Maintain a stronger election with supplements online

Wednesday, 26 May 2004 — 3:13pm

There is something different about the federal election campaign atmosphere this time around, and I don’t mean the fact that the Liberals are actually in a spot of trouble. The biggest difference is the presence of “something there that wasn’t there before,” to allude to Beauty and the Beast completely out of context: the prevalence this time around of the “blogosphere” and the sudden mobilization of Canadian Internet writers everywhere offering varying degrees of punditry about the second-most important thing happening in the country – the first, of course, being something big, silver, and three victories away. To quote Tim Louman-Gardiner, “When did the Bhulin Wall crumble? 1989. Think about it.”

The election’s effect on the Internet is inescapable; already this site is receiving hits from, say, people looking for Paul Reikie, the NDP candidate for Edmonton Beaumont, who has been mentioned before on this site in relation to his stint on Students’ Council. He is not the only name from Alberta student politics running for Parliament; the other one, as most of this weblog’s readership should already be aware, is former CAUS Executive Director Melanee Thomas, who is running as the NDP candidate in Lethbridge, the same riding where former provincial Liberal leader Ken Nicol is going federal. While on the subject of just how creepy it is to either know or know people who know candidates running in this election via entirely non-political circumstances, one cannot forget Wascana’s very own Erin Weir.

However, this is where I disappoint you all by saying that the amount of political talk that will go on here will be minimal, aside from some coverage of the happenings in my home riding of Calgary Nose Hill, in which I do not to my knowledge recall having a readership. The real fun is happening over at Points of Information, where some Hack Club 7 alumni and others are reveling in a thirty-six day windfall of big fish to fry. Now that’s a political party if I ever saw one.

As far as said Calgary Nose Hill goes, here’s the lineup: Diane Ablonczy returns for the newly and bitterly pepperminted Conservative Party of Canada, while Ted Haney challenges her from the Liberal end of things, alongside also-rans-in-the-making Vinay Dey (NDP) and Richard Lawson (Green Party).

The campaigning has all the rip-roaring intensity of a Jane Austen thriller. Ablonczy’s name is appearing in small print on a few lampposts down Edgemont Boulevard, and her website seems oblivious to the fact that there’s even an election going on; it seems like her team is rightly expecting this to be a walkover. Haney, on the other hand, has signs… on lawns. Maybe I’m expecting a bit much given that we are only half a week into campaigning, but considering how already higher-profile candidates in neighbouring ridings are coming out guns blazing – I refer specifically to Jim Prentice here, whose pulling-out-stops-to-necessity ratio is the greatest I’ve seen since Tyler Botten spent his entire allotted budget on an unopposed run for Students’ Union VP Operations/Finance – could things not be just a tad bit more exciting?

Ted Haney, of course, does have a campaign website up and running – and right off the bat, one can tell that he’s quite the enigma. The President of the Canadian Beef Export Federation and someone who obviously has a background in issues such as the whole “shoot, shovel and shut up” BSE fiasco with that one poor cow last year, the real question – upon a perusal of his stance on most of the major issues – is why in the blazes he’s running for the Liberals. I’m not sure what he’s getting at with his support of accessible and universal “heath care”, either. That sounds more like something the Green Party would say.

Of course, he’s not the only source of confusion between the new Conservatives and Team Martin. One look at TeamMartinSaid.ca poses a matter of much curiosity: is it just me, or are the Conservatives trying to slam the Liberals for acting like Conservatives? If the quotations there are meant to be taken negatively (and honestly, I can’t see what’s so controversial about Paul Martin once saying, “I don’t think there is any doubt about just how evil Saddam Hussein is”), is this campaign not self-defeating and counterproductive?

But that’s stepping out of bounds. After all, I’m not going to talk about politics, right? Right?

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