Wednesday, 15 October 2008

That's a lot of Money to spend on Nothing!

What a colossal waste of my money, my time and my attention!  The Conservative Party of Canada has been returned to power, albeit with a slightly larger minority, (with little or no help from urbanites-gains came mainly from the outlying regions!) and I am sitting here this morning trying to ascertain the purpose of the past 37 days.  Mr. Harper is still the Prime Minister. His band of neo-con merry men has been re-upped almost intact. As far as I can see, our troops are still soldiering on in Afghanistan with no relief until at least 2011.  The economy is tanking (especially here in Ontario) yet our PM is still living in his Alberta bubble. We Canadians have just endured our 3rd federal election since 2004 and nothing has fundamentally changed.  

I thought that you all might be interested in a few statistics here the morning after.  According to Global TV, untold millions have been spent on this fiasco.  While the final tallies won't be known for a few months, the 2004 numbers are staggering.  
Elections Canada spent $277.8 million on the 2004 general election. The agency bore the cost of the electoral process, pre-election activity, and re-imbursements to parties and candidates.

This time around, Stephen Harper's election call cancelled four by-elections which were set for September. According to Elections Canada, a federal by-election costs an average of 892,000 per riding. That means taxpayers will pay $3.5 million for the cancelled by-elections, since spending tallies are restarted once a general election is called.

In 2006, each major party had a spending limit of $18.3 million dollars, while individual candidates averaged about $80,000. This is without all of the "under the table" spending on advertising that seems to occur long before the actual election is called. (Mr. Harper calling Mr. Dion all sorts of ugliness just so that Canadians could see how good he looks in a sweater vest!)

Now I realize that these numbers pale beside the almost $1 billion dollars that my American friends will be tossing down the toilet to elect their next leader, but remember we are a tenth of the size and our election campaigns run for a month instead of two years!!  I am just having a bit of trouble spending all of this money on a pissing contest that basically solved nothing!!  Mr. Harper told Canadians that the minority government had become unworkable, and last night he told Canadians that he is ready to work with his new mandated minority!  HUH???  

I believe that Harper made several tactical errors that will eventually come back to bite him in the ass.  

Firstly, he ran this election against Mr. Dion and not on his own Conservative record. (Maybe because he doesn't really have a record to speak of!)  This would have been politically smart had he won the majority, but now, he will most certainly be facing a new Liberal leader within the next 6 months as the left of centrists correct their catastrophic leadership mistake.  The "Red" party will not make the same error in judgement again and Mr Harper can expect a much rougher ride the next time.

Secondly, Mr. Harper was so sure of his majority that he forgot to run on any platform until the final week of the campaign.  In Quebec, this strategy proved to be a disaster as his candidates had nothing with which to fight.  His public musings about arts cuts and changes to the Young Offenders Act played like a lead balloon in culturally sensitive Quebec and cost him his precious majority.  

Thirdly, the economy is not all hearts and flowers.  If Harper cannot find some answers to the job losses across the country that don't involve more tax cuts, this minority may not last more than a year to 18 months and we could well see ourselves at the polls yet again, spending millions more!

I am not surprised by the outcome of yesterday's election, but I am somewhat disgusted.  It seems to me that my elected representatives should take better care with my money, before spreading it around on wasteful contests to determine "whose is bigger"!! Frankly, I could not care less.

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