Predictions difficult in this election

NANAIMO – Long campaign might make for short memories among voters.

Remember the first day of the campaign when Liberal leader Justin Trudeau wasn’t available for comment on the writ drop until the afternoon, and everyone was saying how that decision might cost him the election?

Neither do I.

It’s been a long campaign, second only to that of 1872 when politicians campaigned for 89 days. By the time the ballots are counted, we’ll have been at this for 78 days.

That’s 11 weeks, or just under three months. This campaign started in August, remember.

Have to say, with still a week to go, I’m a fan of our normal 45-odd day campaign. Whoever wins the House on Monday (Oct. 19), I’d like to put in a request that we go back to that format.

But until then, let’s recap.

We started the election in August, just before the trial of Tory senator Mike Duffy was set to resume in an Ottawa courthouse. Duffy, remember, is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and bribery as part of the Senate expenses scandal. The key witness was Nigel Wright, who gave Duffy money to pay back questionable expenses. His testimony gave us all a peek into the highly controlling Prime Minister’s Office and raised questions about how much our prime minister knew about the gift.

Media thought this might sink the Conservatives’ chances even before the election really started. You can’t really blame them – the NDP was riding another orange wave of more than 30 per cent in polling.

The Maclean’s debate was a highlight of this campaign and attracted by some estimates more than three million viewers online. It also exposed Green Party leader Elizabeth May to a broad national audience.

Liberals and Dippers were called out for social media gaffes, such as claiming there is some truth to the 9-11 falling towers conspiracy, that pot was OK around kids or the one candidate who was unclear on the historical significance of Auschwitz.

But when toddler Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on a Greek beach, a casualty of the Syrian refugee crisis, Canada’s self-identity in the world was shaken to its core. Believing ourselves to be a humanitarian country, it was a shock to learn that Canada could have helped, instead losing his extended family’s application in the quagmire of immigration bureaucracy.

That would have finished any other party but the Conservatives. They hung in there.

Trudeau took a left turn and announced three years of deficit budgets, out-socializing the socialists. Pundits said that might have been the moment that cost him the election.

A few more debates were had, with May gate crashing via Twitter, and the Tories and the Bloc Québécois threw a niqab on the table.

All that happened and so might this: Liberals are polling neck-and-neck with Conservatives among decided voters. Did you ever think we might be saying Prime Minister Trudeau in a week? Or continue saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper?

If I could digress into the serious for a bit and point out that the issues discussed will set the direction of our country for decades to come. Policies on child care and parental support will directly affect citizens’ wealth and ability to work; education options, such as student loan forgiveness, interest elimination or free tuition, affect the skills of young workers replacing the Boomers; leadership on trade and resource extraction will define the Canadian economy.

An election will make us laugh, cringe or roll our eyes but it will also define us. When you stand alone in that voting booth, you choose not only a candidate, but also your vision of Canada.

Happy voting.

editor@nanaimobulletin.com