If you had asked me a week ago what I thought about bird shit, it would’ve been a quick conversation: not much. This week, I might have to put it in my top ten list of amusing diversions, thanks to the Harper Conservatives’ hilarious attack ad featuring a now infamous puffin taking a shit on Liberal leader Stéphane Dion. Who knew puffins would take on such a starring role in Canadian politics?
There is, of course, an expectation that elections will turn personal at some point. After all, who among us really cares about platforms and policies? It’s much more interesting to hear about the failings of our leaders than about Green Shifts, arts cuts, and arctic sovereignty. And we all know that attracting bird shit is a pretty awful quality for a would-be Prime Minister to have. Imagine, Dion actually standing there and allowing a bird to defecate directly onto his suit! Can this man be trusted? Can he lead us during these troubled times? If Dion is soft on birds, won’t he be soft on crime and terrorism as well? The implications are very serious indeed.
These questions had to be raised at some point, and God bless the Conservatives for raising them early. Otherwise, we would have been subjected to weeks of awful debates about how to deal with climate change (will carbon taxes really work?) and promoting small businesses. Capital-B BORING!
Of course, the Liberals are also doing a pretty good job at avoiding these boring issues. And with the help of the NDP, we were able to spend a whole week fretting over whether Elizabeth May would be allowed to debate with the boys—riveting!
Though we might be outnumbered, there are those of us who value old-fashioned boring Canadian elections. There are those who are concerned that, less than a week into the campaign, the papers have been filled with meaningless diversions. There are those who are keen to know what might happen to reduce hospital wait times, help control gun-related crime, and yes, lessen carbon emissions. In short, some want to know about the issues.
Perhaps Canadian elections are turning into American elections, where the most important questions are not about the economy, but about the identity of Bristol Palin’s baby daddy.
There’s hope yet that the parties will have something to say about the issues confronting Canadians. There is still time to raise the stakes, however boring that might be. It is possible that matters of substance will consume the rest of this campaign and that the puffin will be forgotten.
The question is, will anyone still be listening?