Shakespeare once wrote: “We defy augury. There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.” For the past two months the federal election has dragged on and we are no further ahead in knowing the likely result than we were in August. The polls have been mixed from one week to the next on which of the three major parties is leading the pack.
Last week it was the Liberals gaining steam after two surprisingly strong debates by Justin Trudeau on economic and domestic issues. This week the Conservatives seem to be gaining ground by playing the wedge politics they have proved so adept at in the past over issues like the niqab for women and the citizenship status of convicted terrorists. Poor Elizabeth May has been relegated to tweeting her responses to the leaders of the other parties as she has not been invited to most of the debates. And not a whisper of protest from any of the leaders as to why this is so.
The NDP, Liberals and Conservatives are definitely playing for keeps; eager not to mis-step, eager to avoid values debates, eager to defrock any candidates who might bring a whiff of scandal to the election.
This has perhaps been the most cynical and hypocritical election in Canadian history.
Thomas Mulcair talks like a fiscal conservative and walks oh-so-softly like a leopard on the left stalking up on the Canadian people. A leopard does not change its spots. An NDP leader is still an NDP leader with all the freight of socialist values that brings. Hiding those values adds to the sense of hypocrisy.
The Harper Conservatives too have been playing it safe this election, steering clear of conversations about gay marriage and abortion; trying, unsuccessfully, to cast themselves as good stewards of the environment when their record on this issue rings so hollow it makes church bell sound like tin whistle. Many Conservative candidates are faith based candidates, but have we seen even one step up and say what they really feel to a non-partisan crowd? Not one jot. Again we see massive hypocrisy.
The Liberals found themselves painted into a corner two weeks ago by Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe during the French debate and again by Harper in the Munk global affairs debate last Monday on the sensitive issue of the niqab and the citizenship for terrorists. Trudeau’s lacklustre response can be chalked up to just one thing: It’s not these issues he wants to talk about despite holding liberal values which find Harper’s stance on both abhorrent. He knows many in the Canadian public feel closer to the Conservative position on these issues. He does not want to be drawn into them so he does not comes off well. If he stood up firmly and strongly and said what he truly believed his passion would likely win some points with the public if not as many votes. Hypocrisy again.
The reason why the polls show this election is grid-locked is because all three of the major party leaders have been hiding their true beliefs from the electorate. People do not know where any of the party’s stand. It’s cynical politics at its worst to try to win votes, nothing more. And we have three campaign strategies that have all the creativity and imagination of a paint by numbers sketch.
Sparrows may fall in time or not all, but with two weeks left in this endless, empty and vacuous campaign there isn’t much to separate one party from another in terms of merit.