May 27, 2004  
Volume 98, Issue 02  

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Your handy guide to the Canadian election

Marshall Law
Marshall Bellamy

News Editor

Let the fun begin.

Scandal, political wrangling, he said-she said, repetitive rhetoric, finger-pointing, accusations, counter-accusations, press releases responding to said accusations and counter-accusations, promises, broken promises, reminders of broken promises and the professed ultimate hope that the voters know best.

Ah, those heyday qualities of federal elections, certainly far better than any sort of fanfare that comes along with a Canadian team competing in the Stanley Cup championship and much more exciting than any fun-in-the-sun ideas any of us had for spending the first few weeks of the summer.

Nope, the election is like a circus for politicos, party hacks and the press who try to drag to entire nation into the scrum with them. However, a little bit of cynicism cannot be helped whenever this joyfully hypocritical time comes along, especially when anyone discusses the party leaders, whom Canadian voters identify with on a far more personal level then their riding candidates.

So here it is, a clumsy student journalist’s guide to the who’s who of Canada’s party leaders.

The best way to start such a column is probably by mentioning our vaunted prime minister, Paul Martin. Over the last several months the man has borne a striking resemblance to Nero, the corrupt Roman emperor who watched Rome burn so he could rebuild it in his own image; of course, he also later blamed the infamous blaze on Christians.

Liberals have been going up and down Parliament Hill telling scary stories of how the corrupt PM is scorching and burning the party to transform it into the best thing to happen to Canadian politics since someone got that crazy idea to let “regular people” vote.

Incidentally, Martin blames all of the Liberals’ problems — and therefore the country’s problems — on a certain former prime minister from Shawinigan.

Then there’s Stephen Harper, who’s banking on the hope that people will feel a little tired of spending the last eon under Liberal rule. He’s in charge of a new and apparently healthy party; what’s more is he has not made nearly as many mistakes as Martin has to date.

Although he has one flaw, he can’t really excite the male voting masses the way Belinda Stronach did. Maybe it’s just too much to ask Harper to be a good leader and a yummy political mummy at the same time.

Of course there’s good old what’s-his-name from the Bloc, but nobody outside of Quebec cares about him and few in Quebec realize he still has a pulse.

We can never forget the lefties, the ones who have big hearts and want the best for everyone: the New Democratic Party. There’s just one thing that probably gets on everyone’s nerves. You know that little five-year-old cousin who always is jumping around trying to get everyone’s attention at the family reunions, always shouting “Look what I can do”? Well NDP leader Jack Layton is just like that: he always has something to say to get the media’s attention, but the voting public treats him as they would that bouncing five-year-old. They pat him on the head, wipe the drool from around his mouth and say, “That’s lovely, dear.”

There you have it! A guide to the Canadian election. Burn it, put it in your wallet or wipe your bottom with it — just make sure you vote.



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