11.18.2005

here's my question

What is the big deal about a Christmas election??? Will someone please explain this to me?

20 comments:

RobfromAlberta said...

It's been a tradition in Canada to hold elections in the fall or spring so they don't intrude on the Christmas holidays or the summer vacation season. That way, Canadians are able to pay more attention to the campaign. In this case, Martin is trying to gain a little political traction by making a big deal out of it. It's politics, you work whatever angle you can to get more votes. Overall, it won't make much of a difference unless a really bad cold snap or snowstorm hits metro Toronto on election day.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Christmas is also a more important holiday in Canada then the U.S., not because we're more religious, but because the whole Christmas/BoxingDay/NewYear week is the only holiday between October and April.

Lone Primate said...

It's probably no mistake to say that Canadian elections tend to be held in spring, when a government can swing it. There's a sense of renewal that works well with the idea. Governments that are looking to renew a mandate tend to pitch elections for April or May on the one hand, or September on the other. People are either gearing up for the summer and tidying up old business, or coming back with a renewed sense of resuming serious pursuits. But that's only part of the answer.

Canadians, like anyone else, don't like being frequently bothered with election campaigns. They do have to come periodically but generally, we want to choose a government, wind it up, and let it do its bit for four or five years till we have to do it again. They tend to be in a punitive mood if required to do this by fiat. They either punish the government for screwing up (as when Joe Clark's fell in 1980) or the opposition for bringing down the government frivilously (as has happened at various times in various provincial elections). It remains to be seen what will happen if it's brought about this time... if the Gomery Report is a bigger deal than a snap election. Frankly, I'm at a loss to make a prediction. Just have to wait and see.

Wrye said...

And Canadians tend to punish governments that trigger unnecessary elections in general. While most provonces and the feds have some flexibility in calling an election (between 3 and 5 years), and we aren't locked into the 4 year cycle and a fixed election day (Though BC seems to have changed this), governments that call an election after 3 years just becaus ethey think they can win it tend to get pummeled at the ballot box. Similarly, governments that drag it out into a fifth year because they're afraid of losing usually have very good reason to, and invariably get massacred.

So it's a psychology thing. They're afraid of irritating the electorate (more than they already are, that is). But there was a christmas election back in the 1970s, and the world didn't end, either.

Generally, we do like to remind politicos that they serve at our pleasure. A friend of mine liked to use this analogy. He would say...

Think of the movie "Dave" (or almost any other movie about the presidency) there was a lot of emphasis on the Prince and the Pauper aspect of the story, and on how the President gets to live it up in Opulence. Imagine if that movie was about 24 Sussex Drive. There'd be RIOTS.

So, we see Prime Ministers (at least 3 of the last 4, I believe) who are anxious to go on Rick Mercer's Show and show us all that they're just ordinary folks like us...

James said...

Canadians, like anyone else, don't like being frequently bothered with election campaigns. They do have to come periodically but generally, we want to choose a government, wind it up, and let it do its bit for four or five years till we have to do it again.

One thing I love about having free-floating elections (as opposed to US-style pre-scheduled ones) is that election campaigns are generally pretty short. Here, they tend to last a couple of months, while in the US they usually start about six months after the election and run 3.5 years...

Did you catch the guest on Michelle "In Defense of Internment" Malkin's weblog, who said,

Keep a sharp eye on fresh developments in both Canada and Cuba, two countries with rogue, corrupt and repressive regimes that don't know when to cut their losses and leave town.

Is it just me, or is the idea of a "rogue Canadian government" something like the idea of a "rampaging tree-sloth"?

Marnie said...

I agree about the annoyance factor, and there's also the fact that a lot of people go away at Christmas, to visit family or lie on a beach somewhere. I think it would be idiotic to call an election until (well into) the new year.

mister anchovy said...

All the parties are happy to have any noise that deflects attention from the fact that none of those characters have much to offer the country.

Amateur said...

I didn't love it, but it was better and I'll keep watching.

That's it! That's the Canadian spirit!

James said...

So how are you enjoying our first sticking snowfall of the winter?

Lori's going to be very unhappy when I get home.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

Off topic:

There was another shooting in Toronto, making it the 69th homicide this year.

You'll notice the fear level ratchet up more, even though that's paltry compared to American cities of similar size. It must seem very odd to you, but it is much higher than normal.

The duck thief said...

Hi, just found your blog. It's great to hear you're watching Rick Mercer. I especially loved last year's episode where he explained why the Liberals will rule Canada forever and wanting to change Stockwell's first name to Doris.

A Christmas election means we're going to have to watch those nauseating ads and look at candidate signs while trying to spend time with family. While Rick Mercer's right, it doesn't take long to vote, it's just another added stress to an already stressful season. Plus, who wants to watch those language debates? I watched the english debate during the last election and the candidates were practically screaming at each other like children.

Andrea said...

I am a little annoyed with a Christmas election as I wont be back in Canada yet and cant vote. I have been out of the country too long to qualify for absantee voting. Damn.
I used to vote every time before I moved.

L-girl said...

Thanks for the perspectives, everyone. Very educational.

The only argument that makes sense to me - in a rational way - is that so many Canadians are out of the country during the winter holiday. If masses of people are really not around to vote, it does seem wrong to hold an election.

As far as people being too busy with the holidays to pay attention to the campaign, that's just stupid, in my opinion. Anyone can read the paper in the morning or watch the news at night. Most people do not become so wrapped up in holiday busy-ness that they truly don't know what's going on in the world.

Of course I understand politicians working whatever angles they can find. But rationally, come on.

L-girl said...

So how are you enjoying our first sticking snowfall of the winter?

I loved it! I was going to blog about it, but it was so light, and gone in the morning. Cody rolled and romped in the backyard, it was beautiful. (Although lonely for me to see, of course.)

L-girl said...

There was another shooting in Toronto, making it the 69th homicide this year.

You'll notice the fear level ratchet up more, even though that's paltry compared to American cities of similar size. It must seem very odd to you, but it is much higher than normal.


Oh yes, I've been reading about it. I'm really heartened to see what a fuss is made over it. It's not accepted as just the way things are, the way urban violence is in the US. I blogged about this somewhere back there.

L-girl said...

it's just another added stress to an already stressful season. Plus, who wants to watch those language debates?

If voting is stressful and you feel "who wants to watch those debates," then why care when the election is.

Personally, I can't imagine how voting could be stressful.

By the way, Duck Thief, you've been here before, you've left a few comments over the months. Thanks for stopping by.

Liam J said...

My problem with the election is not with timing, but simply with choice. Of the three main parties to choose from in Ontario I get right wing ideologues, left wing ideologues, or a bunch of folks in between who will say and do whatever it takes to win. It does not give me great hope for the future of this country.

As for the Christmas timing: While it will piss people off, it also means that the politicians will have to do more of their own dirty work, since it's harder to get volunteers.

sharonapple said...

It might sound spoiled to complain about a Christmas election, but this election is irritating because there's no point to it other than political opportunism. The governing party's bleeding and the opposition parties think that they will pick up seats. No one seems to have any issues or real platforms other than the Liberals have been in power for too long. And it bugs me that no parties have any plan for breaking into Quebec other than to speak French in the French Language Debates. This means that the Bloc has the advantage of pushing themselves as the alternative to the Liberals. Well, Duceppe has the advantage no matter what happens. All the other leaders have to campaign across the country, while all he has to concentrate is on one province....

And I'm not sure if I want a repeat of the last election. It was so strange and angry. There were reports of people destroying signs and throwing rocks at campaign headquarters.... Layton accused Martin of hurting the homeless with his budget cuts, and then he burst into tears and was taken away in a car. Harper was in the lead and then talked about tabling abortion legislation if he had a second terms in power. (Yikes.) Then a week before the vote, Harper accused Martin of supporting child porn.... and then the other opposition leaders told Harper to apologies, which he refused to do.

Anyway, here's an interesting site to keep track of everything. It's motto is apt. Canada is a country of 32 million Prime Ministers.
http://www.canadawebpages.com/

Trevor said...

[Keep a sharp eye on fresh developments in both Canada and Cuba, two countries with rogue, corrupt and repressive regimes that don't know when to cut their losses and leave town.

Is it just me, or is the idea of a "rogue Canadian government" something like the idea of a "rampaging tree-sloth"?]

We have a rogue government? COOL!!!

As an exiled Canadian I feel like a kid who just had his first cigarette out in the woods behind school.

Re: Christmas elections. People have enough to do at Christmas. But governments in trouble (or for that matter, minority governments trying to become majority governments - and for the record, I am a Liberal voter, but I'm a fiscal conservative) like elections at these times -- because with so many distractions, if you can mobilize your base, you can get out the vote and win just a few more seats.

The duck thief said...

If voting is stressful and you feel "who wants to watch those debates," then why care when the election is.

Personally, I can't imagine how voting could be stressful.


The only answer I have is that I'd rather be spending time with family and friends at Christmas. It's one of the few times a year I get to go home. I don't want to be bothered with an election. Add winter road conditions and I'll probably be hoofing it to the polling station.

I guess maybe voting is just stressful for me. I feel like I'm trying to pick the party that will do the least damage to the country.