Canada’s right-wing media have been publishing poll after poll in recent days, apparently showing that the Harper Conservatives are in the lead. This selective polling process has led them to the premature conclusion that Stephen Harper is heading for another term as Prime Minister, this time with a majority government.
But the campaign is far from over and the Harper road-show knows it. These polling figures are just another tactical maneuver aimed at demoralizing the contending parties and their supporters. If the Harper roadies can start a negative feedback loop, they hope to seduce Canadians into assuming "if the Conservatives are heading for a majority anyway, why bother voting?"
The National Post, Canada’s leading right-wing newspaper, glibly labels the New Democrats "leftist" and the Bloc Quebecois "separatist" in its news stories, yet you won’t ever see the term "right-wing Conservatives" in its pages.
But reality these days doesn’t reside only on the right. In fact, the Harper Conservatives (who had 127 out of 308 seats at the dissolution of Parliament) need to win at least 28 more ridings – as well as retaining every single seat they captured in 2006 — to be assured of a majority outcome.
And just where will all those new and incumbent seats come from? In their strategic wisdom, the Conservatives’ back-room brains are counting on Quebec and Ontario – especially the Greater Toronto Area — to provide them.
But let’s look at these assumptions a little more closely.
What can Harper and the Conservative ideology offer Quebec that the Bloc or Liberals haven’t done already? Will he send more Quebecois men and women to fight, and possibly die, in Afghanistan? He’s already given Quebec the autonomy of quasi-nation status, with the support of the other parties. Really, there is nothing else he can offer!
As for the GTA, it is a far more sophisticated and cultured region than the Conservatives seem to grasp. Those who voted Liberal or NDP in the 2006 election are unlikely to switch now — Harper is just too right-wing for the cosmopolitan GTA. They see in him a junior version of George W. Bush and they do not like the resemblance.
Back in 2004, Canada’s right-wing media (again led by the National Post) hyped Harper as the emergent Conservative strongman who would defeat the Liberals and their new leader, Paul Martin. Canadians still voted for Martin as a known quantity; it may have been a minority government, but it was a Liberal win nevertheless.
If Canadians aren’t convinced yet, they have only to look to the south to see what eight years of right-wing politics can do to a country. To give a majority to the same type of ideology that our American neighbors have experienced under Bush’s "leadership" would be nothing short of disastrous for Canada.
But there is a ray of hope that could rescue Canada even from another Conservative minority government; and that is for the Liberals and NDP to form a coalition. In the last Parliament, the seats held by both opposition parties totaled far more than those held by the Conservatives.
On October 14, Canadians can use every single one of their votes to turn this hope into a reality.