Friday, January 13, 2006

Political debates, Kim Campbell, hockey trading deadlines and why I'm voting Green.

Every decent hockey fan knows about the NHL trading deadline -- that magic date after which, for better or worse, you're stuck with what you've got. You wheel and deal right up to the last minute, trying to get the best lineup you can but, once that deadline goes by, you go with the results.

I thought about this shortly after PM Paul Martin dropped the bombshell of the "notwithstanding clause" in the second English language debate, a bombshell that didn't go over particularly well, even among MPs in Martin's own party.

Martin's eye-opener reminded me of Kim Campbell's famous gaffe when she suggested that an election is "no time to discuss serious issues." I think Campbell had it half right. An election is, of course, the time to discuss serious issues, but it should not be the time to introduce serious issues.

For Martin to have unloaded the notwithstanding clause issue without warning in that debate was simply incomprehensible and, in my opinion, none of the other leaders had any obligation to respond to it. Certainly not Stephen Harper, who should have simply stroked his chin and said something like, "What an interesting idea. I'll give that some thought. After I'm the new Prime Minister."

I think there should be a "new issue deadline" when it comes to federal elections in Canada. I figure the first two weeks of the campaign is more than enough time to publish your entire platform, at which point the rest of the campaign should be spent defending your platform and attacking everyone else's. Once the deadline passes, no one would be allowed to introduce new topics.

This deadline could easily be enforced during the televised debates, with any transgressor being escorted from his podium to a new issue "penalty box" for two, perhaps five minutes, while the rest of the debaters continued on without him. A major transgression would, naturally, result in ejection.

It's become thoroughly irritating to hear the party leaders promise that they'll release a few more details of their platform as time goes by. Fuck that. I want to hear all the details early enough that I can mull over them. I don't want to get them in dribs and drabs, with little surprises every so often.

That's the sort of thing that strikes me as sleazy, political hackery and it's what finalized my decision not to vote for Martin. Anyone who pulls a surprise like the "notwithstanding clause" surprise out of his ass this far into the campaign is just a hack and confirms for me that Martin is not fit to govern.

I'm tired of having folks tell me that I have to vote Liberal simply because they're not quite as unspeakably corrupt or as evil as the CPC. There's a limit to that kind of argument, and I've just reached it.

And that's why I'm voting Green.

Well, how about that?
Apparently, I'm not the only one who has real problems with timing when it comes to election campaigns:

When Liberal Leader Paul Martin unveiled $180-million in funding for research and development yesterday, Howard Burton, one of the recipients of the latest campaign goodies, boycotted the event.

Mr. Burton, who heads a research institute in Waterloo, Ont., fired off a missive instead, criticizing the announcement as a "desperate attempt" by Mr. Martin to rescue his "quasi-moribund" campaign...

What bothered him, [Burton] said in an interview, is that the funding pledge came on Day 45 of the campaign, when all the polls point to falling support for the Liberals. Instead of appearing as part of the Liberals' long-term strategy for research and innovation, it was reduced to a mere political event and could even jeopardize the institute's chances of attracting future government funds, he said.

Yes, I believe we could extend my deadline rules to prevent any candidates from not only raising new issues, but making new pork-barrel promises.

Yeah. That'll happen.


PR said...

Good post. I'm suprised that Martin's NWS pledge has gone over as badly as it has.

Anonymous said...

This post made it onto CBC news (TV version) today, on the "blogwatch" segment. You have reached a national audience.