Sunday, January 22, 2006

2006 federal election - episode 8

Warehouse Election Central

Signs, fishwrap - plenty to cover as the campaign enters its final hours.

Newsstand Watch
A.S. Pryncesse looks at what the papers say...

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Electoral Deathwatch 2006!

As election day draws nearer and it becomes progressively clearer that a change of government is in the offing, the national papers have begun circling like buzzards around the most likely political victims.

The bodies of Belinda Stronach and Scott Brison appear to be ripest for pecking. On Wednesday, The Globe fronted with a picture of each, both looking vaguely troubled, and followed with articles that are quietly confident each will eke a victory. The Star, reporting on a meeting between La Belinda and La Buzz, was well-hidden, but no less hopeful. Don Martin, in his Wednesday column for the Post, counted both Stronach and Brison among the "Hopeful Dead", the group of wealthy Liberal ministers (including Jean Lapierre, Ken Dryden, David Emmerson, John McCallum and Bill Graham) who probably want to be defeated to avoid the ignominy of sitting in opposition without Cabinet perks.

This kind of reporting hasn’t been limited to sitting candidates. Despite a race described as "neck and neck", the Globe has noted that Conservatives smell "something good" in Etobicoke-Lakeshore (presumably the scent of Michael Ignatieff’s slowly-decaying corpse). The Star made no such claims in its article on the would-be MP, though it devoted considerable ink to the protesters at the previous night’s all-candidates meeting, who are against his support of the war in Iraq.

The shadow of death has apparently stretched all the way to Washington, according to recent reports. Both the Star and the Post have recently written reports about the uneasy political future of ambassador Frank McKenna should the Conservatives win the election. Chantal Hébert hit first in her Wednesday column, which appears to have been closely read by the Post’s Sheldon Alberts (though his Friday article does add a few helpful quotes).

Not even the Tories are safe. Some papers have declared the Conservative majority to be in its death throes because of Smug Stephen’s comments about a Liberal bias in the judiciary and the Senate. The headlines are blunt: the Globe shouts "Harper’s lead takes a hit" while Brian Laghi asks "Has he squandered another shot at majority?" The Star pulled a page out of the Martin playbook, asking: "Is the religious right poised to set Harper’s agenda?" For its part, the Post interviewed a member of the Canada West foundation (a group it makes pains to identify as "non-partisan"), who described all the changes that need to be made to ensure that governments can pass legislation more efficiently. (The paper also managed to come up with a front-page headline containing both the words "Liberal" and "sleazy").

As this political death match comes to an end (and not eight weeks too soon), the papers continue to speculate on the most likely scene of carnage. While electoral challenges in every region of the country have been well-documented, most articles have focused on Québec, British Columbia, and – certainly in recent days – Ontario. The Post on Friday identified the 401 corridor as the deciding factor in the election, while the Star on Friday was positively frothing, describing Ontario as "the final battle site in the federal election and it’s turning into an epic Liberal-Conservative fight over sex, politics and religion".

Given today’s subject, it seems apt to take the opportunity to officially euthanize this column. However, I don’t want to do that before thanking the Warehouse and all its readers. I’ve had a lot of fun putting these articles together, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reviewing them.

Signs O' The Times
Just a few signs the WEC team found out on the hustings, high on the sweet fumes of a freshly painted car.

From Windsor West comes this patched-together beauty, a lesson in how to use surplus small lawn signs. Comes in peel-off or scratch n' sniff sticker versions.

Here's one I bet many urbanites haven't seen - a Christian Heritage Party sign, from Guelph. Corny, corny slogan. They know what's right alright...insert your own joke (the WEC staff had a field day).

Also from Guelph, two of at least four designs for the Green Party candidate. Their unusual shape and compact size are ideal for placement in grassy medians (we recommend a drive along Gordon St in the south end of the Royal City for full impact).

From Wellington-Halton Hills, a rare non-party sign. Small, simple, colour-neutral, if ineffective next to a mound of snow.

Nile's Nook
Regular Warehouse contributor Nile Seguin returns with election stories buried deep in the paper...

This week, racy ads designed to convince more young people to vote were banned from some Edmonton bars, restaurants and post-secondary institutions. The ads were thought to be too sexual and it was thought that the election would pull the youth away from the annual book burning.

The group Democracy is Sexy wanted to put the ads in the University of Alberta pubs and a number of hangouts frequented by younger Edmontonians. It was later discovered however that even if the ads had run, they would be quickly ruined by a salivating, drunken Ralph Klein as he tried to make out with them.

One of the ads depicted a naked woman holding a strategically placed apple with the tag line: "Chew on this. Vote on Jan. 23." The less subtle ads had a naked man licking another man’s forearm with the caption: “Decide whose fist you’ll take. Vote on Jan. 23.”

Democracy is Sexy spokesman Alistair King says that ads in the series, got a negative reaction. "The general reaction was they couldn't post them," King said. Bar owners complained that the sexualized images were taking valuable testosterone away from patrons who needed the gonad juice to go gay bashing.

King said the ads were meant to "cut through the clutter...(and target) people who are young and not interested in politics and we thought the best way to do that would be to use ideas...that would shock them." Amongs the other shocking images were a woman voting, a black man voting and a black man and white woman making out as they voted.

King said he planned to buy ad space in places where only adults would have seen the posters. This would include Edmonton bars, adult clubs and grade 12 classes.

1979 Election Update
From the May 7/79 issue of Maclean's:

Polling showed that the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives were in a tight race, with over 30% of voters undecided. Replace the names in the following quote with the party leaders in 2006 and ask yourself how much has changed.

It is a time of anitpathy against Pierre Trudeau and ambivalence about Joe Clark. It is a season when Ed Broadbent, a socialist in Pierre Cardin threads, mainstreets outside the Toronto Stock Exchange; when Creditiste leader Fabien Roy, political scion of Real Caouette's fierce federalism, hitches his star to the Parti Quebecois machine. It is an election of riddles, agony and anger.
- Robert Lewis, "The Undecided - Where Will They Go?" (p.22)
In an interview with the Toronto Star, Trudeau admitted that if the Tories fell short of a majority, he would try to govern with the NDP, which ended up being "a piece of strategizing that went down like filet mignon with Baby Duck". Clark indicated he would ignore the NDP and Creditistes, governing a minority like a majority. Broadbent's campaign was marred by poor weather, while Roy fired several staffers for poorly organized whistle stops.

The Rhinoceros Party unveiled its platform, vowing not to keep promises such as switching Canada from dollars to marks, melting bullets to make spoons and creating a Crown corporation to sell marijuana seized in RCMP raids.

Coverage in following weeks was pushed behind the many floods across the country that spring, the largest along the Red River.

The WEC Election Desk will return for one more episode, covering the aftermath of the vote. Don't forget to go to your polling station and fill out your ballot for whoever your gut tells you is the candidate/party you agree with most. - AP, JB, NS

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