In just over two weeks Canada will have chosen its leaders for the next federal term.
With so much time for the candidates to campaign, Canadians have, in fact, been able to get good solid information on just about every topic that is pertinent to national leadership, from the economy, to immigration, to climate change and tourism strategies.
That is not to say Canadians have heard the answers they want from the political parties — Conservatives, Liberals, Greens and the NDP.
Of course, that is always the issue — for most people no one party's platform has everything you want.
That much was clear at this week's all-candidates meeting at Whistler's Millennium Place on Sept.28.
But until electoral reform leads to the end of a governing system where one party has absolute power, we can't expect anything to change.
It is likely that Canada will be facing a minority government even with the current past-the-post system, where consensus building and a return to "committee" work to get things done would be the only way forward for the nation after the Oct.19 election.
This is not good news. In the 41 Parliaments since Confederation, there have been 11 minority governments. The last minority was that under Prime Minister Harper himself, from 2008 to 2011. The average life of a minority government is one year, seven months and 27 days, compared with four years and four days for majorities.
So as you consider who to vote for it may be wise to look at the past records of the candidates on their ability to build consensus and partnerships and get things done.
We already know that a minority scenario without the Conservatives being in charge won't include Harper — he doesn't want to play in the sandbox if he can't be in control of all the toys.
Nor is it likely there will be a coalition as Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has made it clear he will not partner with the NDP.
This makes voting a challenge at the local level. Whistler, and indeed the Sea to Sky corridor, needs movement on some key issues including climate change, the lack of qualified labour and the Temporary Foreign Worker issue, the removal of visa restrictions for certain countries including Mexico, and adjustment to the uneven playing field for air travel to Canada, to mention a few.
Add to this national issues of concern, such as Bill C-51, the muzzling of scientists, the perceived breakdown of democracy under Harper, and the scrapping of the longform census and there is much to consider before Oct.19.
The economy is top of mind for most voters as well, with duelling experts filling up media both traditional and social with competing views of Canada's position and performance under the Conservatives.
"For seven of the 16 indicators, the Harper Conservatives ranked or tied last among all postwar prime ministers; it ranked or tied second-last in another six cases," Unifor economist Jim Stanford told Maclean's Sept.26.
"Across all 16 indicators, the government's average ranking was the worst of any postwar administration — not even close to the second-worst (another Conservative, Brian Mulroney)."
In the same article economist Ian Lee of the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University said: "When we examine the job creation record — in the current era — of Canada compared to its peer group, the G7, we discover that Canada has outperformed them all (on an indexed or relative scale), with 1.3 million jobs created since the Great Recession.
"...In 2014, a major 35-year study by the Luxemburg Income Study group and the New York Times of the largest economies in the OECD, found that Canada's middle class was more prosperous than any other large economy, including the United States and Germany."
Each voter has his or her own measuring stick with which to judge government performance, and we all have to separate the "noise" from what speaks to our own values.
But what was obvious at the candidates' forum was an underlying current of sentiment by most of those in attendance that the current government was no longer acting in the best interests of voters.
Feelings ran high in the audience when questions around the dismantling of democracy by the Harper government were raised, when the Conservatives were called out for their ongoing cuts to the CBC and when the state of fisheries was raised.
Each candidate, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, Liberal, Larry Koopman, NDP, Ken Melamed, Green Party and John Weston, Conservative, were passionate as they answered question after question from the audience.
But, as with most forums of this nature, they managed to dodge many of the questions and simply stated the information they wanted to share.
That's not good enough anymore. It is time for change. It is time for Canada's politicians to truly listen to the taxpayers of this great nation.
Canadians believe that we can be economically strong, a leader in green energy, an ethical partner in trade, a nation that supports all communities from the very young to our seniors, to those who serve their country and First Nations — what we need now are political leaders who will stand with Canadians and put our priorities first.
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