Canadian politics sure are wacky.
Get a load of this delicious factoid: the Prime Minister can call an election any time he or she wishes during their term, to a maximum of five years after they are elected. That's right, Billy. The Prime Minister of Canada can call an election two weeks into his/her term, or, if they so wish, make the public wait an excruciating five years.
But it gets better. It appears Canadian politicians have convinced their public the best traits in a PM are machismo, virility and derring-do. Perhaps it's only because it's an Olympic year, but one Stockwell Day's sea-dooing ability is causing Canadians from coast-to-coast to salivate like a dog staring at a dead squirrel.
So combine these unfortunate facts and what do you get? A ridiculously drawn-out election buildup--a newspaper baron's wet dream--and an increasingly confused and manipulated public.
The current Canadian electoral system, in all its ridiculous glory, is as follows. The PM is elected by the few thousand Canadians who understand their democratic duty. It's then up to said PM to monitor the popularity of his/her party and call an election as soon as it appears their popularity is peaking. No one else in Canada can force an election--not the PM's party, not the official opposition, not the Governor General, not even the Queen.
Surely, this system is unfair and more than just a little stupid. The advantage always lies with the party in power. How democratic is it if the PM can pick the most opportune time to hold an election, rather than if it were pre-arranged? Wouldn't this mean that the opposition would have to spend time and resources "staying on its toes" all the time, while the governing party can coast from year to year, only to throw one hell of a campaign together when they decide they're up for a challenge?
In the United States of America, elections are scheduled on approximately the same day every four years, so the voting public--all 25 of them--knows well in advance when they're going to the polls. In Canada, the PM plays a perverted mind-game with the public, head-faking and baby-kissing while keeping the public and salivating media in a fog. It's like a high-stakes game of poker, except the PM can see his opposition's cards by way of opinion polls. They're holding a full-house, the PM folds. The opposition's got a pair of twos--the PM strikes, the papers squeal, "Election!" and the democratic process spins in its grave.
Feeling out the public, waiting for the most advantageous moment--that's what all these perverse pre-election stunts are about. You know; Stockwell Day macking the voting public from a sea-doo, Jean Chrétien flirting with the media from a white-water raft (or our guess, a carefully crafted photo-op featuring a dinghy in a hot-tub).
So many questions, so little editorial space. Why do we continue to schedule our federal elections on the manipulative whims of the PM? What disservice is this practice doing to democratically-inclined Canadians?
When will Canadians rise up and smash this oppressive practice? And for crying out loud, when's the next federal election, already?