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With Canadians facing a federal election, the fourth in seven years, the topic r

ising to the surface in the early days of the campaign is not what but why. You
get that response when talking with most people at the coffee shop and it’s all ov
er Twitter, Facebook and blogosphere as the a key election issue. Sad.
It’s sad because this non-issue issue plays into the hands of the Tory camp, who w
ill portray the fall of the government as a frivolous gambit by the opposition p
arties to fritter away taxpayer dollars on a reckless and needless election.
That means the Conservatives will do their best to leverage the existing anti-vo
ting malaise in this country to their advantage. The danger here is that no matt
er how much campaign debate on the real issues, healthcare for example, a signif
icant portion of the electorate will vote with their feet, i.e., pass by the pol
ling stations without casting a ballot.
It’s not just the young who don’t view voting as an effective option for change, but
the shrinking number of middle-aged Canadians who turn a deaf ear to political
debate and don’t turn up at the polls on voting day.
The right-of-centre Postmedia News and Global Network have done their best to fe
ed the voting ennui in the country and strategically support the Harper regime.
In the lead-up to the election writ, their media outlets have offered significan
t and ongoing reporting on the costs of the election and the absence of defining
issues that warrant a chance for regime change. In fairness, other media have r
eported and commented in a similar vein, but not at the same volume.
Most recently, an Ipsos Reid poll for Postmedia and the Global Network indicates
the electorate has no solidified view of the key election issues. For example,
18 percent think that healthcare is the top concern, with 15 and 12 percent resp
ectively for the economy and taxes. Unemployment came in at 8 percent as a prima
ry worry.
Interestingly, only 7 percent cited the trust factor. The online poll was conduc
ted between March 21 and 23, which was after a parliamentary committee recommend
ed the government be tagged for contempt and before the government fell on that
issue.
Unfortunately, the poll does seem to paint a true picture of the an electorate w
ith no will to vote, compounded by the absence of galvanizing issues that would
fire their energies or self-interest enough get them to exercise their democrati
c duty.
Less conservative media also report the same anti-balloting point of view.
In streeter after streeter interviews, news media are reporting the average Cana
dian, caught shopping or on the way home from work, doesn’t see why we need to go
to the polls. For them the issues trumpeted by the campaigning parties – economic
management, the possible coalition, the contempt of Parliament – don’t seem to reson
ate with Joe or Josephine double-double. What does garb them is the cost of the
election.
Elections Canada reports the 2008 federal election cost $288 million and demurs
to project the price tag for 2011. In the scheme of things, $29 billion for CF-3
5 fighter jets for example, this is not an outrageous expense. Voters will pay a
high price for their indifference or animosity toward voting, namely, more of t
he status quo.