elections a time for serious debate

With a federal election campaign underway, Canadians are pondering some of the burning issues of our times.

With a federal election campaign underway, Canadians are pondering some of the burning issues of our times. For instance, what the heck is an arch-centralist, and why does Stephen Harper consider it a damning insult? When is a coalition not a coalition? Why, for that matter, is coalition suddenly a dirty word, and what makes it “reckless”?

If all this rubbish puts you to sleep, give yourself a pinch. If you let yourself be hypnotized, you will quickly fall under Harper’s command, and we all know how embarrassing that can be. Under a hypnotist’s spell you can find yourself running around a public bar in your underpants kissing people of a gender inappropriate to your sexual preference, or supporting tax cuts for someone hundreds of times richer than yourself.

Elections are a time to consider important policy considerations such as, should TV producers be required to include unelected leaders of unelected parties in televised debates? Is it good or bad optics for the prime minister to be upstaged by a two-year-old child and her teddy bears? Why does Michael Ignatieff’s smile look painted on? Should socialists have to reveal their medical records in order to run for office? That’s why we don’t hear about any of that trivial stuff that occupies Parliament during a session.

Like, who cares if the country is involved in two hopeless wars? And what’s all this guff about torture and war crimes, and a government that pulls out all the stops to prevent the flow of information about what it knew about said crimes, and when? That’s all during-a-session babble, this is election time. Let’s talk about Stephen Harper’s skillful, if slightly wooden, piano playing. Let’s talk about the Liberal campaign plane being a downscaled model of the one they ordered.

And really, do Canadians want to be bothered with a discussion about electoral fraud? I mean, when we’re in the midst of an election, do you want to be constantly reminded that your tax dollars are going to pay the senatorial salaries of two Conservative bagmen who are facing criminal charges for their role in the last election? Get real. Let’s get on with discussing whether Stephen Harper keeps his hair in the fridge overnight, or if Michael Ignatieff’s family were real immigrants (who are poor, by definition) or rich emigres.

Are you worried that nuclear meltdown in Japan might contaminate your air, water, and food supply? Set that aside please, it’s election time. What Japan’s tragedy really tells us, and you can check with the prime minister on this, is that it’s not the time for political games or opposition opportunism.

We have entered upon what may be the last of the TV elections. As the Flintstones generation dies off, the internet will replace television as the preferred means of communication. But for now, TV’s golden rule applies: shell out the gold for attack ads, and you rule the opinion polls. That’s because the largest voting block in the land has grown up believing that if the TV says it’s so, Tiny Tim is hip and drinking Pepsi will give you the ability to flash a peace sign while popping a wheelie on a chopped-down Harley Davidson.

That’s not to say the internet isn’t on the political landscape, it is making an appearance, and like TV, it’s focused on the serious issues. Consider the following, from Twitter.com: “The world would be a much better place if people just kiss and make the f*** up #honestly this election is makeing me crazy.”

Thank heavens for election time. Clearly, we are all beginning to focus on the real issues. Forget the 1.4-million unemployed, the 14.4 per cent youth unemployment, the $14-billion a year tax cuts, the billion dollar police state at the G20, the $560-billion federal debt. There’s only one question Canadians are asking as we head to the polls, one issue that must be addressed if we’re to get this country back on track, and here it is.

Did Michael Ignatieff come back for you?

Al Pope won the Ma Murray Award for Best Columnist in BC/Yukon in 2010 and 2002. His novel, Bad Latitudes, is available in bookstores.