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Author Margaret Atwood meets with members of The Globe and Mail's editorial board to talk about culture and upcoming federal election. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Author Margaret Atwood meets with members of The Globe and Mail's editorial board to talk about culture and upcoming federal election. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

At the editorial board

Margaret Atwood, uncensored Add to ...

Now you can always mess that up by putting at the head of it, whose your guy, who will give out money to people you like, and who will support your stuff. And therefore the porridge pot is always being stirred from underneath, and as soon as you have a kind of accepted, official type of art in a free society, young artists are going to come along and do something quite different. And put up videos like ShitHarperDid, which was put out by artists, who in a real dictatorship would be either dead or in jail.

Mr. Geiger: The Prime Minister is permitting five questions from the media to be asked each day in this campaign. One is reserved for local media, and the other four are for national media. I was wondering, if you were a member of the national media, what would you ask Mr. Harper?

Ms. Atwood: Why did you lie? But I think they vet the questions ahead of time. The questions have to be pre-approved.

Mr. Geiger: Well, I'm not sure [of that]/i>

Ms. Atwood: Yeah, well, again. Limiting access. You know as a member of the media, that if you ask a really outrageous question, you will not be welcome here and your badge will be ripped up. You won't get in. He's not alone. Bush did that. A lot of people have done that. They've always tried to control the more pie-in-the-paste kind of questions.

Mr. Geiger: A person who is listening to this and shares your views, your concerns, and I guess your apprehensions. They should vote. Where should they vote? Does it come down to a strategic vote then? Is he the only target of that strategic vote? Is there really an alternative?

Ms. Atwood: I think it depends on what riding you're in. But certainly there's strategic voting initiatives well underway.

he thing about voting for any party is that if a person is a member of that party, there's always a certain amount of party discipline. So you may think you're voting for an individual because they're a great guy - they like bowling and you like bowling - but you're voting for the party. And if it's a party that doesn't allow its individual members much say, you're voting for the head of the party.

Mr. Fine: a lot of people see a lot of what you're talking about. Then they have Michael Ignatieff there.

Ms. Atwood: And Jack [Layton]

Mr. Fine: And Jack's there. Ignatieff is improved, he's confident, he's more comfortable. he knows the country better. Platform hasn't been bad. He's had very little traction for the Liberals. Wondering how you perceive Ignatieff and the Liberals and their difficulties getting ahead?

Ms. Atwood: I think they are suffering from the same thing the Conservatives suffered from when they were reduced to two. That somebody's been in for quite a while and they've done this and that. And with Mulroney it was a number of things that people didn't like that are still with us today: They would include the GST, free trade and the attempt to re-do the Constitution, which as we all know went belly-up.

So people then turn against that person, who they had in fact voted for overwhelmingly. And the real question is, have we had enough of the Harper style of government, and in that case, it is not a question of whether you love the other person and think they are the best, you think you will give then a try because the other guy is about to drive your bus off of a cliff. So I think it's true that governments are unelected, rather than elected.

So the question is, do you think you would allow this person to test-drive the car. Not have the car, but test-drive the car, that would be a minority government.

So Harper has been given three chances to test-drive the car and he acts as if he owns the car, deserves the car. Have people had enough of that? That would be the question. Is it time to let somebody else test drive the car, and maybe tell you what they are actually going to spend and tell you what they are doing.

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