I am not Canadian and the result of the Canadian election does impact my life directly unless a re-elected Harper government goes ape-shit and starts nuking other Anglophone countries, but I have had the misfortune of following the election somewhat closely. The reason that I think the Canadian election campaign has been annoying is that it feels like the British General Elections of 2010 and 2015 combined, both of which were frustratingly unpredictable. All I can say is hopefully Harper will lose.
The media pundits say that Trudeau is most likely to form a government but in truth the polls are too close to call. The most recent polls show the Liberals with a lead of between 1-8% which from the outside would seem that they would be most likely to form a government but, much like in Britain, the electoral system often doesn’t translate the vote proportion into seats in the House of Commons. For example in the 2011 election Harper’s party won 166 seats (53.9%) with 39.6% so nation-wide opinion polling, as was the case in the May 2015 British General Election, doesn’t really matter.
Predictions cannot really be made about the election as the result is dependent on a handful of bellwethers and a handful of voters as a result of Canada’s broken electoral system which Britain is unfortunate enough to share. But this isn’t the main reason why I’ve found the election campaign unbearable. What nobody outside of Canada is talking about is that the entire 78-day campaign was based on a political calculation that should never be able to be made; Harper deliberately made the campaign too long in an attempt to deploy a much larger war chest to tar and feather Trudeau and Mulcair. The Conservative campaign has been plagued by ad hominem attacks, bigotry and poor attempts as Machiavellian messaging which hopefully result in their removal from power.
By far the worst aspect of the campaign has been Harper’s thinly veiled (pun intended) bigoted criticism of people who wear the niqab thus bringing it into the campaign as a political issue. By pledging to ban the niqab from being warn by public servants Harper, who has majority support from the Canadian people on the issue, tried to whip up people to support his campaign by appealing to the worst in people. Obviously Muslims aren’t a race so it isn’t racist as some other people have said, but it is definitely a terrible attempt at divide and conquer that appears not to have worked.
This prejudice was also seen earlier in the campaign when Larry Miller, the MP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, said that Muslim women who do not remove their niqabs whilst taking the citizenship oath should “stay the hell where [they] came from”. Harper’s attack on some Muslims was an attempt to rally the Canadian Right behind his campaign, which, even if done successfully, alienated many of the centrist voters he was also trying to appeal to.
There are also a number of other aspects of the Conservative campaign which people outside of Canada may not have been aware of. For example the Conservative candidate for Mississauga-Malton Jagdish Grewal, who I believe remains on the ballot as an independent, defended gay-conversion therapy in an editorial in the Punjabi Post entitled “Is it wrong for a homosexual to become a normal person?”.
Another candidate, who also has since been dropped from the party, was the former Conservative candidate for Bonavista-Burin-Trinity Blair Dale who made racist and sexist comments online including that abortion shouldn’t be an option for “irresponsible people”. Although people like Grewal and Dale were swiftly removed from the party, what does it say about the party that such people were allowed to become candidates for the House of Commons?
Although I would prefer it if, out of the top three parties, the NDP won, at this point in time I would welcome any result that involves Stephen Harper no longer being Prime Minister. This entire election has been a result of a political calculation which on day one should have shown why elections should be publicly funded as the disparity between the resources of the Conservatives and the other two main parties was vast. Although there as been some important debates over many crucial issues such as the economy and the environment, the negativity of the Conservative campaign has been thoroughly depressing and I’m over 3,000 miles away from Ottawa (I cannot fathom how annoying it would have been if I was actually in Canada).