As the 2012 Alberta election campaign moves through its final 24 hours this Sabbath day, all party leaders are hard at work, a stoning offence in Old Testament times but apparently not even a political molehill to be climbed here in Bible Belt Alberta, notwithstanding the fundamentalist frothing on certain other Biblical commands that have rattled this short and nasty campaign.
Unsurprisingly, media reports last night tended to focus less on today’s violations of the Fourth Commandment and more on the final moments of each major party’s campaign. This is an inevitable if not very informative journalistic tradition, since, like hockey players before a big game, politicians all tend to say the same things before a big election.
Here were the Postmedia News campaign-closer offerings yesterday: “Smith visits crucial ridings to drum up support,” “Chow revs up Mason’s campaign,” “Sherman capitalizes on Tory Broken Promises,” and, I’m not making this up, “Redford having fun in final stretch.”
As to that last point, I don’t think so!
In case you’ve just stepped off an interstellar Greyhound from Alpha Centauri, AB, and are wondering which Smith is visiting those crucial ridings (Joseph?) and what kind of chow was revving up the NDP’s campaign, the traditional journalistic parenthetical explanations would be as follows: (Wildrose Party Leader Danielle), (Trinity-Spadina NDP MP Olivia) and (NDP Leader Brian), (Liberal Leader Raj), and (faltering Progressive Conservative Premier Alison).
Sorry about that, but if you were trained as I was, back in the days when newspapers still offered a viable career, you just have to do that!
The “upstart Wildrose party,” as the new journalistic cliché goes, continued its persecution narrative to the campaign’s very end, issuing a press release yesterday whining that “Wildrose Voters Subjected to Dirty Tricks By Opponents” and complaining about “unethical behaviour on the part of our opponents” including push polls by Ms. Redford’s PC Party and the Alberta Federation of Labour.
The former, complained the Wildrose release, gave “false and misleading statements about the Wildrose,” while the latter was “designed to mischaracterize Wildrose positions.”
Well, far be it from me to defend push polling or for that matter the preposterous suggestion the lavishly funded and Harper-Conservative-advised Wildrose Party is some mere upstart, but the sheer brass of this organization surely deserves our admiration.
After all, it was the Wildrose Party that started off this campaign back in early February with a push poll containing false and misleading statements about the government designed to mischaracterize its positions and attack its key players.
But then, as Wildrose campaign manager Tom Flanagan well knows, 80 days may be long enough to imagine racing around the world in 1872 but it’s too darn long to expect Alberta’s voters, particularly those ones who are paid to report on the campaign for the media, to remember that the accusers were just up to the same tricks as the folks they are now accusing.
On the other hand, there was very little speculation about what ought to be the elephant in the room of this particular Alberta election: What happens if there’s a minority tomorrow and the No. 2 party tries to form a coalition with one of more of the other parties in the Legislature?
This is fair play within our Parliamentary system, although that fact is not well understood by an electorate raised on American TV and more than four decades of elections that were nothing more than pro forma coronations of serial PC governments.
Presumably, given this, the outrage would be palpable, if not hysterical. Should something as exciting as this possibility unfold, we will all need to leave our unregistered firearms locked in our Quonset huts and remember that what happens tomorrow is not a great big American-style presidential election in which we all participate, but 87 individual, separate and distinct constituency elections.
After the dust has settled tomorrow night, it’s up to those 87 victors to get together and figure out what to do next. Are you ready for that?
This post also appears on Rabble.ca.