22 September 2015

#52 Fix-o-date

Ah, the fixed election date. It’s that law that was adopted by a vote of all the parties in 2007 and was subsequently followed in…oh…one of the three elections since.

The first time around, with Mr. Harper’s first minority government. The opposition was clamouring for the government to step down and had even come together with an agreement to form a coalition to govern in its place (a practice very common in many western democracies, including members of the Commonwealth) when the Prime Minister, judging his chances to be better at the polls, asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and issue the election writ. Opportunity drove him to disregard his own law, and an attempt to block this in the courts revealed what we all knew all along: the law is unenforceable. It is window-dressing and a sideshow. The important law is the constitution, which sets out a maximum term of five years for any government and would trigger an election whether or not the leader of the day wanted one.

Time number two was even more mercenary. Again judging the polls to be favourable to an elusive majority for his government, Mr. Harper provoked the opposition parties to vote a motion of no confidence and off we went to the polls a year earlier than the law foresaw.

Here we are at time number three, finally respecting the law, but with a new twist. Because we all knew when the election had to be, there was time to plan a whole lot of pre-campaign advertising and then we got the latest surprise: a campaign more than twice as long as we are used to, all to capitalize on the governing party’s perception of having a lot more cash at hand than the opposition. I know my friends in the USA find it funny that we should balk at a 78 day campaign as being long, since they are pretty much locked in a perpetual campaign for the House of Representatives and about two years every time the President is elected, but I think we have been witness to yet another foible of the changes to the Elections Act: no upper limit on the length of an election campaign.

Let’s fix that after we dump these jerks.

Further reading here

I voted a law
and then I ignored it once…
twice! Third time lucky?

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