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Sunday, January 22, 2006

A brawl, not a boxing match

Here’s a scenario we’re not hearing from the big league media.
The rising Conservative popularity in Quebec manages to split the federalist vote. As a result the Bloc Quebecois take all the seats in Quebec.
Then a “Stop Harper” backlash splits the centrist vote in English Canada and large numbers of New Democrats are elected by very thin margins.
In the end, the Bloc take Quebec, while the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats take about one third of English Canada each. When all the votes are counted it turns out the Grits and Tories are tied and the NDP take one extra seat.
Think about it, it could happen.

Regardless which mainstream media outlet you read or tune into, you will hear or read the New Democratic Party referred to as “having no chance of forming a national government.” Most often, when that statement is made, the speaker offers no logical or reasonable support, other than the fact the NDP have never done it before.

There was a time when that statement was quite true. It was former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who first made it. Back in the mid 1960’s, he was asked why he was running for the Liberal Party, when his sympathies were best suited to the NDP. At the time there was no Bloc Quebecois and the NDP had no base in Quebec while both the Liberals and Conservatives had strong bases in La Belle Province.
That is not so today!

The Conservatives do not have a single seat in Quebec, and the Liberals once powerful stranglehold on that province has been reduced to a handful of seats. While the NDP have failed to grow any stronger, their opponents haven’t fared so well either. And because it is unlikely that any of the national parties will take more than a few seats in Quebec, the NDP can no longer be counted out nationally.

With most, if not all the seats in Quebec likely to go to the Bloc, whichever nationalist party forms the next government will have to do so by taking the majority of seats in the rest of Canada.

The latest polls put the Conservatives and about 36 per cent, not enough to form a majority. The Liberals are at 28 and the NDP down around 20, and those poll numbers are based on popular vote, not ridings. The real interesting stat will be the percentage of votes for each party in every different riding, and there are many ridings where the vote will be close. It is conceivable that a third party, as the NDP are so often referred to, might steal a few seats.

When its all over but the crying, the winner of Monday’s election will likely take a minority government to power. Whoever wins will have to make some sort of deal with the Bloc Quebecois, the NDP, or both. The party least likely to be able to pull off such a minority is the Conservatives. Remember now, both the Bloc and NDP are left leaning centrist parties. The Tories are hard right, their policies are not even close to those of the Bloc and NDP.

That’s all speculation at this point, especially since the majority of Canadians buy the argument that the NDP are an also-ran party, despite the change in political physics that state otherwise. And therein is the problem.
Our national media have covered this election based on outdated and outmoded political realities. They’ve played the Tories and Liberals off on one another like it was a rematch between Mohammed Ali and George Foreman. Fact is: the current federal election in Canada has more in common with a World Wrestling Federation free-for-all than it does with a boxing match. And because of this, our media has failed miserably to provide Canadians with fair and unbiased reporting through this election. They’ve done this, not on purpose, but because they’re using outdates road maps to find their way around a bit of geography that has been totally renovated and re-landscaped.

We can only hope the outcome of Monday’s election does something to wake our media from its slumber. Personally, I hope it knocks a few of them right out of their chairs. I’d get an awful good chuckle sitting down and hearing some of these “experts” say things like, “what a surprise” or “who would have thought it?”

The word I’ve heard most throughout this campaign is “change”. In my view the change has already occured. Problem is, neither our national media nor our politicians have caught up to it yet.

Maybe Monday they will.


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