|Prime Minister Stephen Harper Sunday night|
|The lobby of the Ignatieff town hall event|
Well it’s been a bit since I did the federal election dance. Ten years about. This weekend I found myself dancing again as two of the leaders of Canada’s federal parties swung through town. It was a most unexpected weekend. I started Thursday with the Ignatieff town hall. Michael Ignatieff, Harvard graduate and well known genius, packed the Best Western Lamplighter Inn. Here was a Liberal leader shrugged off as pretty much unelectable a couple of years ago. And yet the polls have started to indicate maybe more people are seeing him in a new light. His event was organized, democratic and relatively savvy. He surprised me entirely with his intelligent answers. I knew he was smart on paper. But smart in person is an entirely different ball game. He talked a National Food Strategy and Child Care and Post Secondary Education. He didn’t stoop and didn’t pander and answered questions with a typical sort of I want to restore decorum to Canada’s Parliamentary System. Campaign gaining steam and a platform released on Sunday. Crafting a campaign out of Harper’s resistance to openness. Fast Forward to Sunday night as Harper’s motorcade rode into town. Wellington Street outside The Four Points Sheraton was lined with protesters. RCMP, drug dogs, a battalion of volunteers and another packed house. But what was this? Everybody who didn’t register must show identification. People being turned away. Even longtime PC supporters sent packing if they forgot their identification and hadn’t registered. Now that’s new. A local photographer joked that he was waiting for the cavity search. This event was managed to the last second. I tried to slip into the event as Joe Citizen and was asked to wear a Rah Rah Harper sticker. At which point I told them I didn’t wish to because I was writing about the event and it would be utterly inappropriate. Then was told I must report to media table and prove my media-worthiness or some other silliness. So I hunted for a business card and much ado about whether bloggers were allowed in or not. And freelancers? Humm.. Some media aide disappeared and mysteriously checked credentials from afar. Anyways 10 tweets later about the ridiculousness of it all and eventually I got into the rally. Had to also indicate my affiliation with http://www.ourlondon.ca/ before I was let in. The speech was short – I was told PM Harper would hold to 20 minutes and he’d already answered his five questions a day so no questions for, or from, anyone. Truly unheard of, especially in light of the protesters out front asking for answers on whether the feds will grant funding to Diamond Aircraft Ltd., a local aircraft manufacturer seeking to expand, but forced to layoff 213 jobs recently. Inside Harper’s rally the word Coalition was noted multiple times and there was mention of the children’s fitness tax credit being doubled – if we can balance the budget – and also an adult fitness tax credit. It’s all on his web site. Much of his talk was carefully aimed slings and barbs about the tax and spend Liberals. Not very inventive. No campaign to be seen yet really and no platform either. I’ll be honest, entirely with you. I am very much undecided in this election. I covered these events years ago as a paid staffer at a couple different newspapers. Oh it was interesting and scary and exhausting. Back then I voted by party. I tried to be unbiased in my reporting. Truthfully, I didn’t always succeed. Today I am a parent and a person who, at the end of the day, really wants to know where everyone stands on my issues. That will inform my vote this year. I am a wee bit pissed at the amount of money spent on an election. Especially because I see some massive needs in this country with repect to child welfare and special needs issues and seniors and health. The $300 million could be plugging a lot of holes there frankly. I am not on the bus. I am not on the campaign jet. Just the digital trail. But I gotta say so far this looks like a kickass fun ride from my seats.
For more of my coverage of the 2011 federal election visit OurLondon.ca.