Since Easter weekend, when record-breaking numbers of voters took to advance polls, election fever has gripped this country from coast to coast. I can’t remember a more exciting campaign, nor a time when the Liberal and NDP parties have ever changed places in a mere five weeks (according to pollsters, anyway). The surge in NDP support has left political commentators breathless: could Jack Layton’s NDP become the official Opposition party? The Toronto Star endorsed Layton as Prime Minister, but urged Canadians to vote strategically to prevent a Harper majority. The Globe and Mail, rather characteristically, endorsed Stephen Harper…and went so far as to call this “an unremarkable and disappointing election campaign”!
The polls have been fluctuating wildly in the past week, leaving the outcome undecided: will the NDP grab seats in BC, as the polls suggest? Both Harper and Layton ended their campaigns in Vancouver this week: we’re home to several key ridings like Burnaby-Douglas, Vancouver Centre, Newton-North Delta, and Surrey North. Will waning Liberal support lead to Conservative wins in key ridings? Will the Quebecois shift their support from the Bloc to the NDP in ridings like Gatineau? How exactly will the NDP surge play out in terms of number of seats? The media are also trying to decipher the significance of youth turnout encouraged by vote mobs (see my last post: this picture is from today’s vote mob in my hometown of London, Ontario which gathered over 1500 people. London, you may recall, is where two students were kicked out of a Conservative party rally way back at the beginning of the campaign. Organizers say London’s was the biggest vote mob of the year.)
Is this election campaign best summarized by the Globe and Mail‘s headline, “Federal elections a tight race between boredom and hope” (April 29, 2011)? Or has this “unnecessary election” changed Canada for the better? (May 1, 2011) The youngest voters and NDP supporters are hoping for change across this great country, and at this point it looks like there is no hope of a Harper majority. My hope: that the 35% increase at advance polls signals high voter turnout on May 2nd…and that Harper is not re-elected to form a government, majority or minority. Hold on, kids, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!