What's at stake for you in this election?
On Cross Country Checkup: the election
Parliament has been boiling for months and now the pressure can no longer be contained. So, we're off ...into Canada's fourth general election in seven years.
What's at stake for you in this election?
With host Rex Murphy.
Toll-free number 1-888-416-8333 (works only during the broadcast)
Today we want to talk about the fact that Canada is once again in a general election campaign. It's the fourth in seven years. The Conservative government fell in a confidence motion introduced Friday in the House of Commons by the Liberals, whose Leader Michael Ignatieff said the Harper government had lost the trust of Parliament. It was the end of a particularly bitter session ...one some observers have described as toxic.
The Liberals are making this campaign about the issue of trust. The Conservatives say it's about who you think will do a better job of managing the economy in uncertain times. The NDP say it's about electing a government who will cooperate with other parties in order to do the things that need to be done.
Not many substantive issues there. The last election too was fought over matters of trust, leadership and style ...there was no real defining issue of the type we have seen in previous times.
Some say the results might well end up being pretty much the same ...another minority Conservative government. But each party is hoping to gain enough ground that the end result will be different.
And even if the results are more or less the same, will there still be winners and losers? Would that mean that each party will start looking for a new leader who can gain some ground? Would it 'reset' Parliament and ensure more cordial relations between the members?
What about issues? Is this election simply about who you would rather have take the reins of power ....or are there specific issues that you would like to see some attention focused upon? Our question today: "What is at stake for you in this election?"
I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 137 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
- Chris Hall
CBC's National Affairs Editor.
- Darrell Bricker
Chief Executive Officer, Ipsos Public Affairs.
- Barbara Yaffe
Columnist Vancouver Sun.
- Anthony Sayers
Political Science Professor, University of Calgary. Author of Candidates and Constituency Campaigns in Canadian Elections, UBC Press.
- Election day set for May 2
- Harper asks voters for majority
- 'Coalition' battle kicks off campaign
- Ignatieff swears off coalition
- Budget highlights: Small measures for many
- Liberals attack budget as 'out of touch'
- Opposition lines up against government
- Let the campaign begin, by Greg Weston
- Canada Votes 2011: Full election coverage
- Vote Compass: 2011 Federal election - Find out whose views are most like yours
- Harper announces federal election to be held on May 2
- Layton vows to 'fix' government if elected PM
- Ignatieff's coalition stance is still ambiguous, by John Ivison
- By unequivocally ruling out coalition with BQ, Ignatieff does the right thing
Globe and Mail
- Federal election called for May 2
- A plum pox on all the leaders' houses, by Margaret Wente
- Many bills would die with election call
- The Big Fifty seats that will steer the country
I would like to call on all citizens who are fed-up with the elected politicians abusing our trusts to put on such irresponsible wasteful attitude of tax-payers' money to have the fourth election in seven years to run as an independent, to voice our frustration and message out loud. Even though we are sure that we are wasting our time and own finances. However, we need to send our messages to them every time they put on such abusive and wasteful attitude toward citizens' trust; in hope, we might finally get our messages across in the future!
On the surface this seems like a simple question but it is not. What is at stake for me is the state of our democracy and whether or not government policies truly reflect Canadians' priorities. In terms of our democracy, a primary concern is whose voices get heard and which ones are ignored or silenced. A pattern has developed with this government where those individuals who present different points of view have their character personally attacked. The control of information is another way that voices get silenced. Then, we are repeatedly told that this is what Canadians want. This phrase irks me to no end. My priorities include having available and affordable child care for families, implementing the Senate report titled " in from the margins", having a sustainable public health care system, protecting our environment, supporting women's issues including ending gender based violence, and improving Canada's stance in the world around human rights and not building prisons, buying fighter jets or corporate tax cuts to name a few. Canadians deserve better.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Nothing, so I will vote for a party that will not win (sic). I will vote Green to put my slight weight behind the push of this idea into the consciousness of the selfish masses (...not sure if that refers to the public or politicians).
What's at stake is whether we have an ethical government or not, which we did not have with Stephen Harper. After he was fittingly found in contempt of Parliament he then showed contempt for all intelligent Canadians with his hypocrisy shown when he denounced the idea of the opposition MPs forming a coalition government. As Mr. Duceppe showed, Mr. Harper thought it was fine for the Conservatives to be part of such an arrangement in 2004.
Notice, Harper's first and fiercest attack was not on the Liberals, but on the legitimate option of a coalition, for one simple reason. A coalition of the non-Conservative parties would do two things -- unite four parties who together represent two-thirds of the 2008 electorate, and shift the focus of federal politics back to their natural center, far more economically careful and socially sensible than the US styled military, economic and political strategies of Harper's party. A coalition would sideline Harper forever.
A coalition, of course, is not necessary to make this happen. Liberals know something about co-operation, and have far more in common with NDP, Greens and even the BQ, than they do with the minority Conservatives. Even a Liberal minority would replace the "Harper Government" with a Government of Canada, overnight.
Stephen Harper has totally embraced the politics of fear taken right out of a hymnal of the Republican Party. He seems to believe that if you tell a lie often enough, people will come to accept it is true.
His fixation on making the word "coalition" as dirty as what his right wing buddies to the south did to the word "liberal" makes him seem downright unhinged and nearing hysteria.
On the plus side, if he keeps campaigning this way, political satirists will have lots of material to skewer him with.
Heart's Delight, Newfoundland
Hi Rex, I guess my comment would be that based on TV advertising we are in a state of "constant campaigning" especially by the Conservative Party and I feel the elections will continue until Mr. Harper gets his desired majority. However he constantly denies that he ever wanted an election so there are so many mixed messages that it is almost hard to fathom. With our 4 (5) party system a minority government will unfortunately be our status quo.
New Glasgow, Nova Scotia
My primary interest in this election is that the subject of the environment gets the attention that it deserves. Both major parties consistently pay lip service to one of the top poll items over the past decade. My belief is that Canada would best be served by a coalition government, taking the best talent in each party and working through our complex problems; the environment would best be served through the election of the Green Party's Elizabeth May who could become a stellar minister of the environment.
$300 million dollars could almost clean up homelessness in Vancouver, for example, but instead we are asked to spend $300 million on a "waste of time" election. We might have another Conservative minority or a Conservative majority. Either way, the country has been running very well; this is nothing but a waste of our time and resources.
If I had a question, I would ask how we are going to find ways to supply sustainable and reliable infrastructure funding for Canadian cities. The majority of Canadian cities have huge infrastructure issues looming and no plan is being proposed by anyone.
Dear Cross Country Checkup,
I would like to see the "National Party" of the Bloc Quebecois be required to have candidates in all provinces, so that I could vote for them and then if they won, the "rest of Canada" would become their responsibility. Failing this, I would like them not to be allowed to be a national party anymore, as they are clearly not.
Without the Bloc, Canada could perhaps have national parties who would govern for the whole of our country as a nation, rather than constantly having this party "bloc-ing" the ongoing business of governing Canada. Regarding that, I would wish that all our federal politicians would actually work on Canada's business instead of the business of slagging at each other.
I think low voter turnout is a problem. Consider what people in Libya are willing to sacrifice for this privilege. It's time to look at e-voting to bring the democratic process to the youth, and involve a new generation.
Don't underestimate Stephen Harper, he may still be the smartest man in the room.
Personally, I don't see a Liberal NDP coalition as a bad thing. I like my current NDP MP and a coalition is probably the best opportunity for him to be part of a governing party.
I think Mr. Harper, by accusing the opposition of plotting a coalition, is trying to demonize the idea and get one or more of the other leaders to deny the possibility. This denial could then be used by Harper if he does end up with another minority.
I believe Stephen Harper is a very intelligent man but I believe that his intelligence is being wasted on the diabolical and manipulative career of a politician who would rather win than play by the rules.
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia
What's at stake in the next election is the state of our country as we know it. Since the Harperites have demonstrated a remarkable disregard for Canadians and their institutions in a minority government; how can anyone think they'll behave themselves with a Majority. We've seen the deliberate attempts to block access to information, the advent of Republican style trash attack ads and the funneling of tax dollars into partisan propaganda with the ten percenters, partisan letter writing campaigns conducted by Tory MP's and Senators and the recent $26million spent on advertising the stimulus package after it's termination. We've witnessed the re-branding of Canadian Government office websites as the "Harper Government". Competent professionals have been removed from advisory boards, funding slashed from both environmental research groups and protection groups and equal rights have been eroded through poison bills slipped into finance bills. I could go on and on about unscrupulous behavior by these characters from their first days in office.
If we give Mr. Harper a majority, we'll be faced with more damage. I imagine that one of the first things to go will be CBC followed quickly by even more draconian budget slashing for scientific research and the arts. But we'll have so many expensive prisons that one has to wonder what kinds of new crimes these goons will have to invent in order to fill them.
Two things I would like to see from all parties in this campaign and subsequent Parliamentary session. First, a clean campaign without so many personal attacks and slurs on the part of the party leaders. Take a lesson from Naheed Nenshi, the Mayor of Calgary. Second, once the new Parliament is in session, I would like all MPs to work harder at common civility. I get very upset when commentators say that MPs are acting like children. I am an elementary teacher, and children have a lot to teach those mainly middle aged adults about conflict management and using kinder words and actions
I listened to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's rant about the upcoming election on CBC yesterday morning with some disgust. He said that it would be "undemocratic" if the opposition parties formed a coalition. According to Webster's Dictionary, "democracy is government by the people; esp: rule of the majority". If the Conservatives have 40% of seats and the opposition parties have 60% of seats in parliament, do they not have a majority and a mandate to rule for the people? Of course, since we do not have proportional representation, the number of seats that each party has does not represent the actual votes cast for the representatives. It has happened in our electoral system that a party with the majority of votes actually has the minority of seats, and vice versa. And in some constituencies one out of eight people vote for the Green Party and they have no representation whatsoever!
After watching the petulant behavior of the liberals, the arrogant behavior of the conservatives and the ineffectual nature of the NDP for the past few years which really has resulted in no significant progress for the country. I have to say that the only thing that this election makes me want to do is start an online petition to remove the right for any of them to refer to themselves as "the right honorable" as there certainly seems to be neither any honor or concern for the country to be found in any of them.
The truth is, I won't do it because other than the callers to your show, I and most people can't be bothered with any of them.
I believe that Mr. Harper was elected on a promise of accountability and transparency - and he has done nothing to carry that out from the day he took over parliament. Some items - the ruling against him re: "contempt of parliament", hiding the price of his corrections "reform", and the lack of co-operation with the other parties to better the condition of all Canadians.
Myrna Helen Sprecker
The election is about balancing the necessity of the F35 jets vs. a fragile economy. Secondly it is about the huge budget increase to fund more prisons. This is a dramatic shift to a US style legal system and one that does not work. Third, the reduction of funds for environment. I will be interesting to see how the Conservatives will explain this, especially when the economy is considered "fragile."
Vancouver, British Columbia
Most important in this discussion, as has been said already on your program tonight, and then promptly forgotten, is that Stephen Harper wanted this election. He engineered it. And his protestations to the contrary are laughable. Anyone who's been watching television for the last six months has seen a government campaigning with our money, slandering their opponents with their money, and doing little else.
This needs to be remembered. The question is, how watchful are the people of this country? If they're paying attention, Harper should be in serious trouble.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
No party is talking about our national debt. Not the deficit but the debt. I don't like the fact that a large part of every dollar I send to Ottawa goes to service our loans. If we eliminated this burden even the NDP could not spend all of surplus cash the government would have.
I am angry - where is the vision from any of these parities? Where are the real issues? Global warming for one! The greatest threat to our planet, way of life and survival. We need leadership and cooperation - not gamesmanship and petty sniping.
I am proud of my country - not of my government. Stop - think - get our act together and work together to fight global warming.
Nelson, British Columbia
Thanks for the great show!
So many of your guests have already articulated well what is at stake for most of us during this election. But we see voter apathy and disinterest as a real problem going into this vote. The more engaged we are the greater the voter turnout and the greater the chance that we might actually move forward as a nation.
All the best,
Heather and Dan del Villano
Should there be an election: Absolutely, we deserve better, much better. What is the issue, the preservation and promotion of democracy, transparency and accountability. Without this basic building block, the other issues, which there are many of, cannot be soundly discussed and resolved. This government fails miserably on all counts.
Leadership, options are slim, but we must firmly reject behavior that smacks of dictatorship, deceit.
Integrity, the current government falls short.
Canadians exercising their democratic rights is always a good thing. Those who claim it's a waste of money are anti-democrats, including our current PM.
I am hoping people will not allow the past actions of the Harper Government to go unanswered. Karl Rove style attacks on the opposition, gagging his own MP's, refusing to answer directly to questions asked by our journalists and essentially carrying on with immunity to law and peoples wishes.
Panama City, Panama
I think that if the opposition really wanted Canadians to get behind their contempt of parliament reason for bringing down the government, they should have done so before the budget was dropped.It is obvious to all that they wanted to wait to see if they were going to get what they wanted out of the budget. If they were serious about the contempt of parliament, it should not have mattered what was in the budget.
North Vancouver, British Columbia
The nature of parties in Parliament is to disagree, but in the last four Parliament sittings have been so antagonistic that our Parliamentarians have resorted to constantly go to the polls. If there is to be a stop to all this fighting it will have to come from the top, and inasmuch as our leaders will not change their stripes why don't we get the voters of our leaders ridings to not elect the leaders. If Canadian reject the leaders a message will be fired across the hull of the Party bough, that will be heard down the halls of power.
With the leaders dumped by the people, the parties will have to vote in new leaders. Only, they will be looking to find leaders that will work in harmony with the other leaders. Is it hard to see that things would most definitely change.
There just isn't a party that is able to Represent the Country as a whole----time to suggest that we go to representation by region instead of representation by population
I have just heard you repeat that you don't think that Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois should be allowed to participate in federal debates. Do you think it is wise that a democracy ignore the will of 25% of its voters and don't you think that such a rebuff to Quebeckers would only hasten the breakup of the country which you use to justify your position ?
I'm saddened that not one of the quests or callers has mentioned the environment yet. I think it's vital that we no longer serve only our needs, we need to turn our hearts and minds to the big picture.
The environment needs our attention immediately and would like that parties, all of the parties, to start telling us what they plan to do about the crisis we are all facing/not facing (whichever the case may be).
For once I hope that people do not sit at home on voting day and grumble about the lack of charisma among the candidates, the lack of ideas being discussed, or the lack of decorum and respect our politicians show for one another and, by extension, the general populace. If we want change on any of these fronts then you must vote each and every time you get the chance whether you vote for the garden gnome party or the boring guy in the sweater vest, the commitment you provide to our democratic system of governance through the simple act of marking an X on the ballot carries with it a momentum that, if strong enough, will produce a better day in Canada. Imagine if 70% of eligible voters exercise their democratic right on voting day. The stakes will immediately increase for all involved: the politicians will need to listen more, voters will have more say, with the inevitable result being a more productive exchange of ideas.
Victoria, British Columbia
Rex, if Mr. Harper feels that a coalition isn't legitimate does that mean he doesn't recognize the new British Government?
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Given Harpers disdain for the house of commons, it seems obvious that he does not want to bother with democracy. God only knows what he would do with a majority, for example, get rid of the gun registry, bring back capital punishment, build more prisons like the U. S. reduce corporate taxes, increase regressive taxes like pst gst hst, buy fighter planes, abolish housing programs like co-op housing, force more children into poverty. He would change the face of Canada forever. We have a recovering economy because we are a wealthy country. Harper's contempt for parliament shows his contempt for all of us.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Should a democratic election be based on the amount of negative advertising a party can pay for to weaken the leader of another party on very dubious grounds?
We are headed to the same kind of government again and again. Something has to change to bring people out to vote. Surely there is a better way for those people who know they will not get the party of choice. The two main parties do not interest me at all. Someone who will bring back decorum to parliament is what I want, and soon.
The political debates that CBC has had in the past were scored, were they not? and who won?
People have found majority governments in contempt: it's call revolution. Within the limits of democratic society, our majority governments will never be found in contempt: those back benchers who might vote with the opposition rarely do. Let's hope Canadians are ethical and involved in the debate. Then the outcome will reflect the majority opinion. Ignoring the question is tacit approval of a real problem, Mr. Harper reflects many aspects of Nixon. Power is blessed.
Sherwood Park, Alberta
Stephen Harper's government is the result of a coalition between the PC party and the Alliance party. His mean-spirited approach is pretty indicative of what I think is an overwhelming mean-spirited attitude of those who support him as evidenced on this show by their total lack of respect for the other party leaders.
Hantsport Nova Scotia
Monsieur Harpers behaviors sound alarm bells in my brain. He names the Government of Canada after his own name. He has nothing but scorn for the people that do not agree with him. He does not seem to be worried about being found in contempt of parliament. It seems that he considers that he does not have to respect the rules. He wants to make his own, this kinds of behavior could be the one of a budding dictator. I strongly believe that we should be worried about electing someone with this frame of mind.
Destiny Bay, British Columbia
I believe that P.M. Harper is not only in contempt of parliament, he is also in contempt of the people of Canada. All he seems to care about is being in control of everything, ironically, not unlike Ghadaffi in Libya. Mr. Harper has no respect for the intelligence nor the needs of the Canadian public, and he shows that every time he uses those mean and vindictive attack ads against the other party leaders, instead of putting forth an intelligent, well-thought-out election platform. He has shown that he is willing to be manipulative, mean-spirited and very disrespectful. I'm ashamed to have him for a Prime Minister.
I'm voting for Elizabeth May and the Green Party. Ms. May is the only national party leader that actually answers all the questions asked of her, no baffle-gab, ever! And she always has intelligent, well-thought-out, long-term solutions for whatever the subject. All without looking at a single note to read from. She is the only leader I can respect and believe in.
Sackville, New Brunswick
The elephant in the room, being ignored, is the outdated "first past the post" system. This was fine in a two party system. However, recent elections show that Canadians hold a diverse range of political views not adequately represented by simply center-left or center-right. None of the main parties will entertain the challenge of constitutional reform necessary to create some sort of proportional/preferential electoral system because they dream of the elusive so-called majority.
Many Canadians have some contempt for parliament because their votes go uncounted. In a four five way race, riding by riding, the winner in our current system often has less than a third of eligible voters' support; and so a majority government is often held by less than the electorate
We would treat with scorn developing countries where they claim to be democratic while the majority of citizens are not represented by government. If we doubt that people are frustrated we need only look at how many people took to the streets at the G20 or how lower our voter turnout rates are.
White Lake, Ontario
If the election question is trust, why should I trust Harper? He's the most Machiavellian Canadian PM ever. Harper lies(coalition), cheats (ask Elizabeth May) and steals (In and Out scandal). He dismisses public servants because they don't kowtow to his orders. He forces honorable public servants to quit to maintain their professional integrity (StatsCan). Why would the Canadian electorate think of electing Harper PM? Because they don't trust Michael Ignatieff? They don't trust Ignatieff because the Harper Conservatives have been portraying him as untrustworthy for months.
Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia
Is it time for Canada to have Proportional Representation?
The only answer to "1st over the line" and "never ending minority" governments
Fredericton, New Brunswick
In addition to the obvious, like his anti abortion position, his lack of transparency, the series of attack ads that are totally offensive and not even true, and the series of ethical challenges that his government is facing, we now have the spectacle of Harper lecturing Canadians on why coalition government is not legitimate, and waving his finger in our collective faces telling us we MUST give him a majority government or else! This is patronizing in the extreme not to mention just plain rude. You could even say it's Un Canadian. Then there's his feigned disappointment in the election! Harper is Prime Minister of a minority government yet he's been governing like he had a majority - how legitimate is that? If he really didn't want an election, why didn't he work with the opposition to bring in a budget that would ensure the opposition would support it. Really Rex, what's to like about this man?
Vancouver, British Columbia
The right question in this election perhaps should be - or certainly should be - not which is the best party, but which is the worse. That is, the job voters might be actually stuck with is picking the lesser of four or five evils. I would, incidentally, put the Harper Reform Conservatives at the bottom of my list.
Sydney, Nova Scotia
I happen to be one of many Liberals in Alberta. We have always been wiped off the table because of our voting system. But to the point: The ones who forced en election are the conservatives under the leadership (read dictatorship) of Steven Harper. I agree with many people who phoned in with their comments. First of all, many of the promises of Harper were ignored as soon as elections were over. His harping on a certain coalition between other parties if he gets a minority government is tiresome. His focus right now on this issue is obviously to screen the many other issues on which he would lose the election. Think very expensive, unnecessary Jets, Bev Oda affair, contempt of Parliament issue (a crime), the list is long. Furthermore, Harper's patronizing attitude, his lack of listening skills, his expressions of what he thinks "all Canadians" want or not want (I, for one, was never among his "all Canadians") has irritated me for years now. I have now developed such a dislike of even his face, that I turn the channel or turn my head when his "fatherly" facial features appear on the TV screen. I despise the man and all his antics. The people who are happy with his way of governing are probably not sick, not unemployed, not in need of home care or have other health care necessities, etc. To be happy with our high value dollar is a sign that people are not aware of the consequences for our global trade needs. I could go one, but for now this is hopefully enough to set some of "all Canadians" thinking. By the way, I am in favour of mandatory voting, like they have in other countries. Thanks for reading and hopefully out loud on the radio. I am worried.