20 Apr A serving of crow, best eaten promptly
After listening to wrongness guru Kathryn Schultz‘s TED talk on the counterintuitive blessings of making mistakes, it seems an opportune moment to get this out of the way. A quiet but astute observer of provincial and national politics writes:
I meant to ask you where you get your drugs from. They are obviously very powerful. I mean, how else can you explain your federal election campaign outcome prediction?
That would be this prediction:
I look forward to their stories a month from now acknowledging April 12 as the turning point when a majority slipped from Harper’s grasp, and a minority Liberal Government became a real possibility.
The post-debate polls are mixed, and mostly flat. They certainly reveal no such turning point. The only real change seems to be a startling rise in soft support for Jack Layton in the unlikely province of Quebec, where he has taken over second place in most polls. Whether this translates into many, or any, seats is an open question, since the NDP vote in the province is inefficient, in the sense of being too evenly spread among many ridings to produce majorities under Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system.
Another friend, a Nova Scotian by inclination currently suffering asylum in Toronto, summed up the election this way:
Isn’t this campaign awful? Layton, my MP, seems to be winning ever since the debate, heaven help us. I have a feeling anything could happen. Two events stand out.
One was the televised English debate, in which only Layton seemed authentic. The other was the Ignatieff interview with Peter Mansbridge today. For a generation over 40, Mansbridge represents something along the lines of Walter Cronkite — the guy who presides at the campfire, the embodiment of Canadian centrality. He’ll be the last one, of course, since now everyone’s a short-lived broadcaster, but to watch his cold, barely concealed contempt for the actor and nimble intellect before him was to realize that even at the top of his considerable game, Ignatieff isn’t achieving acceptance — which is what the polls seem to show, however faulty they may be: he hasn’t moved the dial much.
The other: I spent some of today rapt, watching Day 1 of SUN-TV. It’s lunatic. Prewar Germany. Sex and death. The Americanization of Canada, in the worst imaginable way. How did the country ever beget this Rosemary’s Baby of television? OK, I may exaggerate, but if it’s a taste of Harper regimes to come, we are in the wrong hands to put it gently.
If you are straining to find a silver lining in these trends, it’s this: In the main, the polls point to a Harper minority and a carbon copy of the current parliamentary seat allocation. If that happens, we could be rid of all four leaders before our next trip to the polls. Wouldn’t that be a blessing?