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A final hearing

This Magazine Staff

The Toronto Star today published short pieces written by four of the national leaders: Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion, Jack Layton, and Elizabeth May. There essays included specific proposals, broadsides against other leaders, and some evocative language.
Both Harper and Dion used the word “strong” in one form or another, and often. Harper used it three times, saying “Canada now has the strongest economy in the G7”; insisting on your vote because of his “strong support for families”; and concluding that he will ensure Canada remains “strong, united, independent and free.” In his first sentence, Dion asks if Canada has “grown stronger under the Harper Conservatives?”. He also litters one sentence with the word, saying: “Only the Liberal Party offers the combination of a strong record as economic managers, a strong team of experienced men and women ready to take action on Day 1, and a strong plan for Canada’s future.”
Layton surprised me when he used the word not once. But he did use another one of his catch-phrases: evoking the mythical “kitchen-table” and asserting that Harper does not care about the concerns of people who make their decisions there.
May was increadibly vague and lofty in her essay. She wrote of representative democracy’s history in North America and the moral obligation to political engagement, only mentioning her actual proposals in the penultimate paragraph. She doesn’t exactly have Barack Obama’s gift for expression, so I suggest she sticks to more concrete discussions in the future.
Harper wrote of his party’s economic prudence. He wants to convince us he can do a good job of handling the current economic situation. For that end, he criticized Dion’s carbon tax for being expensive and, therefore, very untimely. Dion, in turn, did not forget to include Harper’s comment that the economic downdraft was the right time to buy stocks, effectively painting Harper as insensitive and unprepared to handle the problem. Naturally, Layton criticized Harper, but he also had some words for Dion. He called the carbon tax unfair and pointed out the fact that Dion voted along with the Conservatives 43 times as Opposition leader. Layton wants us to believe that he, unlike Dion, can truly fulfill the obligations of the official Opposition party’s leader. If not the government’s leader.
And that’s what we all want to know. Who will best fulfill the role of Prime Minister today? We will not have a conclusive answer to that question anytime soon, but we will know who the nation elected to be Prime Minister by the end of this evening.

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