Politics

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Fred Chartrand/AP
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Snap Elections in Canada Might Head Off Voters’ Future Economic Worries

September 09, 2008 10:48 AM
by Emily Coakley
Canada’s prime minister has set parliamentary elections for Oct. 14, the third government election in four years.

Election Nearly a Year Earlier Than Planned

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Canada’s parliament will be dissolved and reformed all before Americans vote on their leaders in November. Prime Minister Stephen Harper set the elections for Oct. 14, reports Voice of America. The House of Commons had previously passed legislation scheduling elections for October 2009, according to Xinhua, the Chinese news service.

Voice of America reports that Canadians will vote for their local members of parliament, and the party with the most seats creates the government, and the head of the winning party becomes prime minister.

Xinhua explains the prime minister called the elections, “because he sees now as the best time for his party to secure a fresh mandate, and possibly a long-coveted majority government.”

Harper’s Conservative Party has 127 seats out of 308 in the House of Commons. Not being in the majority, the party was vulnerable to no-confidence votes, Xinhua said.

Opinion & Analysis: ‘Bland election’; men vs. country

Though the elections have created a buzz in Canada, one columnist says it doesn’t compare to other foreign elections.

“The Canadian contest will have none of the flash and sizzle of the one taking place stateside, where a black man and a hockey mom are on different tickets and Americans confront huge choices on deficit financing and geopolitical strategy,” wrote Barbara Yaffe in the Vancouver Sun.

“In the end, the election will be all about settling partisan battles in the Commons, very little about setting a new course for Canadians,” Yaffe said.

But James Travers of the Toronto Star argues the election isn’t about the men, but Canada itself.

“The direction is clear, as is the choice facing voters,” Travers wrote. “They can opt for more of the same and Canada will accelerate along the path now leading it away from much of what defined it for most of the last century. Or they can force the pendulum back toward the centre.”

The Conservatives, Travers said, are “making a loose federation even looser. It favours military solutions over diplomacy, beliefs over science and wedge politics over consensus.”

Rex Murphy, writing in the Globe and Mail, said the Conservative Party is going to try to make the campaign a question of whether Harper or Stephane Dion, leader of the Liberal Party, would be a better leader for the country.

“Which, and I’m not being flip, is bad news for Mr. Dion. [A]side from the two-day glow when he entered (on a Green carpet) the Liberal leadership convention, he’s flatlined as champion of the party he leads,” Young wrote.

Xinhua said Harper had to call the elections now before America’s slow economy drags down Canada.

“An election campaign next year would be a nightmare for Harper because crabby voters tend to blame the sitting government for the bad economy and punish it by their ballots,” according to Xinhua.

In a roundup of foreign reaction to the elections, the National Post quotes the BBC as saying: “Canada has been relatively sheltered from the economic downturn south of the border in the United States. But with both countries each other’s largest trading partners, most financial analysts say that it is only a matter of time before Canada feels the pinch.”

Related Topic: Political chaos in Japan

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