Friday, November 04, 2005

Gomery, Layton, and the Electorate

"Gomery? What's Gomery?" asked a 20-something, university-educated, aspiring-to-be-a-teacher fellow.

I stopped in mid-flow. How could he not know Gomery?!

"You don't know Gomery?"

"No."

"Oh." After I'd recovered, I explained. His response was surprise at how much into politics I am; he's not interested. He does vote though. Always. Liberal. He's an immigrant. Not the usual suspects they talk about in the news who only vote Liberal -- the Italians, the Indians -- nope, I think he's from the old Soviet Union. He would never vote Conservative.

"The Conservatives aren't anti-immigrant, you know, they do like immigrants too."

"Really?" Somehow I don't think he believed me. We continued chatting...OK, me ranting, him laughing. But then I stopped him in his tracks.

"I'd meant to watch the Gomery report on CTV at 10 that morning, but..."

"This is huge?!"

"Yes, this is huge."

Not the corruption, not the kickbacks, not the malfeascence had convinced him this was a big deal. Nope. It was the fact that CTV was turfing its regular programming in the morning to cover the Gomery Report live.

And people question Jack Layton.

While Stephen Harper, and the media, and the pundits, rave on about this, as if everyone in the country is transfixed and disgusted by the Gomery Report and by anyone who would work with the corrupt Liberals, Layton knows that's not true. He knows there's a great swathe of Liberal voters who vote in every election but pay zero attention to what's going on. They have one idea transfixed in their minds, and that's that the Liberals, and only the Liberals, will take care of them, and unless someone in a one-on-one converation, like I did with this young fellow, jolts them out of their idee fixe, the Gomery Report ain't going to make a whiff of difference.

Layton also knows that most Canadians are still not thrilled about an election yet. We're waiting to see some governing happen, instead of endless rounds of elections and jockeying for power. And if it seems like that's all we're going to get if we keep voting minorities in, then Canadians en masse will vote in another Liberal majority. Harper has not articulated a clear vision for Canada nor a clear policy for how he would govern, and he comes across as a ranting buffoon, who takes less time than Layton to consider the issues and whose sole focus is to unseat the Liberals. Why? That's what I want to know. Why does he want to unseat the Liberals -- other than to gain power, that is? What's in it for me? What's in it for Canada? Harper may think enough time has gone under the bridge for people to have forgotten about Mulroney, but it hasn't. We know the Conservatives can be just as corrupt as the Liberals, not in the same way perhaps, but corrupt nevertheless. The only way we as a country will get an honest government is if we vote in the NDP or the Green Party as the minority government. We know what the NDP stand for, but only those who seek out information know what the Green Party stands for.

Back to my young fellow:

"So you're going to vote Conservative."

"No."

That answer surprised him. He thought for a bit. "Everyone I know is talking about voting for the Green Party. Who are they?"

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Update: Global National reported that the Liberals underwent a "significant drop" in popularity. Really? Significant to me means they're in the 20s while the Conservatives reach 40% and the NDP spike into the high 20s. It doesn't mean the Liberals are neck and neck with the Conservatives, 31% to 30%. Layton can read these poll results as they should be read (hence his continued refusal to bring the government down): Canadians who watch the news are not happy, the rest of the country couldn't care less, and as the fuss dies down, the Liberals will go back up...unless Harper articulates clearly and often a viable platform, the NDP turn their reputation around from being nutbars unqualified to govern, and the Green Party make the media sit up and take notice.

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See previous posts on Gomery: Gomery's Optimism and First Thoughts.

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