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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
Stand on a bridge before the cavern of night / Darkness alive with possibility / Nose to this wind full of twinkling lights / Trying to catch the scent of what's coming to be (in this...)
— Bruce Cockburn, World of Wonders
July 1, 2004
Canada Elections, 2004

Our federal election is now 3 days past, with Vancouver going largely Liberal except for those seats that are traditionally NDP held. There are some positives here - at least Ian Waddell didn’t win Kingsway - but generally, I had higher hopes for Stephen Harper as Prime Minister.

It’s Canada Day - the 137th birthday of our country - and Mr. Martin is giving the requisite speech in Ottawa alongside Adrienne Clarkson. I won’t call him Prime Minister Martin - make no mistake, this guy stole the job by taking over his party with a take no prisoners attitude.

Today is, I suppose, a day to be happy. I’m doing my best.

Voter turnouts for this election were at an all time low, in a country in which turnouts are already ridiculously low.

Burnaby Douglas had 61.1%; Vancouver Kingsway showed 58.9% and Vancouver South even less.

Pundits are, naturally, wondering why.

A few theories:

  1. The release of results in Ontario early makes it less likely that people will vote in the west, since they already know what the government will be.
  2. People don’t trust politicians - any of them - and don’t think their vote matters.

There are a couple of problems with the first of these theories. Firstly, voter turnout in Ontario was just as low, if not lower than it was in the west. Scarborough-Rouge River showed 51%; even Toronto-Danforth, with Jack Layton & Dennis Mills aggressively working to get their vote out, showed only 65.4%. Nova Scotia’s Kings-Hants had a 62.5% turnout with turncoat MP Scott Brison taking the seat.

So the argument doesn’t really hold water. These aren’t exactly stellar numbers from anywhere in the country, no matter what the time zone was. East Coast results, in fact, provide evidence that may point to the second answer being a real part of the solution: the turnout in Charlottetown was 66.5% for this federal election while the 2003 provincial election had a turnout of 85%, despite the fact that it was the day that Hurricane Juan struck the island. Timing certainly could have been a factor though: a summer election isn’t ideal, and many parents may have been on vacation with their children. 20% of parents though? I doubt it. 5% might have been a believable number to blame on the timing.

Further fuel in favour of the second argument; polling showed that Canadians overwhelmingly didn’t trust Paul Martin with respect to the sponsorship scandal and they still voted the guy back into office, albeit with a minority government. When people are voting for a guy they don’t trust, you can be sure that even more people didn’t vote for a guy they couldn’t trust. Of course, one of the many proposed solutions is that we implement a proportional representation system in order to create a different balance in parliament. This solution is, of course, proposed only by those parties that lose (as are fixed election dates.)

Jack Layton’s NDP & the Green Party haven’t ever actually proposed the solution that that Harper conservatives did: that restoring integrity & accountability to government might encourage people to participate.

And that’s why I supported the Conservative Party in this election.

Posted by skooter at 11:02 PM This entry is filed under Politics.

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