Thunder Bay – EDITORIAL – If the national polls are right, Canadians may on May 2nd as the votes are counted witness a fundamental shift in Canada’s political alignment. Voters seem to be sending a message to the politicians that they want something different. The surge in support by the New Democrats in Quebec, has come from out of ‘left field’ so to speak. At the start of the campaign, it would have been almost impossible to predict that support for the Bloc would virtually collapse. Equally, the idea that Jack Layton would in effect beat up Michael Ignatieff in the debates over his lack of attendance in the House of Commons, which would burst the Liberal leader’s balloon would not have something anyone could have predicted.
It could be that for many Canadians, watching the debates, and watching the campaign, of the three national party leaders, Layton is the one person who actually looks like he is actually enjoying the campaign. To a degree, the Prime Minister has often seemed to appear far too tightly bound to staying on message. The Liberal leader has made some minor stumbles and bumbles. The other day, in Prince Edward Island, Ignatieff spoke to the crowd about how he spend time talking to a cow he owns on the Island, and the cow told him Wayne Easter would be re-elected. Hardly the stirring words of a leader.
Over the next several days, Jack Layton and the NDP face what will be their greatest challenge. First off the full spotlight of the national media will be on the NDP campaign. Second, voters in ridings across Quebec and the rest of Canada will likely start looking at the candidates the NDP has offered. One report has a Quebec NDP candidate vacationing in Las Vegas. When her employer was contacted asking about her candidacy, he didn’t know she was running. Hardly the stock of a solid Member of Parliament.
If the public and the media start looking at the candidates seriously, that could shift voter opinion faster than the national polls would be able to report the change. However where that support might go is hard to say. Will it go back to the Bloc, over to the Liberals, the Conservatives? Or will it simply never show up at the polls?
No one will know for sure until all the votes are counted.
A poll conducted for The Hill Times suggests that the Bloc could fall to only three seats. If that happens, and the NDP gains the bulk of those seats which the polls are suggesting, Canada’s political landscape will look very different.
If the pollsters are right, there is the strong likelihood of significant change atop the political parties coming too.
Likely, if the Conservatives do not form a majority government, the party will see a strong move to find a new leader. If the Liberals fall to third place, it would be almost impossible for Michael Ignatieff to stay on as leader. As well, the same likely holds true for both the Bloc and for the Green Party if the results don’t show demonstrated growth.
For the Green Party if Elizabeth May wins a seat in Parliament, it might make a leadership change almost impossible. That may however prove, based on the projected increased strength of the New Democrats a major body blow to the Greens. Based on the most current polling numbers nationally the Green Party has dropped in support across the country. That drop in support should show the need for a new leader.
For an election that started as one that some dubbed a ‘Seinfeld’ election about nothing, it has quickly turned into a critical crossroads for many in the political arena.
That of course is just my opinion, as always, your mileage may vary.