At some point, enough is enough
Canadians do not want an election.
Almost no one, anywhere, seems to be willing to argue against this evident point.
When Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff recently announced his intention to defeat the government on a non-confidence motion and send Canadians back to the polls -- hopefully to elect a Liberal government. Canadian voters responded distinctly, as Ignatieff's polling numbers took a dive.
Liberal whip Roger Cuzner credits the dip in Ignatieff's poll numbers to his election-mongering.
"Normally going into an election, there’s about 65 per cent of Canadians who continue to say they don’t want an election," Cuzner explained. "That’s historically. Now it’s a little bit higher. It’s about 70 per cent. That’s probably being reflected. He’s being seen as the guy who may be responsible for it."
The lack of desire for an election seems quite troubling to Ottawa Citizen columnist William Watson.
"What is it about elections we dislike so much?" Watson asked. "After all, our parents and grandparents fought in a world war in which thousands of them died so that we could keep having elections. To be picky, maybe we fought so that Frenchmen, Britons, Norwegians, Dutchmen, and so on could keep having elections."
"It also probably bothers many Canadians that while the election is on they feel obliged either to pay attention to what's going on in their democracy or feel guilty about shirking their democratic duty," Watson continues. "But there's the bit I don't understand. It's not really a duty. It's a great opportunity. This is the one chance we get, not to decide things -- we're not yet so democratic that citizens actually get to decide things -- but to decide who gets to decide. How is it that people don't want to exercise that power as often as possible?"
Watson is certainly right about one thing: an election is a valuable opportunity to discuss the important issues and weigh our political leaders' stance on them.
But at a certain point, Canadians want their elected decision makers to actually make a few decisions before sending them back to the polls.
There's something very troubling about opposition politicians treating sending Canadians back to the polls as a matter of due course. When Canadians have been taking measure of the current political situation in Ottawa, they simply do not see the same urgent need for an election that Michael Ignatieff claims to.
In any government it should take a serious matter of confidence to spark the defeat of the government. To repeatedly send voters back to the polls demonstrates a distinct lack of respect for the electorate that many voters simply cannot swallow.
At some point Canadians want their politicians to stop running for election, and start doing the nation's business.
It isn't that much to ask.
Fortunately, the current Conservative government could last for a long time, so long as Conservative Senator Mike Duffy hasn't missed his mark.
"There are at least four chances for the Opposition to defeat the government in the next month," he explained. "And I think, given the public mood, I predict that that will not happen."
"I think after three or four times, everybody will relax and say, well, here we are," Duffy added. "So I think potentially, if it doesn’t happen next month, I think we’re looking at next spring, unless an odd development occurs in the province of Quebec that would turn off the Bloc."
So Canadian voters can sleep a little more soundly knowing they don't have to go back to the polls for the fourth time in five years. William Watson, it seems, may not sleep quite so soundly.