It's official: Harper sees Duffy's shadow, so it's 11 more weeks of election

The dropping of the writs is a lot like Groundhog Day. Before the big event, the media rolls in. The satellite trucks are set up; reporters babble about what might happen and the TV cameras are pointed at something quite boring. And then

Comedian Mark Critch sees a lot of similarities between today's election call and another much-hyped event

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper spoke with reporters Sunday after the Governor General agreed to dissolve Parliament and drop the writs, whatever that means. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

Today, the writs were dropped. Stephen Harper asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament, kicking off an 11-week long campaign that actually started when that horrible actor told us Justin Trudeau had "nice hair though."

The dropping of the writs is a lot like Groundhog Day. Before the big event, the media rolls in. The satellite trucks are set up, reporters babble about what might happen and the TV cameras are pointed at something quite boring.

On Groundhog Day, it's a burrow. Reporters tell us what we already know, that if the groundhog sees his shadow it will mean six more weeks of winter.

When the writs are dropped, cameras are pointed at the door of Rideau Hall. We hear facts about what type of door it is. "The door is made of Canadian maple and was hand cut by a half-cut Sir John A Macdonald, who chopped the tree down himself using only a beaver."

Reporters drone on about what might be happening behind the door and we wait. We wait for the PM to look into the shadows, see Mike Duffy, a recession and Joe Oliver crying, then tell us that we have 11 more weeks of election.

The only real difference between the two events is the star. At one event, we wait for a pudgy, grey rodent. Whereas at the other, we wait for a groundhog.

On Groundhog day, there is no opposition. No other rodents come out to say what a jerk the groundhog is. There is no gopher waddling up to a microphone claiming he can end winter in four weeks. This is not the case when the writs are dropped. Once Harper crawls back into his hole, every rat for miles around crawls out of the woodwork.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, was with his wife, Catherine Pinhas Mulcair, in Gaineau, Que. for a press conference ... minus the input of the press. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

When Thomas Mulcair spoke, he said that he would offer change from what we have been seeing from the Conservatives. Then he refused to take questions. Someone is changing all right.

A debate of one?

Mulcair is refusing to take part in any debates unless the Conservative leader is there. So that's basically saying, "I'll never debate." Maybe this is actually a masterful move by Justin Trudeau, who somehow orchestrated the only scenario in which he could win a debate — by not having anyone to debate.

No debates and no questions. And now Harper has out-Harpered himself by vetting every single person who comes to a Conservative event. Harper said, "in the coming weeks, I will be meeting with Canadians all across the country."

Eleven weeks? It's like the Canadian government consulted a think tank and asked, 'How can we make a Canadian election even more boring?'

That may be true, but Harper won't shake a single un-fingerprinted hand during the entire campaign. "Have you met our prime minister, the bubble boy? Would you like a picture with him? I'll just need to see your Conservative party membership card and your 2014 taxes. Now sign the non-disclosure agreement and give me your Facebook password."

Both Tom and Harper said a lot of things today. Just about the only thing that neither of them said in either official language was a name: Trudeau — or, He Who Must Not Be Named.

In his speech, Harper said this was "not a popularity contest." Really? Because you have spent almost all of your advertising budget talking about a dude's hair.

Justin could not be found because he had chosen to fly to Vancouver today. Yes, when the election was called, Justin literally had his head in the clouds.

Harper keeps saying that Justin is "just not ready." Well, in some ways, Harper is right. Nobody was ready. We all thought the election was weeks away. This election will be so long that by the time it's over, Justin might actually be ready.

Even Justin will seem mature, wise and grizzled by the end of this thing. That terrible actor will be in a new ad, glancing at a picture of Justin and saying, "His hair is too gray to be prime minister. Justin Trudeau — he's just too ready."

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau crouches back into his vehicle after launching his election campaign in Vancouver. Will he still be young enough to do this by the time the election is over? (Ben Nelms/Reuters)

'Three, two– go!'

Stephen Harper reminds me of the kid who sat next to the teacher's desk by choice. He'd be the kind of kid who wrote down the names of the students who spoke while the teacher was out of the room. Those kids always had beady little eyes and a self satisfied smirk. You couldn't trust them. And now sports day is here and everyone is lined up to race. Harper calls out, "Ready? Three, two– go!" and takes off like a shot before Justin or Tom have their sneakers tied. When challenged, he says, "Oh, I thought we always went on 'two.' We hadn't agreed we would go after I said 'one.' There's nothing in the rulebook about that. I was ready. You were just not ready."

Eleven weeks? It's like the Canadian government consulted a think tank and asked, "How can we make a Canadian election even more boring?"

And now the planes will fly, the buses will roll and the leaders will criss-cross the country like Trooper during the summer concert festival season. Well, except for Gilles Duceppe, he'll just stay in Quebec and ask his speech writers if it's better to go with the "it's all Canada's fault" speech or "everything is the fault of Canadians" speech.

All this campaigning is expensive. It's a good thing that the price of oil is so low that Elizabeth May just bought a Hummer.

Harper is treating this election like a stand-off. He plans to wait the others out until they run out of food and give up. He wants to crush them under the weight of the wait.

He kept saying how important it was that the parties pay for the campaign themselves. I guess all the money wasted on renting offices for 11 weeks by Elections Canada is just what Harper would call "a boon to Canada's long suffering office rental industry." Somebody better get an Economic Action! Plan sign up outside of those riding offices.

He also stated that this was "no time for risky plans or higher taxes." He later added, "by the way, did you all get your universal child care benefit cheques? Next year, we'll be using oversized publishers' clearing house style cheques and they'll be delivered personally by Pierre Polievre in a white van with balloons."

The longer they try and keep it up, the more the politicians have to worry about electile disfunction. Seventy-eight days is a long time, even politicians can't babble for that long. A 78-day campaign is long enough to force Rex Murphy to crack the spine of a dusty thesaurus to look up yet another word for "prolonged."

On day 68, I fully expect Peter Mansbridge to throw to the Power Panel and Chantal Hébert will say "I swear to God Peter, if you ask me one more time if Trudeau is connecting with voters, I'll connect my fist to your throat."

And if even the eyes of the panelists start to glaze over, what hope does the average Canadian have of staying interested? I don't think many were to begin with. I'm pretty sure that most Canadians heard about the election this way:

News junkie friend: The writs were dropped today.

Average Canadian: Oh, too bad. Want me to help you find them?

News junkie friend: No, No. The writs! There's going to be an election.

Average Canadian: But I thought we were already in an election. That guy, "what's his face" who's running, knocked on my door.

News junkie friend: That was just the pre-campaign campaigning. Harper met the Governor General today.

Average Canadian: Oh. Well, I hope the general gets the ISIS guy. You want a hot dog?

Mark Critch is a comedian and a cast member of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, which airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. (9 p.m. in Newfoundland and Labrador) on CBC Television. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCritch.

About the Author

As This Hour Has 22 Minutes' anchor and roving reporter, Mark is one of the hardest working comedians in show business, winning multiple awards for both writing and performance. In addition to 13 years starring on 22 Minutes, Mark has appeared in CBC's Winnipeg Comedy Festival, is the host of CBC’s Halifax Comedy Festival and has written for and appeared in CBC's world-renowned Just for Laughs series. His role in the highly-acclaimed feature film The Grand Seduction, garnered him the ‘Best Actor Award’ at the 2013 Atlantic Film Festival.


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