And the losers of the 2004 Federal Election are................
.......the Canadian people, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper. Wanna know why? Read on.
Boy, you have to be impressed with Paul Martin. This is the man who was the brains behind one of the most successful fiscal policy runs in recent history. 6 years ago, people had him pegged as Chretien's successor and the next great Liberal leader. Now, he's fighting for his political life, using every dirty trick in the book to try to obfuscate the real issues of the election.
Sadly, nobody knew Chretien was going to exit in classic CEO fashion: everybody thinks everything's great, the old leader gets an awesome send-off into the sunset, the new leader comes in and gets to find all the crap under the front porch. Said crap is also discovered by the media and the opposition and, suddenly, the new leader is left with a bad choice: spit on the legacy of the man before or take the heat himself. Either way, he takes the hit.
Of course, Martin hasn't helped himself by taking the low road against Harper. I have yet to see this tactic work, yet it's always been used by parties who start out in the lead, only to see it evaporate the closer we get to election day.
Onto loser #2, Stephen Harper.
Remember the last minority government? The Joe Clark Tories of the early '80s. They accomplished exactly nothing in their time in office, due to Ed Broadbent's unwillingness to form a coalition. End result? Clark gave way to Brian Mulroney and the rest, as they say, is history. Hopefully, Harper can use the minority as a springboard to a majority in the next election in 6 months, which nicely leads us to....
Loser #3, the Canadian people.
Anybody who thinks the minority government we're going to get will be able to accomplish anything has, to quote Han Solo, "delusions of grandeur". Whether it's Martin or Harper, Jack Layton will NEVER buddy up with either of them. Bet your boots Gilles Duceppe won't, either. So, the new government will float along in stasis, getting in some photo ops, naming a cabinet to dress up a few folks' resumes, and acting like they're running things until.....
The first budget.
The party in power will bring down their budget, the opposition will demand a no-confidence vote, which will go against the party in power. The Speaker will immediately dissovle the House and back to the polls we will go again. I would also expect that we'll have at least one more leadership convention, too. It will be to replace the party leader who lost on June 28. All of this paid for by your sponsors, the humble Canadian taxpayer.
So, go vote on the 28th. Just be prepared to do it again in November. Frustrating, yes, but it won't be boring.