Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The election was not a waste of money

I think people think it's clever to say that this election was a waste of money. Rick Mercer banged on about it last night and Peter Mansbridge even agreed. I remember Joe Clark making a similar claim in the 2000 debates, complaining that Chretien had wasted money on an election because he wanted to stave off Paul Martin.

The idea, as far as I can tell it, is that if an election ends with a Parliament similar to the previous Parliament, then we ought not to have had an election. Or perhaps we should just have delayed it. I am not really sure what advocates of this argument actually propose as an alternative. I suppose it's probable that they don't have one.

For me, I think the election was well worth the money. Think of what we've learned: the Green Party is supported by less than one-in-ten Canadians. Voters are not as keen on Stephane Dion (much to my chagrin, I must say) as his backers assumed. Jack Layton's New Democrats are not in fact more popular than the Liberals, they are not poised for a breakthrough in Quebec, and they are now more effective in Alberta than Dion's Liberals. Finally, you can make any number of overtures towards Quebec, but the Bloc is still a formidable party and will capitalize on small mistakes. These are all things which were less clear before the election.

Perhaps most importantly, we've given a leader a fresh mandate to address the economy, provided he can muster the support of other parties.

What's the alternative to this? To let the government last for another year, listen to the bleating about how the Tories are acting without a mandate, and complain about the need to get rid of them? I suppose for those who don't like the outcome of last night's election that this would be preferable. At least then they could keep up the charade of being democrats. But to complain about the cost of the election because you don't like the outcome -- which is what this seems to be -- is to be either a purveyor of easy jokes, a cynic, or lazy. It certainly doesn't make you a democrat. This election was not a waste of money. They never are.


rossisen said...

They never are? Holy categorical batman!

I thought right from the beginning that the election was a waste of money. I think that Harper will not be in any much better position to achieve his objectives, nor could he have expected to be - aside from just how weakened the Liberals seem to have become.

I saw no reason why the Conservatives should not just keep governing as best they could and not put us through an expensive, distracting exercise that there was little chance of ending up much different than it has.

I have been wondering if Harper saw the prospects of the economy tanking and hoped to get an election over and done with before the malaise stuck to him. I am just getting more and more fed-up of the gamesmanship and lack of principles.

Peter Loewen said...

Pow! Bam! Splat!

I didn't realize that things would end up as they did. In fact, I think the possibility of a Conservative majority was rather high. But I was glad an election demonstrated I was wrong.

I think you'll see Harper is much more powerful in this parliament than in the last. The Liberals are even more weakened.