Why Don’t People Vote?

There are numerous reasons posited by media pundits and political scientists, but if one needs a demonstrable explanation for the dire lack of interest by almost half of the electorate, then look no further than the example of Fred Slade, Conservative Party candidate in Sudbury, Ontario.

Here, Fred monotonously reads a list of scripted talking points from CPC HQ lays out his “vision” for a Canada that… Zzzzzzz.

I’m sure Slade is a decent and terribly earnest fellow (heck, he served as the President of the Sudbury and District Chartered Accountants Association!), but based on this horrid promotional video, one might just as soon vote for a trained monkey.

Sadly, he’s not alone. The majority of MPs are little more than seat-fillers on one bench or another, at times helping provide a visual backdrop (when they bother to show up for work, that is) or serving as desk-thumping hecklers or cheerleaders, dutifully towing the party line when it comes time to cast their vote, but otherwise nearly invisible and of little to no relevance whatsoever.

Update: On a more thoughtful note, here’s a discussion from TVO’s Agenda program that delves into the role of MPs and their diminishing significance in parliament, as part of the “Politics is Broken” series.

Leadership Debate

I only got around to watching the debate this morning, hence the late posting about it here. Sorry about that.

As usual, it was a worthless exercise that produced nothing in the least bit memorable or illuminating. Aside from occasional moments of amusement provided by Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe gleefully needling both the Liberals and Conservative leaders, the performances were dreadfully lacklustre, vacuous, and painfully stilted. Really, it was just an awful waste of everybody’s time.

According to some Liberal strategists, the “turning point” of the sorry affair can be seen at the beginning of this clip where Ignatieff scoffed at Harper’s plea for an outcome that would deliver a Conservative majority government. “A majority? … Majorities are things you earn when you earn the trust of Canadian people and you haven’t earned the trust of the Canadian people because you don’t trust the Canadian people,” Iggy righteously fumed.

Personally, I thought the most damning moment came shortly afterward where Jack Layton skewered Ignatieff for having “the worst attendance record in the House of Commons of any member of parliament.”

As is typical with these contrived “debates” there didn’t seem to be any clear winner or loser, although Jack Layton certainly came across as the most engaging of the bunch, so I guess in that sense he may perhaps benefited from it more than the others.

While Ignatieff didn’t embarrass himself, he also failed to impress. The relentless personal attacks on Harper that he kept hammering away at all night will do little to attract new support and may even turn some people off. As for Harper, his “preternaturally calm” delivery (to quote Ibbitson) may well have creeped out a lot of folks, but the “stay the course” message of solid growth and economic recovery is one that many will likely find, if not compelling, at least reassuring.

Update: The NDP has released a highlight reel from the debate featuring Jack’s best moments.


To be “fair and balanced” I checked the Liberal and Conservative YouTube sites, but they haven’t released anything to do with the debate.

Update2: Here’s the entire debate via CanuckPolitics. Cheaper than Sominex!