Sunday, January 15, 2006

Canada's Election: The HMCS Liberal meets its Iceberg

The election campaign in Canada has gotten very interesting over the past few weeks. The Liberal party, which has been in power for the past twelve years, seems to be on the verge of defeat. Since I last wrote about the Canadian election, the Conservative party has surged ahead in pre-election opinion polls and has is now a solid 10 percentage points ahead of the Liberals, which could easily translate into a majority government if the lead is kept up.

A Conservative victory would likely herald a new renaissance in US/Canadian relations. Many elements in the Conservative election platform seem like something borrowed from the US Republican Party, and include:
  • Pulling Canada out of the Kyoto agreement (for basically the same reasons Bush pulled America out a few years back).
  • Tightening Canada's border security.
  • Getting tough on crime, especially crime involving drugs and weapons.
  • Increased defense spending.

Meanwhile, the Liberal party's campaign has devolved into what one newspaper called a "train wreck", with scandals continuing to crop up at each corner. Just this past Friday saw one Liberal candidate accused in a sworn affidavit of offering a government job to an opponent in exchange for throwing the election; another involved in a land-flip scandal; and a third posting a bogus "endorsement" in a local newspaper.

A week ago, in a desperate attempt to stop the hemorrhaging of their support, the Liberal party rolled out a series of attack ads, trying to play on voters' fears. Each of these ads had ominous music in the background, focused on an unflattering image of Stephen Harper, and had a female voice reading a blurb of text that was repeated in writing under Harper's face. By far the most disgraceful Liberal attack ad was this one:

Stephen Harper actually announced he wants to increase military presence in our cities. Canadian cities. Soldiers with guns. In our cities. In Canada. We did not make this up. Choose your Canada.

As someone who grew up in a military family, I find this ad absolutely despicable. It is as if the Liberals are insinuating that having soldiers stationed in cities would be setting up Canada for some sort of coup d'etat.

I'm obviously not the only one who feels that way. Liberal MP Keith Martin called this ad "appalling" and blamed it on "some idiot". The Liberals pulled this abomination of an ad a few hours after it was released, but it is still available to be viewed here.

Paul Martin, the current prime minister and Liberal leader at first stood behind the ad, but later discounted it and said, "All political parties have ads which they don't play. That's one that was not played.''

Even if they had never played it on television, I am appalled that someone would even think to create that ad, since it shows the thought behind it was there.

A few more of the Liberal attack ads put out last week stink of scaremongering and blatant anti-Americanism:

Who paid for Stephen Harper's rise to the head of the party? We don't know. He refuses to reveal his donors. What do you suppose he's hiding? We do know he's very popular with right wingers in the U.S. They have money, maybe they helped him. We just don't know. He just won't say.

Nothing like a good conspiracy theory to brighten our day.....

Of course, that Liberal attack ad pales when compared to this one:

From the Washington Times, December 2, 2005: "Canada may elect the most pro-American leader in the western world. Harper is pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto, and socially conservative. Bush's new best friend is the poster boy for his ideal foreign leader. A Harper victory will put a smile on George W. Bush's face."

Well, at least someone will be happy, eh? Choose your Canada.

As a Canadian living in the US, seeing this kind of blatant anti-Americanism in political ads really disgusts me. Of course, it's a bittersweet sensation, since I can feel more content in my choice to vote for the Conservatives, and can be happy that the Conservatives seem to be enjoying a groundswell of support in Canada.

Like the Titanic 95 years ago, the Liberal party in Canada seemed unsinkable a few years ago, but with the recent string of scandals, it seems they have finally met their iceberg.

Update: January 16

Yet another example of the Liberal party's desperation today: trying to make the Conservatives pull an ad they had released to defend themselves against the Liberal attack ads. Reason: copyright infringement. Copyright infringement?! I laughed for about 5 minutes when I read this.

Update 2: January 16

This is really disgusting. For the past several weeks, the student union at the University of Toronto had been working with Elections Canada to setup special polling stations to allow students to vote on campus for candidates in their home ridings. Now this morning, just one week before the election, Elections Canada abruptly cancelled them.

After a bit of digging, the student union found out the polls were cancelled by Elections Canada after they were strongarmed by Liberal party lawyers acting at the behest of Liberal candidate Tony Ianno. And so, with one despicable act, the Liberals have denied 40,000 young people the right to vote in their first federal election.

The U of T student newspaper wrote a story on this earlier today, and the blog Angry in the Great White North has picked this story up also. About an hour ago, the Globe and Mail (Canada's largest newspaper) published it, and by tomorrow morning, I would not be surprised to see it on the cover of at least a few newspapers.

I personally think this action will cost the liberals dearly. Let's face it, with all the other scandals, the last thing the Liberals need right now, especially in Toronto, is a newspaper headline about Liberal lawyers denying 40,000 young people the right to vote.