As the current Victoria by-election campaign drifts to a foregone conclusion, I feel as if I’ve been watching a gender-altered sequel to The Stepford Wives.
The Pillsbury Men, shot on location at the University of Victoria, comes with a warning: you must follow the script closely because the cast is all John Doughs.
Here are the four principal players in order of appearance: Murray Rankin, lawyer, UVic, NDP; Donald Galloway, lawyer, UVic, Green; Paul Summerville, business, UVic, Liberal, and Dale Gann, business, UVic, Conservatives.
Really folks, is this how you build on three solid terms of parliamentary stewardship invested on your behalf by retiring MP Denise Savoie? Is this what passes for diversity and political texture in the community?
In a multi-grain world, Victoria voters are picking through a loaf of Wonder Bread and popping the whitest slice in the political toaster.
With the vote just days away, opinion polling suggests that electors don’t really need to be able to tell the actors apart. They are opting for the status quo and that entails a robust rejection of the distant and indifferent government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
A Forum Research survey has given the NDP a commanding 46-per-cent lead. This respects the fact that Savoie had been securing increasing shares of the popular vote in the last three elections going from 38 per cent in 2006, to 44 in 2008, to 50 per cent in 2011.
The Greens are a distant second with 20 per cent, but even this showing is meaningless. At least half of that 20 per cent is anti-Harper sentiment. The Green Party is a spent force nationally and even the proximity of Green MP Elizabeth May is irrelevant. Liberal support is wallowing at 14 per cent and not even the prospect of an era of neo-Trudeaumania will change that.
The really good news is that only 12 per cent of Victoria voters are still prepared to vote Conservative in keeping with their party’s brass, who discounted the outcome from the day the series of byelections were announced.
“Majority governments don’t win by-elections,” Conservative party spokesman Fred DeLorey said back in October. “Our candidates will be contrasting the strong economic record of Prime Minister Stephen Harper with the dangerous economic policies of (NDP leader) Thomas Mulcair,” DeLorey said. He added that these elections would be “for the opposition to lose.”
Happily, there is little chance of that happening here in Victoria.
There is a reason why one in four Canadians thinks Harper is the worst prime minister we have endured in 45 years. There is also a reason why only 16 per cent of Canadians trust their prime minister, putting Harper near the bottom of a list of 26 leaders (some despots) in the Americas.
Apparently, the vast majority of Victoria voters share these sentiments and that makes the disappointment of a Pillsbury bland byelection bearable.
When she announced her retirement, Savoie talked about the changes occurring in Canada under the Harper Conservatives. “Many of you have told me you no longer recognize Canada as a voice for peace, justice and sustainability in the world,” she said. “Many have wondered what can be done to stop a majority government. The key is to work for the change we want. An informed and engaged electorate is unbeatable.”
Words to live by. Thank you Denise. M