Well, here we are, the last week of Canada's longest running — seemingly — reality show: Election 2015. The autumn air is tinged with the battling aromas of hope and desperation.
The stench of desperation is coming largely from the Conservative camp. Frustrated by the failure of "Just Not Ready" Trudeau to implode in quite the way the Conservative strategists assured everyone he would, we have witnessed a Canadian Prime Minister scraping the bottom of the integrity barrel. How else to explain Mr. Harper donning the white hood of bigotry and intolerance and pitting a province and attempting to pit a nation against the invading armies of niqab-wearing Muslim women?
It wasn't enough for him to latch on to this insignificant symbol of, admittedly, bizarre religious/social custom, not enough for him to whip up hatred for — what was it — two women who wished to swear the oath of citizenship while dressed in what some consider a Halloween costume but far too many in Quebec consider a threat, not enough to keep poking a sharp stick at the issue after a court ruled one of the women had sufficiently met the test of identification to be allowed to take the oath, which she proudly did. When you're desperate to cling to power nothing is enough. But this has been enough to drive even Conrad Black to express his disgust with Mr. Harper — and drop tantalizing hints he just may endorse Mr. Trudeau — in his National Post column.
And so now we witness the spectacle of Mr. Harper throwing a Hail Mary pass, a bigotry bomb, promising to adopt a Canada-wide equivalent of the odious Charter of Values, through which the Québécois pure laine seek to protect themselves against immigrants' strange customs and intimidating religious symbols — crucifixes notwithstanding.
Mr. Harper wants to extend that prohibition, at least as far as niqab wearers, to the federal civil service and anyone who desires to utilize the services they provide. Oh hell man, let's just burn some crosses, hang a few veiled women from a tall tree and get on with it!
Does he truly believe in this level of blind hatred or is this just an unprincipled act of political opportunism? Does it matter? Is it reflective of the kind of country you like to consider Canada is... should be? Is this the kind of person you strive to be?
When I hear people say the number one issue in this election is the economy — as Mr. Harper does at every opportunity — I wonder what world they live in. It's the same sense of wonder and disbelief I experience whenever I hear one of the Conservative ads touting their balanced budget. What balanced budget? They've never balanced a budget that didn't owe its good fortunes to those who ran legitimate surpluses before them and if you believe this year's will be balanced I know a Nigerian prince who can make you wealthy.
This election is about who we are, who we're becoming, who we want to be and how we want to present this country to the rest of the world. Personally, I'm going with hope. I hope we have a different prime minister when this election is over. I hope that person sets a tone of inclusion, not hatred and tries to bring this country together instead of setting us at each other's throats. I hope that person understands a country doesn't achieve greatness through parsimony but through actions that benefit all of its citizens. I hope that person understands real economic policy isn't based on dogma and ideology, that smaller government isn't necessarily better government — better government is better government regardless of size.
Before I write the next paragraph I'd like to remind those readers who have been berating my editor and publisher the past few weeks that I am not a journalist. I don't write "objective" news or analysis. I'm a columnist and what I write is my opinion and only my opinion. You have yours and I have mine and, yes, I know which part of the anatomy opinions are like, thank you. Make up your own mind.
I have. And I've decided to support Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, the Liberal candidate in our riding. I'll vote for Pam for one reason: she has the best chance to beat John Weston. Period.
If Larry Koopman had the best chance, I'd vote for him. If Ken Melamed had the best chance, I'd vote for him.
That's another thing that makes this election unique. There has never been an election where so many have voted, or say they are voting, for whomever can defeat a sitting government, regardless of party affiliation, regardless of which party has a platform more aligned with their beliefs.
And because of that, don't take what I'm about to say next personally. Larry, Ken, it's time to do the right thing, the noble thing, the higher calling moral thing. Quit! Release your supporters and urge them to vote Liberal.
I know you won't, but I know you should. So do you.
Larry, your party's leader has said the "No.1 job" is to get the Conservatives out of office. "The country that I love is in really serious danger if we give this guy another four years," he told the Globe and Mail late last week. He also said he'll, "...work with other federalist parties through informal or appropriate stable arrangements to end Stephen Harper's lost decade."
What he couldn't bring himself to say was he'd urge NDP candidates who are trailing their Liberal opponent by a wide margin to abandon the race to achieve that goal.
Larry, even the fastest horse isn't going to close the gap between you and Pam... or you and John for that matter. Pam and John are polling numbers whose difference is well within the margin of error. You can put her over the top and send one less Tory to Ottawa. Do it.
Ken, it's been a good effort. If you were the front runner I'd vote Green and feel better for it. But you're polling as far behind Larry as he is Pam. Sometimes reality sucks. This is one of those times. You've got one shot at coming out of this race with dignity and respect, especially in the eyes of those who have historically voted Green but just can't do it this time because they too are driven by the desire to send one less Tory to Ottawa. Nothing personal here other than the very personal desire to retire Mr. Harper, a desire I know you share.
That's my two cents worth... which, since we did away with pennies rounds down to zero. Make up your own minds, vote our own conscience and hopefully you'll decide to send one less Tory to Ottawa.