Anyone who is following the election knows that the three main parties are offering platforms that differ by a couple percentage points on this tax or a couple billion dollars on that program. They agree on far more than they disagree on. They are like rabbits arguing about where to stand on a beached whale.
They are avoiding the same issues as well. None of the main parties want to talk about climate warming or the energy revolution that is underway. The rabbits are too busy arguing to talk about which direction gets the whale off the beach.
Climate change and technology give us a map of the future. The election is being fought with a map of the past. Why?
This is not unusual in politics. Two party systems tend to collapse campaigns around the `median voter,’ the voter with 50% of the population to the left and 50% to the right. The US system is like this – two parties compete to be in the middle.
With Canada’s three large parties, the party in power tries to get as close to the middle as possible, forcing the other two to divide the remaining half. Harper tries to present his government as the center. In this election, the opposition parties have moved as close to Harper as they can without alienating their traditional bases. They are both competing for all of what used to be called the `center’ and the `left.’
One result is that Canada now has three centrist parties.
Another result is that there is no policy debate. Harper has been able to control what they talk about and what they don’t talk about. In this election they don’t talk about the really big issues. Global warming is off the table. The huge opportunity to transform the Canadian economy is off the table.
Green party policy can differ because the party is just too far from the black hole to be sucked in. The Greens do focus on the big issues, and they are right to do so. The struggle for the Greens is to open up the discussion – to pull some voters out of the black hole of Canadian politics. And to get the whale off the beach.