It’s officially election season! I know, I know; you can barely contain your excitement. However, some of you may have questions about what to expect between now and Oct. 21, so I’m here to help.
Election signs are sprouting on lawns everywhere, bringing a welcome splash of colour to gardens now that summer’s flowers are beginning to fade. Which lawn sign you go with depends on a number of factors, including whether or not the colour—Tory blue, Liberal red, NDP orange, Green … well, green, and People’s Party red, white, and blue—matches your outside decor.
Occasionally you will see signs from two different candidates on the same lawn. It could signal indecisiveness, but more probably means that the people who live there have very different and decided opinions as to which party is best equipped to govern the country. This can be a helpful indication of who not to accept a dinner invitation from until the election is over, and (to be safe) for a few weeks after that.
Unlike flowers, lawn signs need very little in the way of care and feeding, although they can be vulnerable to high winds and ambitious dogs. They must be harvested no later than Oct. 22.
Election leaflets will be falling like autumn leaves. Please take the time to read them, because someone in the candidate’s office spent a lot of time crafting the perfect message, running it past two focus groups, and ending up with something completely different to what they originally wrote. Recycle the pamphlets, so that at least one indisputably good thing comes out of the election campaign.
All-candidates’ forums can be a popular form of entertainment in the run-up to the election. To make them more interesting, you can play “Election Bingo”. Simply design a card with squares containing phrases such as “moving forward”, “there is only one taxpayer”, “middle-class Canadians”, “sustainable, family-supporting jobs”, “lost the moral authority to govern”, and “hard-working families”, and tick each one off as you hear a candidate say it. You can also fill squares with “climate change”, “immigration”, “pipelines”, “Doug Ford”, and“SNC Lavalin”. A bonus square can be ticked if you have a fringe party candidate running in your riding (Communist, Libertarian, Rhinoceros, Animal—no, these last two are not the same thing—Christian Heritage, etc.).
Campaign ads have already been popping up for several months, which gives the lie to the claim that our election campaign only runs for 40 days, so stop being so smug about that when you’re talking with American friends. Officially, the campaign runs for 40 days; unofficially, it’s been running for what seems like an eternity.
The bad news is that you can expect these ads to proliferate like tribbles until the election on Oct. 21. The good news is that they only have to be endured for 40 days, so if Noah could survive 40 days on an Ark filled with animals then you can pull through. Of course, Noah didn’t have to cope with political ads, otherwise he probably would have jumped ship on day three. However, these ads can be a good time to pop to the loo, feed the cat, check out what’s in the fridge, send a couple of text messages (“So sick of campaign ads KWIM?”), and myriad other things. Multi-task like a pro!
Polling firms have been limbering up for this event for months, releasing polls showing how Canadians say they’re going to vote in an election which in many cases was still months away. Now it’s crunch time, and they’re all wondering how spectacularly off-the-mark their confident predictions about the outcome will end up being. Remember the Angus Reid, EKOS, and Mainstreet Research polls which, less than two weeks before the 2015 federal election, showed the Conservatives polling ahead of the Liberals? You do? You need a hobby. Seriously.
So there’s your handy guide to the federal election campaign. To paraphrase the immortal Margo Channing (Bette Davis) in All About Eve: Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.