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How to Handle a Conservative Majority, Part One

07/11/2011

The results of the Canadian federal election in May pleased some–seniors, for instance–but disappointed others–such as “modernists, women, young people, immigrants [and] people fond of evidence-based policy“.

Like many Canadians, I experienced a mix of strong emotions as I watched the map turn blue on TV. For that reason, I decided to wait a few weeks before posting about my perspective. Because of how busy I became with my novel soon after, a few weeks turned into a couple months.

But in the week following the election I recorded my thoughts, laying the groundwork for a three-part series. This is the first post in that series. It deals with the behaviour of Stephen Harper and his Conservatives before and during the election.

In January, months before an election was declared, the Conservatives launched an ad campaign that was criticized for attacking opponents’ personalities more than their policies. The ads cast NDP leader Jack Layton as recklessly ambitious, and suggested then-leader of the Liberals Michael Ignatieff was conspiring with then-Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe to break up Canada.

Image credit: Remy Steinegger

During his campaign Harper allowed journalists only five questions a day. His opponents imposed no such limits.

In the weeks preceding the elections, Liberal supporters reported receiving calls at inappropriate times from people pretending to be campaigners for the Liberal party. The calls originated from a call centre in Dakota. Then-Liberal MP described it as “a classic case of voter suppression.” The Conservative party denied responsibility.

Days before the election, voters began receiving false information about where they were supposed to vote. Some were directed to voting stations up to an hour away from their homes.

On election day, in violation of Elections Canada regulations, Stephen Harper urged listeners of The Bill Good Show to “vote Conservative”. Elections Canada does not allow campaigning on election day.

Click here for Part Two

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 07/14/2011 7:20 PM

    The actions of the CPC during and even before the elections were disheartening to say the least. What is even more disheartening is the inaction of the opposition parties and the apathy of the Canadian voters. If those “modernists, women, young people, immigrants [and] people fond of evidence-based policy“ were to mobilize and actually take part in the political process, which polls show us they are increasingly NOT doing, then perhaps we would see more positivism in the Canadian political process.

    Don’t hate the player, don’t hate the game, hate the increasing number of Canadian voters that could care less about voting or inspiring positive change in this country.

  2. 07/15/2011 12:50 PM

    You’re right, the reason they’re able to abuse the system like they do is because of apathy on behalf of the public. Like you said, the voter turnout should have been a lot greater than it was. And the outcry about the abuses should be much louder.

    That said, I think the success online activists have been having these past few years in rallying the public around particular causes gives reason for hope. They were able to neuter the restrictive copyright legislation the Conservatives tried to pass a few years back, and they seem to have done pretty well so far in stalling Internet metering. Of course, these efforts don’t come close to addressing all Harper’s abuses, but it does show that Canadians can effect change if they care enough about something.

    The hard part is getting the information out there and making it accessible/moving –i.e. making people care.

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