There are many important differences between Canadians and Americans. One of my favourites used to be that Canadian elections are short and sweet. For most of my life they’ve been between five and six weeks. They’ve been triggered by a visit to the governor general making the date difficult to predict in advance. Unlike our neighbours to the south who are almost always in some stage of the election cycle — at this point in time it is difficult to say when one election ends and another begins — we didn’t have to deal with endless election adds and pre-official campaign students.
Amongst the various shitty things that Harper has done — I use that particular term because I am hoping that Shit Harper Did comes back to life any day now — is to ruin our election cycles and funding rules. He plans to launch one of the longest and most expensive elections in Canadian history over the long weekend. The new rules make it easy for the conservatives to spend lots more money half of which tax payers have to pay for. It also means that we will now be subjected to the horrors of an incredibly long campaign. Six weeks is enough time for people to stay engaged and for things to unfold. Longer is uncalled for.
The bright side is that the second the campaign is launched there will be no more government paid for defacto campaign ads. Since the date is set everyone’s been doing a version of campaigning lite for months. It’s not like we haven’t been seeing really lame ads about Trudeau and his hair in which the Conservatives act like they have the ability to balance a budget for months. It’ll just be official.
And the first of many, many debates will happen next Thursday. I remember the good old days when we had one debate. (I realize that there were technically two for people who like to do math/aren’t Canadians and can’t see the logic in this but they were in different languages and were in my mind the same debate held on different days. I had this argument with an editor in the states who eventually won by saying but that one plus one is two after being unconvinced by me being like by they’re one debate there’s just one in French and one in English.) I can’t even keep track of all the debates. It will be exciting to see Harper give out his canned answers that don’t necessarily relate to the questions, to see if Trudeau can find himself and become a leader with a vision and plan to sell Canada, and to see Mulcair use that smile he’s honed at various NDP events.
I’m a believer that campaigns matter. They matter a lot. I’m from Alberta after all where the last two provincial elections have left anyone who wasn’t paying close attention dumbfounded. Buckle up. It’s going to be a long and painful election campaign.