Maybe We Wanted An Election After All


This was supposed to be the Seinfeld election — and election about nothing.


But if the public opinion polls are correct, Canadians might just be a lot more interested in this supposedly unwanted election than the pundits predicted. And this bodes well for our democracy.


Public opinion polls of late show an entirely unexpected and unprecedented surge in support for Jack Layton and the New Democrats.


Renewed interest in the New Democrats — a party that was, according to the pundits, just struggling to stay relevant in this election — has made a routine election into one of potentially historic consequences. Canadians appear interested in alternatives they might not have considered before, a sign that maybe democracy isn’t on its sick bed in this country after all.


How it all shakes down come next Monday may be entirely different from the opinion polls, but the fact that there is volatility is an encouraging sign, and could lead to a higher voter turnout. The Liberal party base, terrified of coming in third, is likely to be galvanized by the polls and turn out in larger numbers to thwart the threat from the left. To a lesser extent, complacent Conservative voters might be inspired to vote to fight off the leftist menace.


Even in true blue Edmonton, there are rumblings of voter interest. Edmonton-Strathcona is one of Canada’s most closely watched ridings. But what of Edmonton-Centre, where the three main parties all have credible, well-financed, hard working candidates? And in Edmonton-East, the NDP had a good run in 2008; can Ray Martin ride a surge in NDP support and upset Peter Goldring?


Canada is fortunate to have a diversity of choices at the federal level. Compared to the U.S.A., where politics is increasingly polarized into two camps, there’s truly something for everyone in a Canadian federal election.  Even if you’re living in a ‘safe’ Tory riding, you have an obligation to your country to vote. Change will not happen if good people do nothing.


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