A run for your money
For the past three weeks the electorate has been bombarded by politicians smiling at them from those ubiquitous signs and billboards littering the landscape.
You can’t turn on a radio without being inundated with their voices hogging as much airtime as moderators will allow to spout their pious platitudes and pie in the sky promises of better days ahead, under their tender and loving care of course.
The first rule of politicians is to get elected. Their second rule is to get re-elected. They will kiss anything that moves and pave over anything that doesn’t to get your vote. They have no qualms about buying the votes of anyone green enough to be purchased with their own tax money.
As far as minority parliaments go, they may serve as an effective way to keep a prime minister and his MPs on their toes, but they can also be dysfunctional. They appear to be in a perpetual state of teetering on the brink of falling under non-confidence motions. Their short lifespan has cost taxpayers at least four expensive trips to the polls in the last seven years.
For that reason, whichever party forms the next government, having a majority, even a slim one would be a refreshing change.
According to the polls, it looks like Stephen Harper could be coming precariously close to that elusive majority he has lusted after for so long.
Of course his Liberal and NDP opponents, Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton respectively would also like you to believe they are winners, despite the polls. Neither can be faulted for their unbridled optimism.
Like any good horse race, the most interesting ridings to watch on election night are going to be those where the politicians go neck and neck all the way to the finish line.
From what we hear, our own riding of Avalon could be in for just one of those nail-biting races.
Conservative Fabian Manning quit a cushy Senate seat to challenge incumbent Liberal Scott Andrews to a re-match. To forfeit such a plum post, Manning must have had some confidence he could re-take his old seat.
Mr. Manning is a nice young man. Mr. Andrews is a nice younger man. He has taken in as many bean suppers, barbecues and baby showers as possible for a young rookie MP still not dry behind his political ears.
But when it came to federal funding announcements it was Manning that Prime Minister Harper continued to send to the province and riding to hand out the loot bags - almost acting as unofficial MP. Perhaps some people could be forgiven for being confused over who was actually their member.
Besides his good looks, Andrews has nothing to thank for his first victory at the polls except Danny Williams’ ABC campaign.
The Anything But Conservative scheme was a smashing success for the former premier. But besides depriving the province of a single seat on the government side of the House of Commons or at the federal cabinet table, what did it really prove in the end? All it proved was that the Newfoundland and Labrador electorate could still be mesmerized by a demagogue into his way of thinking and vote accordingly. Where those of you who let somebody else do their thinking for them in the last federal election any more enlightened than their ancestors who kept another demagogue in power for 23 years convinced the baby bonus came straight from his arse pocket?
The absence of counterproductive ABC campaigns this time around has completely changed the water on the beans.
If the races are as close as some people suggest, we could end up with at least two seats (Avalon and St. John’s South-Mount Pearl) on the government side of the Commons.
But in the absence of a crystal ball, until all the votes are counted, your prediction of the outcome is as good as ours.
Bill Bowman, editor The Compass