As the voting day approaches, we are witnessing a stepped up effort in the campaign by the leaders of all three major parties while the number of gaffes and mishaps also rises.
Most political pundits believe as the live TV debates get more frequent, the leader with the least number of gaffes and errors in their debate performances will reap the most benefit and may have the chance to break the stalemate in the polls to gain the upper hand.
For the moment, NDP appears to have suffered some, maybe more than some, erosion of its voter support if the polls are to be believed, mainly due to a loss in Quebec of its support because of Tom Mulcair’s stance on the niqab issue, contradicting the strong tendency in the province for a general ban of niqab.
Liberals and their leader Justin Trudeau seem to be gaining ground with the young Trudeau’s aggressive debating style appearing more and more effective in shutting up his opponents.
It’s the Conservative leader Stephen Harper, however, who appears to be the wildcard of the campaign as he still enigmatically maintains his support base despite all his gaffes since the beginning of the campaign.
The Conservative leader’s every move seemed to lead to a dead end at some point: He tried to associate his image with youth by trying to engage with Boy Scouts, he was rebuffed. Then he changed his campaign manager who signed up another blunder by trying to make political capital out of this country’s single most beloved figure and hero Terry Fox by donating unwanted money to the foundation named after him.
And then, after inviting Philippines president and Indian prime minister to Canada for official visits and appearing with them in public meetings and on TV screens just to secure the votes of the immigrant communities of these countries, by simply uttering what probably always was in the back of his mind (he practically said immigrant Canadians were different from “old stock Canadians”), he antagonized a major portion of the immigrant population.
Harper continues his campaign of fear-mongering, witness his latest move to strip a Canadian, convicted for terrorist activity, off his citizenship over the weekend, again waving the flag of terrorism threat which he appears to believe more than anybody else (how sincerely is the question) and has turned it to one of the two main pillars of campaign strategy, the other being economy.
All these campaign tactics that Harper’s entourage employ, sometimes at the expense of suffering from the boomerang effect, suggest that the Conservative leader is ready to go the extra mile for another four years in the highest political office.
OK, all politicians vie for power, and once they grab it they want to hold onto it. But why does Stephen Harper look so desperate to win this election after occupying the top government seat for almost a full decade?
Does he have a mission yet to be completed? Is there some undertaking or are there promises made to certain quarters that need to be delivered?
Let’s face it: Harper has been a prime minister more of corporate interests and conservative ideology than of Canadian citizens. From the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board to the income splitting for wealthy families, all of his major decisions served the advantaged and the rich rather than the middle class and low income sections of the population and his support base continues to cover mostly well to do sections of the society
It will be interesting to see how Canadian electorate will decide when they cast their ballots: Will they be voting in support of change as the polls suggest they will, or will they be renewing their trust in the Conservative leader for another term?
If they take the second option, the federal election in 2019 may take place in a more Americanized Canada.