May 2011 a small percentage of Canadians elected Stephen Harper's Conservative Party of Canada to a majority government. Blue swept the west and staked new claims in Ontario, routing Liberal strongholds, while the NDP swept forth from Quebec, turning the baby blues to orange.
As we handed Stephen Harper the keys to the Canadian kingdom I had to ask myself, how did this happen? I've spoken to a number of Conservative voters I know and in almost all situations ignorance was key. Voter apathy is so virile in Canada that either citizens simply don't vote, or they vote based on hunches. Most that I spoke to that voted for the Conservatives, voted for Harper because he seemed inoffensive, or worse, voted against Ignatieff or Layton because they "didn't like them", and Harper was the safe choice. When asked what was wrong with Iggy, my friends and family had no words for it. He was simply not for them. If you ask me, that is the result of absorbing years of attack ads. Character assassination is a wonderful tool in politics because it leaves people distrusting someone on unfounded claims years after they first witnessed it, when they can no longer remember what it even was. And Stephen Harper himself has been the King of Character assassination.
The other straw leg that propped up the blue wave was the Economy. Yes, Canada has weathered the global recession decently, but we also went into it with a fiscal surplus thanks to the Liberal party. Let's not forget the collective opposition parties had to also threaten to topple the Conservative government and form their own just to get economic action to prevent the recession taking root here. Of course, I'm generous when I say they threatened it. In fact, the opposition parties were thwarted from enacting it only by a backdoor maneuver by Harper to disable the Parliament of Canada for an entire session to save his job. But don't worry, he set a dangerous precedent of favouring hanging onto power over respecting the elected representatives of Canadian citizens for us. After all, the Coalition was bad. Losers shouldn't win, and a collection of losers, never should. Even if they represent the majority of Canadian voters. Mr. Harper has continually shown not only a blatant disregard for the design of our democracy, but also a caustic willingness to degrade public understanding and faith in it and to sidestep its controls at every chance.
But hey kids he's the new boss. Don't worry, first up will be to get rid of those disgusting public handouts to political parties for election funding. You know, that $1.70 that the Green party gets for every vote they receive, so that they can continue to be a viable representation in our political scheme for those that share their views.. in example, those who voted for them. I can't imagine they are flush with cash from corporate sponsors like the Oil Fields-loving and Corporate Tax-cutting Conservatives that want to take away that lifeline, but I guess that just means they are taking up valuable oxygen and need to have life support cut off. In a nation that is so apathetic towards voting, among other reasons because they feel their votes don't matter, we will strangle off fringe parties and further diminish the power of a vote. That's not just smart that's S-Mart, as in Stephen smart.
The final reason I heard for voting blue almost made me throw up in my mouth: election fatigue. Apparently the unfair toll taken on some Canadians by requesting that they represent themselves at a voting station for 10 minutes every 8 months to a year is just intolerable. And how dare we! Better to hand control over to someone, anyone, and not have to worry about it for 4 years. I mean, how much damage could they do? Canada has got to be one of the easiest and safest places to vote, all you need is 10 minutes and a name in mind to mark. But lo there be'est the quandary. Election fatigue isn't the problem, the problem is citizens that are tired of being bothered to think about choosing a government, they are tired of deciding between leaders, and tired of trying to understand where they themselves even stand on the issues. Often I hear people complain that they don't even know the party platforms, where the platforms are generally stable year after year on the main issues, and I think they are just upset no one has told them what the current issues ought to be, because they surely don't know. Let's face it, if you voted for a majority on that basis alone, then you voted for a babysitter to take care of everything for you while you worried about your Me Time. It was selfish and spits in the face of representative democracy.
What's done is done, and over the next four years we get to start blogging all the things we need our next government to undo. But every staple of our current parliamentary democracy that Harper tears down, will invariably stay down. After all, this election has proven that Canadians do not care about them. As long as you can don a cardigan, fake smile at your kids, and say "the good ship Canada is O K", while burning Robert's Rules of Order behind your back, well, we'll give you a bloody promotion.