It's a toss-up I think whether Canadians will face another Federal Election sometime in the fall. Unfortunately that's the territory created by a minority status government in a Parliament composed of four Political Parties. And, it happens irrespective of Federal legislation establishing fixed electoral dates every four years. That Legislation was ignored in 2008 by the ruling Party which promoted it. There are no valid reasons to believe it will be any different the next time.
Three months ago when the House of Commons adjourned there were high expectations that from a political perspective it would be a relatively quiet break from the routine drudgery of a Parliamentary session. Basking in the afterglow of the two Ontario Summits in June and the Queen's Canada Day tour of several provinces, the Prime Minister was to take the summer off with family at the Harrington Lake compound while the Liberal Leader, Michael Ignatieff, rode the country's back roads for a third summer's attempt at connecting with just plain folk. Oh my!
Just when you'd have thought we'd remain on safe ground for a few more weeks; the Prime Minister who's summer absence was described by critics as arrogant, uncaring and out of touch; has taken to the road with announcements in Vancouver last week, visits and job creation goodies in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island this week, and an Arctic Tour which begins on Monday. And; amidst the unexpected clamour of accusations over the G-20 security tactics; the long-form census controversy; and the sacking of the RCMP's "Gun Registry" honcho - Though described as "somewhat respectably successful" - The Ignatieff summer camp tour has been forced to play to a significantly lesser National audience whilst his speeches, announcements and pronouncements have been preached to a largely converted crowd of existing Liberal supporters. "C'est la vie" as they say too frequently in Politics.
Front and centre, the Conservatives of Prime Minister Harper have faced a summer long barrage of growing accusations over the Government's treatment of officials and bureaucrats with dissenting views. The most recent to join the list is the RCMP Superintendent (Marty Cheliak) dumped from his job overseeing the national "long-gun registry" which the Conservatives have vowed to abolish before September's end. Very recent rumours suggest the Chair and the Vice-Chair of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (The CRTC) are heading for the dumpster as well - At least one wag suggesting - to clear the way for the regulator's blessing of Quebecor's right of centre all news TV outlet: "Sun News" which is being fronted by Mr. Harper's former Chief Spokesman, Kory Teneycke.
Mr. Harper is obsessed with image and some say his Government and Party have taken their agenda control to a freakish new level. But, despite the government's centrally controlled information and news vetting efforts; Conservative insiders have frequently bristled over and complained about the national media's coverage of government initiatives. The Quebecor backed right-wing television news channel modelled on Fox News, and fronted by Mr. Teneycke, is said to be of paramount importance with Mr. Harper and his handlers.
Michael Ignatieff and the rag tag team of Liberals left behind from the back-to-back meltdowns of the Jean Chretien and Paul Martin governments back in 2005 & 2006 don't likely appear too well organized nor prepared much to seize the issue and capitalize significantly from the seemingly arrogant and obsessive behaviour of the current minority government.
Political leaders and observers from both sides of the aisle should know that Parties lose their grip on power when voters perceive that they are too arrogant to work cooperatively on facing and solving the country's common problems. It seems that many issues in Canada may well have reached the point that they should transcend political parties. The bi-partisan turmoil which has crippled the Administration of the Government of the United-States is just one recent (very nearby) example from which to draw our own critical lesson.
Canadians are right to be furious and disillusioned with our Federal politicians. It may be a toss-up on whether we'll be called (once again) to go to the ballot boxes in the fall. However before paradise is lost in a flurry of apathy and disillusionment we will need people who choose to run for office for the purposes that they can serve far more than to merely get elected. Politicians and representatives who are not just saying what they need to get elected, or make promises they can't keep. Beware because eventually they will be judged by their effectiveness and willingness to cooperate. Consensus, so that the tensions and the differences of opinions about the problems we need to address are resolved before the doomsday clock strikes twelve, would be a refreshing change and a good starting point.