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by Zach Fleisher April 7, 2011


[Editor's note; Zach Fleisher is a  student at University of Winnipeg. His first article providing political analysis published  in the Winnipeg Jewish Review last June was referred to last month  in the  Globe and Mail. To read about this, click here:

To read the complete article written by Zach Fleisher in June 2010 referred to in the Globe and Mail entitled SWITCHING SIDES: THE SHIFT IN JEWISH POLITICAL SUPPORT IN CANADA, click here: ]



by Zach Fleisher
      As many citizens of this great country may have noticed, Canada has been thrust into an election that no one really claims to want. Both the governing Conservatives and the opposition parties have been trading shots at each other claiming that it was the other side that brought the government down. The reality is truly a mix of these two statements; the governing Conservatives were high in the polls come budget time, and they thought that their long quest for a majority government might be finally fulfilled this time around. As well, the opposition parties did vote against the budget, but the truth was that their demands weren’t met within the budget.  Clearlt, both the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois had decided in advance to vote against the unrealistic budget, leaving Jack Layton of the NDP the only leader willing to get into bed with Stephen Harper, a venture that proved unsuccessful for both parties. As well, some pundits had speculated that Layton, suffering from cancer and a hairline hip fracture, was actually quite willing to negotiate with the Prime Minister in order to keep the government from falling. On top of this all, the government had also been found in contempt, a historic first in Commonwealth countries, as they failed to reveal the costs of proposed fighter jet and prison improvements to the opposition.
            Throughout the build up to the campaign, there had been reports from political insiders that this campaign had the potential to be the last for any of the four main party leaders. Stephen Harper has failed to get a majority government in four tries as leader, Ignatieff had failed to raise his party’s fortunes back to their glory days, Jack Layton has yet to capitalize on weak Liberal opposition during his time in parliament and Gilles Duceppe is frequently mentioned as a potential leadership candidate for the surging Parti Quebecois. All of the leaders are sitting on the hot seat, a phenomena not seen in a very long time in Canadian politics.
            Throughout the first week, it was quite clear that the Liberals had the momentum, as they were able to announce several large platform flanks within the first days of the campaign. In this time, they have revealed plans for seniors, innovative education strategies and new ideas regarding veterans as well as plans for the struggling middle class. During a recent rally and event at the Franco Manitoban Centre, Ignatieff was able to competently take unscreened questions from the crowd, and discussed how a Liberal government would be much more open and accountable then the current government. This style was a stark contrast to Harper’s approach of limiting the media to five questions daily and screening participants in public rally’s via their Facebook pages.
When I  attended the Ignatieff rally, I felt a buzz in the crowd that I had not felt when seeing other politicians of all stripes, including  Ignatieff’s earlier appearance last year at the University of Manitoba. Ignatieff was able to calmly answer questions on a variety of topics, from residential schools to genetic research funding. He was able to connect with the packed auditorium, as 750 people hung onto his every word. The ability to drive home this idea of open communication regarding government and politics will likely continue to be an issue in this exciting campaign.
Also of note is the relative disappearance of the New Democrats from the campaign. Like the 2008 election, the party is prepared to spend the maximum allowed by Elections Canada on their campaign. However, the party has been mostly invisible on most forms of media. There are two possible reasons for this. Firstly, it is quite possible that Jack Layton is seriously ill, and still in significant amounts of pain from his illness and injury. It is conceivable that Layton is actually unable to run a full campaign, and may have seriously looked at budget negotiations as a way to get out of running through the demanding rigours of a campaign. It will be interesting to see how Layton’s health continues to affect his campaigning, and if it turns into the NDP’s potential electoral demise.
The second theory floating around out there is at the NDP is simply being over taken by the Liberals. Several analysts immediately painted the Liberal’s campaign platform (especially the platform as a whole) as very Trudeau like. From this point of view, that means that the Liberals have shifted from a centrist party to becoming a party representing social liberalistic values. This pushes the party’s ideology much closer to the NDP, and many NDP voters may strategically vote Liberal because their ideas are similar and it may help prevent a Conservative majority.
This is going to be a very good campaign to follow. Not only are there a multitude of issues to be discussed,   it also seems as though no one party has a distinct advantage on any of the issues. For example, the Liberals seem to be strong on social issues this time around, while the Conservatives  once again seem to be very prominent on the notion that they are the best managers for the economy. In addition to all of this, it is extremely interesting to see all major politicians utilizing social media, like Facebook and Twitter in order to reach out to non-traditional voters. Undoubtedly, this campaign is going to be one of the best in recent memory, and I encourage everyone, regardless of political colour or ideology to follow it closely and to cast a ballot on Election Day.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.