If this election campaign is a sprint to the finish, then it’s a slow and steady one. The long weekend marked the start of what will be Canada’s longest federal election campaign in more than 140 years.
Like it or not, all of us have some part to play during this 11-week election-thon, whether it be as voters or non-voters, candidates, canvassers, organizers, volunteers, scrutineers, journalists, bloggers, news junkies or even cynics.
A campaign this long will be more expensive for taxpayers because of Elections Canada costs and tax rebates to political parties. But if the final vote results in good government and smart spending decisions moving forward, then it’s impossible to place a dollar value on it.
We understand some of the cynicism – we’re subjected to year-round attack ads already, and can now expect them to further offend our eyes, ears and sensibilities.
But we like to believe that there’s more to an election campaign than partisan propaganda. The issues matter. So do the party platforms and promises, the quality of the candidates, the debates and the hustings. Charisma, catchphrases and momentum cannot be underestimated.
We in the media love politics, for good and ill, and are fascinated by these grand social experiments that come along every few years. There’s a political science to winning an election, and some of what’s to come is predictable, but a lot of it isn’t.
In some ways, our choices are limited – it’s between them, them, them or the other guys. But this election is not all about them; it’s also about us. The parties will try to appeal to our Canadian identity, pocketbooks and priorities, then we’ll be the ones who will choose where we’re headed as a country, how we’re getting there, and with whom. And we’ve got a long time to take a good, long look.