Canadian Federal Election: Focused on Strategy

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  • Topic: Elections, Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada
  • Pages : 7 (2539 words )
  • Download(s) : 131
  • Published : February 2, 2013
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In Canadian federal election campaigning, everything has become focused around strategy. Questions like what will entice or sway voters, how can I ruin the oppositions image, what activity should I publicly engage in so that the general public can relate to me, are manoeuvred by professionals, who hired by campaign leaders, like pawns on a chessboard. That is precisely why unelected party consultants have become the epicentre of the party campaigns in Canadian federal elections. Where once candidate leaders depended on local, grassroots involvement, there has been a complete turnover to huge, superficial, media-focused campaigns that has driven us away from any possibility of national consensus building. Instead, efforts are concentrated on how to attract this large area of ‘flexible’ centrist partisans that exist in Canada, with whatever gimmick is necessary. Looking at the 2008 federal election, we can see strategic tactics employed by all the parties, particularly the two main ones, the Liberals and Conservatives. There are a number of reasons that can be said to have led up to this relatively new phenomenon of party leaders surrounded with a team of campaign experts. Canada’s first-past-the-post, single-member constituency electoral system can be said to dictate the parties’ campaign strategies. This campaign involves public opinion polling, the leader’s tour, debate preparation, mass media advertising, and media management.[1] Moreover, this is reason for why central parties focus less on local and more on the national campaign. Our electoral competition entails 301 separate contests, with a party needing a plurality to be declared the winner. Moreover, elections are not necessarily won by the party that has the most votes, because as far back as 1979 the federal Liberals’ share of the popular vote exceeded the Conservatives’ by almost five percent, yet the Conservatives won the election.[2] Even in 1993 and 1997 the Conservatives won a similar proportion of the vote to the Reform Party, yet the Reform Party won many more seats.[3] This can be assimilated to the argument that our voting system is another way in which tactic and strategy play in the campaigning of elections, because it shows why parties’ strategies are to appeal to ridings where they feel they can win a plurality. Since no benefit is given to a campaign that finishes second or third in a riding, it’s only rational of them to not allocate campaign resources if they know there’s a strong history of allegiance to another party, or if a certain socio-economic element tying it to a party is prevalent in that riding. This also seems to depict a sort of paradox: because if resources and campaigning is given to a particular riding, then there is probably more chance that overtime they will be able to accumulate a higher amount of supporters, but because no incentive exists for individual politicians to allocate those efforts since they do not assume to compete for very long (or even longer than that specific election). This seems to further consolidate the outcome of having strong ties and allegiances to specific parties in specific ridings. All this sums up the fact that rational voter choice is preceded by rational campaign choice, and these are influencing the way leaders and their parties are viewed by Canada’s population, but in an unfair manner that allows for sneaky tactics to have impact. With the 2008 federal election, it was a concentrated effort of all of Stephen Harper’s consultants to ask for a new election. They thought that the Liberal party leader Stephane Dion was a weak leader, and that it would be better to capitalize on him now than take a chance that he’s replaced (which subsequently happened right after the elections).[4] This embeds the fact that even though this may have occurred before, this new approach of unelected party consultants determining when it’s best to call for an election is all about appearance, and not issues....
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