OUT ON A LIMB: Politics too predictable to be a good spectator sport

My excitement about elections diminishes as the years go by

My excitement about elections diminishes as the years go by.

Gone are the days in university, while studying communications and political science, when we’d settle in with some refreshments after the polls closed at 8 p.m., and watch the results roll in. It was like watching a hockey game. Not that we’d cheer necessarily but we’d yack about politics both near and far and straighten the world out for everybody, if only there had been somebody there to hear our sage advice.

There was never a real surprise ending. Either the Liberals or the Conservatives (“Progressive” Conservatives back then) would form the government. The NDP would come in significantly third and the Green Party barely even existed then. It was a true three-party state.

Nowadays, I have to keep reminding myself there’s an election on. It’s the same old suspects but, at least this time there is a possibility for something different to happen, i.e., the NDP has surged past the Liberals in polls, if they’re anything to go by. An NDP opposition would be something different but I don’t know if it would change anything about the way Canadians are governed, especially if the Conservatives win.

The NDP has always had an impact on Canadian politics because the Liberals would scoop up any of their polices they found useful and incorporate them into their platform.

I find it interesting that the Liberals are unable to gain any traction with Michael Ignatieff as leader. It really seems as though he’s a liability. Nobody seems to really believe he’s sincere.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, have the control-freak Stephen Harper who has been accused of setting back the democratic traditions in this country.

Then there’s the NDP’s Jack Layton who is inhabiting familiar ground in Canadian politics. Back in the 80s the NDP’s Ed Broadbent continually scored highest of all the three party leaders in approval ratings. But the NDP never got past third party status. Now Layton is scoring the higher approval ratings and his party is soaring in popularity polls.

That however, doesn’t necessarily translate into seats in the House of Commons as our first-past-the-post electoral system blocks popular vote from determining electoral seats.

But if the NDP were to form the opposition or, less likely, form a minority government with the Liberals (as the junior partner – a switch from the past), that would be different but given our system’s focus on the party with the most seats, you won’t likely see any real change this election. And maybe that’s what Canadians want. Our predictability and stability serve us well economically but it doesn’t make for compelling television.

So, on Monday, cast your vote and I will cast mine. I always do. But I won’t be hooked on the T.V. scrutinizing every result as it comes in because it will just be more of the same old, same old.

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