I'm voting Conservative
BY JOSEPH PLANTA
Monday, 23 January 2006
VANCOUVER - Before the main commentary, I ought to acknowledge a note I received from a reader, one Helen Higginbotham. She's correct to point out the exclusion of Johnny Cochrane from the annual death list that ran in this space last month. I did forget the colourful defence attorney, as well as the great American playwright Arthur Miller, and the caustic comedian Richard Pryor.
Today, when I go to the election poll I will be marking my ballot for the Conservative candidate in my riding of Vancouver Kingsway, Kanman Wong.
It's been a habit of mine to discuss who I'm voting for in this space. Having always abhorred those who refuse to discuss their vote saying it's private, I discuss my vote if only that in this space I regularly discuss books I read or theatre I've seen, and frankly it's of no difference. As well, my vote has little consequence in the sense that discussing it in this space does not mean I seek to influence anybody else. At the end of the night we'll all know how the country voted, so having an idea of how one person voted adds something to the study of election, its citizens and their motivation for voting the way they did.
Having amassed a bit of mileage in this space, it's often interesting to see previous pieces linked on other websites or blogs. Most of the pieces linked from this website have been previous screeds written criticising or lambasting the latest idiocy from the Liberal government in Ottawa. The Chrétien government did not have it so easy, whether it was his nephew, who as ambassador to Washington was running his mouth off about who he wanted to win the American presidential race in 2000, or about HRDC, or any other hint of Liberal arrogance.
If the current polls are to be believed, then it's lights out for the Liberals after today's election. I've never held much stock in polls, preferring to take credence in Diefenbaker's old bon mot that polls are for dogs to do their business on. However, a couple of weeks ago, in conversation with the president of the polling firm Environics, Michael Adams assured me that polls in the Canadian context have been largely accurate. Stephen Harper is set to become prime minister in a future minority parliament, and the Liberals will be out after nearly 13 years at the trough.
The question is not how large Harper's minority government will be, but what he'll do with it. Paul Martin, for all the arrogance and cluelessness, tried to accomplish some things in his short tenure. Harper in whatever time he's got in power must endeavour to do more. The Conservative Party does not have recent troubles like an income trust leak or Adscam to distract them. The burden of government will doubtless be higher on Harper. His base will demand that he accomplish much of their agenda.
Yesterday on an interview on CTV, the questions lobbed Harper by Craig Oliver were optimistic enough that even Harper couldn't help but beam. Granted that he was measured in his enthusiasm, it really did feel as if it today's results were preordained. Of course, we all have to wait and see what the verdict of the people is, but one has to ask, what if Harper does not make it? What if, saddled with another minority, Canadians are treated to the spectacle that Harper would remain leader of the opposition? Would Conservatives want to go into a third election with Harper at the helm?
Granted that prospect is remote, I've voted for enough losers these past six years that I don't want to put the cart before the horse. For me, cautious optimism reigns the day. Harper's initial challenge will be to form a government that will balance the demands of his base. It's the sort of challenge that Martin has had, trying to be too many things to too many people. Sure Harper is from Alberta, but to have come this far, he's had to make concessions to Ontario and Quebec, not to mention cultivate less animosity with people in the Atlantic region of the country. Can Harper effectively balance the fulfillment of the aspirations of the west that has wanted in for so long, with the moderation and centrism that Ontario voters demand?
This will be the challenge for Harper. The rancour from this part of the country about Harper has been allayed if only for the fact that Harper was a policy wonk in the early days of the Reform Party. But since then, he's worked visibly hard to not offend central Canadian sensibilities, thus sometimes appear a bit of a sell out to this part of the country. It isn't enough that a leader has to come from the west-Kim Campbell and Joe Clark showed us that. They're elected because they are deserving of a chance in governing, and each day demonstrate that they are worthy of that chance.
I am voting for Kanman Wong today because I have never thought it very important who was my MP, as much as whom my MLA would be, because the value of an MP is of little consequence. At least that's what we've seen since Trudeau said they were nobodies fifty feet from Parliament Hill. The person doesn't matter, federally, as much as the party. Perhaps Stephen Harper and the Conservatives will do something about that balance of power; maybe not; but for now, whether Wong is elected, will make little difference to the lot of constituents in Vancouver Kingsway.
David Emerson, the Liberal incumbent, and senior political minister in the province, will say it does matter, and that in his tenure he's brought much to this community. Perhaps that's true, but from my purview I am unconvinced. Has he done much to the lot of British Columbians in general, yes he has, but voting for him would be incongruous to my belief that the Conservative Party would be the best party to elect today, and Stephen Harper would be the best prime minister compared to Paul Martin. As well, voting for Emerson would only validate a government that has been sloppy and corrupt.
Had I even considered the NDP and its candidate Ian Waddell? Sure, I had, but only for a moment. As a former MP he'd bring much to the tenor of debate in the House of Commons, as well as his experience in other areas including a stint as a provincial cabinet minister.
However, it's all about who your favourite party is, and for a small reason, who you think would be the best prime minister. For me, that's as good as any reason to vote for Kanman Wong and the Conservative Party of Canada.
A final note about this election and the race in Vancouver Kingsway. My endorsement of Kanman Wong may appear half-hearted, in the sense that I think he probably won't win, and that it's a two-horse race between Waddell and Emerson. I was disappointed that when proffered an opportunity to appear on this website's interview segment, none of the major candidates, save for a perfunctory reply from the Emerson campaign, replied to my request for an interview. I did not pursue a request with David Emerson, as I did not wish to feature him if the other candidates, major or otherwise would not as well be featured. If Kanman Wong or Ian Waddell were to become the member of parliament after today, I would hope that they would be more studious in replying to their e-mail.
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