From where I sit the real issues of this campaign:
Contempt of Parliament! Why is Mr. Harper not being taken to the mat over breaking parliamentary law?
Strategic voting & the possibility of a coalition... Gee Rex, you mean we might have multiple voices forming government? How dare we entertain the idea of democratic compromise. Multiple opinions and perspectives making policy and law! How dare we Canadians experiment with more democracy!
Finally, none of the parties are discussing electoral reform! The number of seats parties get does not reflect their percentage of the vote. Time for a change.
What I most fear is a majority government elected by a minority of Canadians. What I dream of is a coalition government elected by the majority of Canadians. The current political landscape does not permit a majority government elected by a majority of Canadians. A true coalition would develop a Canadian Strategic Plan which would inform policies and initiatives. It is only with such leadership we can fulfill the promise held in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The failure of recent minority governments is a consequence of their inability to negotiate and collaborate with others. this need not happen.
I live in Alberta where for the most part, only the Harper votes count; in this election no one seems to care that large numbers of voters cannot have their voice heard and some rural votes are worth as much as 5=6 urban votes. This could be remedied by allocating 25%, or 77 seats on a rep by pop basis. I suspect there is not appetite for even partial rep by pop because all the parties are content with these serial dictatorships parading as democracies. A partial rep by pop system would likely result in many minority governments forcing the MP's to play nicely in the same sandbox - at least it would be more democratic than what we have now.
St. Albert, Alberta
I also am waiting for that boat called Change. I am so tired of both the Conservative and the Liberal party rhetoric. On TV Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff remind me of talking dolls with pull-cords that are so far out of touch with the electorate, blind to those they represent, and limited in what they say. I am voting for Jack Layton and the NDP as this man represents my political principles, understands Canadians and speaks with his heart. Voting should be about an individual's beliefs, issues and principles, not a poker game on where to throw a vote.
Chilliwack, British Columbia
One topic that has been under-covered in this election campaign is the Conservative government's investment in Carbon Capture and Sequestration. It's been known for some time that the 1.4 billion in federal funds from the 2008 and 2009 budgets produced a very, very poor return in cost per tonne sequestered. What was not widely understood until recently that Bruce Carson has been in the middle of this fiasco. Carson, was a top insider in the Harper campaign machine running up to the 2008 election. Following that, he was installed with a $15 million federal grant in the Canada School for Energy and the Environment. Given his track record that has since come to light, should there not be a more careful investigation of who the beneficiaries were of the $1.4 billion. Do you suppose there is any chance that his influence with the PMO might have resulted in the enrichment of a few favorites at the expense of the taxpayer?
This is in response to one of your earlier callers re cut in business taxes. There is absolutely no proof that low corporate taxes actually create jobs and improve the economy - e.g. Ireland!! Mr. Flaherty wanted us to become another Ireland in 2006. Pretty scary!
On another issue, I heard Rex Murphy at the outset talk about Peter Mansbridge's interview with Michael Ignatieff and repeating the statement that Mr. Ignatieff raised the coalition issue. In point of fact, Mr. Mansbridge raised the issue and almost forced a response from Mr. Ignatieff, who gave a totally legitimate and accurate response. Mr. Mansbridge was hard and almost hostile with Michael Ignatieff in contrast to the interview with Mr. Harper, where he allowed Mr. Harper to dominate the interview. Peter Mansbridge came off as timid and amateurish - in fact I think a journalism student could have done better. I think Mr. Mansbridge allowed himself to be bowled over without a struggle - or he allowed his bias to show, something I hope is not true.
I heard several callers and guests on the show today say that voters opposed to the Conservative government don't have the luxury of voting for the NDP, that they must vote Liberal in order to defeat the Conservatives. It makes me wonder what would happen if everyone who wanted to vote NDP did so. They might be contenders for forming a government. In the past, it seems to me, that the NDP wasn't a viable option for forming a federal government because they didn't have any seats in Quebec. If they are able to change this, we should seriously consider them as an alternative to the Conservatives.
I've been listening intently to your show and have heard the point of view of a lot of paranoid Liberals who seem to be on the offensive about Jack Layton. Many Liberals must be coming to terms with the possibility of the NDP forming the opposition and the prospect of the Liberal Party being relegated to third party status. Many Liberals who believed the Liberal party were given a divine right to govern Canada and believe the world would come to an end if any other party formed a government must see Layton, and not Harper, as their greatest threat and rightfully so. I believe Jack Layton is the most viable choice for Prime Minister this time around but the long standing two party mentality in too many parts of Canada will only give Layton as much as a seat the opposition leader. But at least this is the next logical step in the evolution of NDP and a sign it has finally come of age as the Party which best represents Canadians' values.
Summerside, Prince Edward Island
I'm very disappointed that the handful of Animal alliance-Environment voters candidates have so far not been able to get either the media or the big parties to talk about these important issues. Factory farming is disastrous, for the animals and the environment. Why are taxpayers subsidizing the brutal slaughter of young seals just so a few Maritimers can make a few dollars, not a real
We know Canadians care about animals - when a particularly appalling case of cruelty to animals comes to light, MPs are inundated with messages. But we still have a century-old law that treats sentient creatures as if they were mere property.
Two wars, and hardly a word about it. Unbelievable! Where are the peace-nicks?
Robson Valley East, British Columbia
The dept is the highest on my list of importance. Although the Conservatives have taken the credit for all things positive
in the economy but it was the vision of the Liberals that made this possible. What upset me most is what happened to the constituency fund set up by the Liberals for the bad years. I remember Harper getting rid of this and made quick moves to spend this funding. The other point that keep Canada from falling too far as with the US is the regulation off the banks which by the way was the very thing that Harper tried to change. I am surprised the other parties haven't brought up the constituency fund and how it shows a lack of vision on Harpers part. What did Harper think, that there wasn't going to be bad years? How much less the deficit would be if he had contributed to the fund in the good years. Who likes to wake up in the morning and find the principle on the mortgage is more than the year before.
Fredericton, New Brunswick
The woman who said that none of the candidates for our election had any "pop" etc., today---
I have to disagree with. Elizabeth May does. Not only does she have that, but she
cares enough about our country to avoid zig zagging across it in a bus or private jet, with
very little carbon foot print during her campaign. I think she can be trusted more
than the other parties to keep her promise. It is unfortunate that the media has done a poor
job supporting her in coverage.
If the NDP surge holds in Quebec, even if it does not affect who makes up the next government, it will make a difference in how that government acts, because for the past twenty years, the center and center right parties have seen growth potential only to their right, and so have shifted that way. But if the left voters of Quebec become seen as a source of growth potential, both of those parties will now start shifting to the left, and the following campaign season will be, once again, about appealing to the left rather than the right.
Regarding this current election campaign I am disappointed there has not been a lot more emphasis on ethics in government. A previous caller mentioned respect for Mr Harper. I personally cannot respect anyone who treats "contempt of Parliament" as a game where you win some and loose some. Then there is the Bev Oda affair where a minister has a document altered after being approved by others and then lies about it to a parliamentary committee. This action was approved by Mr. Harper. We can't forget the in and Out Scandal, the firing of Linda Keen - the list could go on and on. Mr. Harper's statement that he thought Canadians were more interested in economics and ethics was a great affront to me. Perhaps it is indicative of his own values.
Thank you for the program.
First of all it's not barbecue weather here. It's April in Newfoundland, enough said. To respond to the caller who just asked why are we having an election. We're having an election because the "Harper government" as it likes to call itself, is in contempt of parliament. Does it get any more serious than that? Why is this not an issue? The sponsorship scandal is being rehashed while this contempt for parliament and contempt for the voter is being ignored.
And if you want to talk about managing the economy, the "Harper government" managed to eliminate a surplus and spend the country into a deficit and they're conning the electorate about what it will take to get back into the black because it's now a structural deficit thanks to their mismanagement.
Portugal Cove - St. Philip's, Newfoundland
Brad Wall expressed concern for the energy industry out West if this election resulted in a non-Conservative government. It might be worth remembering that the country which by most accounts has done the best job of managing its natural resources in the past thirty years, and brought wealth and prosperity to all its citizens, is Norway. And this has been achieved under the auspices of a social democratic government similar in many respects to the NDP. Rather than enrich the mostly American shareholders of the energy companies out West, perhaps an NDP government would ensure that the wealth of those natural resources benefited the citizens?!
Isn't anyone concerned about the strange platform of Mr. Harper about 60 billion jet planes? I have a son trying to get funding for medical school. I read that this would pay for 100,000 students to go to university for one year and this is before the hidden costs are coming out.
Cumberland, British Columbia
I'm amazed at the lack of understanding of democracy exhibited by those who scream about coalitions, but it is unforgivable that a Premier of a Canadian province should show this confusion. In his comment on today's show, Premier Wall said that any coalitions would be an affront to the democratic wishes of the Canadian electorate. I suppose in his eyes only Conservative voters are legitimate electors. My view is that all voters are legitimate and should the combined seats elected by The NDP and the Liberals exceed that of the Conservatives then a coalition would be neither an affront to anybody, except maybe Stephen Harper, nor would it be undemocratic. I'm also disappointed in the pundits who don't dispute the Conservatives when they make such spurious claims.
Love the show..
One of the issues that is often overlooked is the analysis of this, and other, elections is the long term strategy by the right to get Canadians to think of themselves merely as taxpayers and not as citizens. This has been the most effective wedge strategy of the Conservatives to date, getting us to think of ourselves as merely people with rights, financial mainly, and not citizens with responsibilities to our fellow citizens. And the media, including you, Rex, have gone right along with this reductionist framing of our identity, which has had repercussions in rejigging our ideological spectrum. Thanks for the great show today, as always.
Vancouver, British Columbia
I find a lot of inconsistency and hypocrisy about several peoples so called "constitutional" concern about a coalition involving the Bloc. If we were so concerned about this aspect why does Canada allow the Bloc to be in Parliament in the first place. Either allow them to function as any other party , or just get rid of them.
However I am not surprised, Canada is the same country of the cowardly notwithstanding constitutional clause , allowing the Quebec governments to get away with human rights infringements. So why not the Bloc, they are just as notwithstanding as Bill 101.
Pointe Claire, Quebec
The prospect of the Bloc Quebecois supporting a Liberal government is a totally bogus issue. Harper was ready to form a coalition with them in 2004. He has relied on their support at times in the last few years. They are legitimate MPs voted into office by Canadians. The reality is that no votes coming up in parliament over the next four years are going to be about splitting up the country. The issue is that the Conservatives are trying to divide voters by making some Canadians fear other Canadians.
Vancouver, British Columbia
I have been listening to cross country checkup and have heard two callers say Ignatieff brought down the government . I understood the government fell because of contempt of parliament - the first time the government has fallen in any commonwealth country because of contempt. It was not the budget. I wanted that to be clarified.
Great show today. In the interest of historical accuracy I would like to correct the statement made by a caller that Real Caouette was leader of the CCF in Quebec. He was in fact leader of the Social Credit Party, a very different entity. Another important difference worth noting between Caouette and Jack Layton is that Caouette was indeed a car salesman, whereas Layton, despite what his separatist opponents may say, is not now, and never has been a car dealer.
I have been wondering this for awhile, I would like to know who might have been in power when they allowed the Bloc to become a Federal Party. I'm sorry to say that since they have entered the federal realm government has not been the same. As long as they are allowed to stay in there then I would have to spoil my ballot. It makes a mockery of the whole Federal system.
Moncton, New Brunswick
Dear Cross Country Check-up,
As I sit here studying medicine as a student at the University of Toronto instead of having headed home for Easter Holidays, I've turned on CBC looking for some reminder of home. I was struck listening to Premier Wall talk about the big issues for this country. Might I remind him of the other sphere of public policy and Saskatchewan is so proud of: health policy.
With the 2014 Health Accord up for discussion in the coming years, I vote in this election thinking about the future of Canadian healthcare. Having completed my Masters in Health Economics at LSE, I see in the policies of the Conservatives answers that would destroy the essence of the pride we have in healthcare. I see in the policies of the NDP the inability to understand the systemic changes that are required to make healthcare sustainable and affordable. But when I look at the Liberals, I see a mix of passion and policy in Ignatieff. Long before he considered becoming Prime Minister, this man was regarded internationally as a leading public intellectual. He has written a Booker nominated book, 'Scar Tissue', that inspires me as a physician to practice medicine. What's wrong with a leader who runs deep with the capacity to make good public policy?
I'm afraid for the institution upon which I've built my civic pride.
Stephen Harper is talking about how well he has managed the economy, but it was the other parties that forced those polices on the Conservatives. Has anyone noticed?
If there is a Liberal-NDP coalition then the government will be representative of a greater proportion of the electorate. What is the problem with that? If the Conservatives don't want the Block to support such a government, then they could support it.
Rex Murphy mentioned that unions also fund politics in USA, apropos of political funding in Canada. It should be pointed out that in USA currently, of the top 10 political donors, 7 are corporations, all of which support the Republican Party, only 3 are unions, and they of course support the Democratic party. Thus the movement to render the public sector unions irrelevant in Wisconsin can be interpreted as a movement to starve the Democratic Party of funding. Equally in Canada, any move to starve the left leaning parties of funding, while at the same time supporting unrestricted funding by the business sector to right of centre groups should be seen as harmful to a balanced, democratic system. Not what we want in Canada, regardless of one's politics.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Parliament is the eye on the doings of the government. When the government refuses to turn over information to parliament.what do you think should the opposition do? How can we re-elect such a government?
Victoria, British Columbia
Reality Check, regarding $1,000 as a grant to potential students (or better yet make it tuition free). This election promise is totally irrelevant concerning access to post-secondary education in Canada. All available spaces for students in Canadian colleges and universities are sold out for the foreseeable future.
Mr. Harper has said on many occasions that, the constitution aside, Canadians will not stand for a party forming a government that they did not vote for.
I did not vote for Mr. Harper last election and neither did over 50% of Canadian voters.Therefore Mr. Harper's fears only make sense if we realize that Mr. Harper considers that those who support him financially are the only Canadians that count. In other words he doesn't want to lose their support.