The poor Canadian voter, shut out of the action for going on five years now, is due for a shock in 1993. There is this frustration with government, and the eagerness to do something about it. There is the lustful glee about the prospects of punishing Brian Mulroney at the ballot box. The voters can’t wait.
We are here to disabuse the voter. Nothing but remorse and confusion awaits in the coming year after the election. There will be screams of rage and muffled sobs from the electorate. They ain’t going to be happy.
Allan Gregg does not tell a lie. The guy with the wonderful voice and the goofy clothes does the sophisticated polling for Brian’s boys. His Decima Research has told the Prime Minister of the land that their projections show that the Tories could stay in power, as a minority government, with as little as 28 per cent of the vote in the 1993 election.
Allan Gregg does not spoof. His computers are not allowed to fib. Because there will be five parties on the ballot—with Mel Hurtig’s aborning National Party an alleged sixth—there are more permutations and combinations than in a math class. An Italian-like parliament, an Israeli-like melee, will emerge like some five-legged dog.
The basis behind Gregg’s figuring has been apparent for some time. Lucien Bouchard is talking about his Bloc Québécois taking 65 seats in that province, which is entirely possible. But in a hung parliament, the only party he could possibly support would be one led by a prime minister from Quebec. That would be Martin Brian Mulroney.
Presto! Manning and his Reform disciples are further right than the Tories. The only party they could support are the Conservatives. On the other side of the political spectrum, the only people the NDP could support are the Liberals. In a coalition situation, the only group the Liberals could support are the NDP.
It’s simple arithmetic—three against two with the prospects of all parties getting around 50 or so seats each. (And Mel Hurtig with his
rump holding the balance of power? The country at his feet! What a wonderful zoo, tailormade for a columnist who enjoys chaos.)
The confusion that awaits the astonished voter is quite apparent in the telephone banks and computer printouts down at Decima Research. You don’t even need Allan Gregg to tell you that Jean Chrétien, with his wrestling matches with the language, is not setting the heather aflame. Nor that Audrey McLaughlin is not exciting even loyal hemi-demi-socialists.
Nobody is excited about anybody, with the exception of Bouchard in Quebec and Presto! in Alberta. The polls even indicated—horrors—that the number of Canadian voters who absolutely detest Mulroney has been cut in half.
So what we’re going to see in our next Parliament is something resembling the bazaar on the sidewalks of Cairo. Manning will be manufacturing, rather like at a quilting bee, a
Triple-E Senate as the expense of his support to keep the Mulroney minority government afloat and the Tories will promise him that under equal opportunity each third senator must own a plow and have grown turnips in his back forty.
The Blocheads will demand that they have their own separate Parliamentary Dining Room and Brian will comply, stocking it with maple syrup and stuffed dolls in the image of René Lévesque. In return, they will give him their support for the proposed legislation allowing deposed prime ministers safe departure from the country in case of a coup.
On the other side of the House of Commons—Mel Hurtig appearing nightly on Prime Time News, Pam Wallin giving him advice on his hairstylist—Chrétien and Audrey will be appearing to give each other mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, so often are they seen whispering tactics to each other. Svend Robinson and Lloyd Axworthy will be spotted having furtive strategy sessions in Hull restaurants late at night, while Ian Waddell and Sheila Copps go riding motorcycles in the Gatineau hills to demonstrate party solidarity. Both look wonderful in leather.
Canadians will grow accustomed to regular fistfights on the evening news, the violence during Question Period cutting into the ratings for Hockey Night in Canada. Paul Martin will appear, bloodied, on Newsworld, telling the nation how he was coldcocked by a burly rancher from Red Deer who is Manning’s social responsibility critic.
The Globe and Mail will keep a running count of the knockdowns and a regular feature of the paper will be a box score, updated each week, of how many right hooks, how many uppercuts, how many head butts have been dealt by how many parties. And that doesn’t even include Kim Campbell, who will be recruited by World Wrestling Federation and given Saturday afternoon exposure.
Canadians, at first in despair at what their 1993 voting hath wrought, will eventually glow with pride at the evidence that our politicians can outdo the denizens of Japan’s Diet, of Israel’s Knesset, in knees to the groin and fists in the teeth.
Bob Probert will be sought as an MP and Eric Lindros offered a cabinet post. It will be extremely entertaining and voters will recall in wonderment how they ever put up with pristine but dull fellows like Mike Pearson and Bob Stanfield. Eugene Whelan will be regarded as a dodo and John Crosbie as a boring mumbler.
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