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The presidential election vs. 40 days to a new government

Last week, the Prime Minister met with the Governor General to request that Parliament be dissolved and thereby, called for a federal election.  Unlike the U.S. which seems to be in permanent campaign mode with mid-terms, special elections, party nominations, and finally, presidential elections, Canada prefers the biblical 40 days and 40 nights of preparation.

So this is basically the government’s season of Lent.  Ironically, while we’ll be voting for the most powerful man in Canada, we do not see our national leader as “the Second Coming” like the one south of our border.

In fact, with Parliament dissolved, our leader isn’t really leading anything.  Sure, Trudeau still represents our country internationally.  He still has an official role.  However, he’s not really supposed to do anything.

More importantly, you’ll notice the media is no longer calling him “Prime Minister Trudeau.”  Instead, he’s mostly referred to as the “Liberal leader.”

This party affiliation title is done to avoid giving an advantage to any of the incumbents while they campaign for votes.  Of course, if Trudeau is performing an official role, he will be identified as the Prime Minister.  But with Parliament dissolved, those duties are curtailed.  Hence, “Liberal Leader Trudeau.”

This would not sit well in the U.S.  No, there the president is the president until the voters say he isn’t.  And that one in particular – who is still re-living his nearly three-year-old election win – would not take well to the media stripping him of his title – even temporarily.

Of course, in Canada we know the title change is just a superficial nod to equality for all the candidates.  And there are a lot of candidates.  While the U.S. deals with two parties and the occasional write-in individual with more hutzpah than common sense, in Canada we’ve got multiple parties vying for your vote.

Fortunately, 40 days isn’t enough time for the campaigns to get really, truly ugly.  But it is enough to spend millions of advertising dollars to get the most votes.

Yes, unlike the U.S. which has strangely drawn political districts that manipulate the poling numbers and an Electoral College that assumes it understands the voters’ intentions but ignores their ballots, Canada keeps its elections “simple.”  Whoever gets the most votes wins.  Yay democracy!

However, you’re not voting for the Prime Minister, per se.  You’re voting for your local candidate who is guaranteed NOT to have the same advertising budget as the party leader.

Which means you need to get to know the smaller players in your riding.  You also need to know your riding.  And in Thunder Bay, there are two possibilities.  So locally, there are eleven candidates promoting themselves with a limited budget at any one time.  Looks like voters have a lot of homework to do.

Luckily, with this fabulous 40-day plan, you too could have a brand new leader!

Then we can all go back to grumbling about the government and how nothing changes for another four years.