EDITORIAL: Why we have decided not to announce who won the election
FIVE YEARS AGO there appeared in this magazine a piece of prose that nobody will include in his collected works, but that has more chance of immortality than anything else we’ve ever printed.
It was a lament for democracy, which the editor called “no better than the rankest dictatorship” unless we make it work. And he was glumly certain we were not making it work in Canada in 1957 — why? Because “we Canadians have once more elected one of the most powerful governments ever created by the free will of a free electorate . . . (with) a mandate to resume the kindly tyranny it has exercised over parliament and people for more than twenty years.”
What promoted this dirge into a classic was the fact that it appeared the day after the Liberal government was defeated.
We’ve been wondering how best to maintain the prophetic tradition of our illustrious predecessors. It’s not easy. Prophecy in 1957 was simple — everybody knew the horrible old Liberals were going to win, even though hardly anybody could be found who intended to vote for them. This time, the crystal ball is clouded. Even the Gallup Poll,
so confidently wrong then, is now publishing only its sober second thoughts. Bets are being made at even money. We lack the climate of lugubrious certainty in which Jeremiahs thrive.
But this alone wouldn’t impede us — we’re used to being wrong. What really gives us pause is a superstitious respect for those instruments of darkness that prophets invoke. How can we know for sure just whom we’d be hexing?
Suppose, for example, we dash off a powerful piece deploring the Conservative victory. Would that mean the Liberals would win? Logic answers yes (after all, it worked the other way last time) but we feel no inner sense of assurance. Nor is it really safe to take what looks like the coward's way out, and merely congratulate the nation on preserving the two-party system. We might wake up to find Social Credit and the NDP jockeying for the balance of power.
On the whole, we feel it’s best to return to the method of the Delphic Oracle, and emit an ambiguous platitude: By the time this appears, Canadians will doubtless have the government they deserve.
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