“All of these things should remind everybody in Canada and should remind all the parties in Parliament that the global economy remains extremely fragile. It does not take very much to make us all – and not just in Canada, the United States, all around the world – to make everybody very worried about what's coming next in the economy. We've been through a difficult time. It's getting better, but it's still quite fragile. So I don't want to predict how that's going to unfold.
“I think the Japanese will find their way of coping, but the fact of the matter is this should be a wakeup that we cannot afford to take our focus off the economy and get in to a bunch of unnecessary political games or, as I said, an opportunistic and unnecessary election that nobody is asking for.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper responding to a question about whether he’s concerned that the earthquake in Japan will have on impact on the Canadian economy
Because I have difficulty accepting that my Prime Minister could be this insensitive – this “opportunistic” – I’ve been trying to imagine a world in which a prime minister using a devastating earthquake as part of his tireless quest to Y2K-ify a democratic election would be reasonable. What would that world look like? Here’s what I came up with:
1. During Canadian federal elections, neighbourhoods are canvassed by hoards of zombies. These zombies do not just put fliers through your mail slot – they zombie-knock at your door while you’re trying to make dinner. They often ask you if you have any issues that are of particular concern to you. And after inquiring about whether you’re properly registered to vote, they ask you if you need a ride to the polling station, and then they eat your brains. It’s intrusive.
2. Elections create some uncertainly about who the next leader of the country will be. This uncertainty continues up until minutes after the polls have closed, sometimes even into the next day. Stockbrokers are an exquisitely sensitive group of human beings in my imagined Canada. They fall to pieces! They stop writing poetry. Many cry for days at a time. No trading goes on in the runup to an election. If the race is tight, herds of anxious brokers will gather, stampede and fling themselves off of cliffs. The market suffers.
3. The Toronto Stock Exchange actually hovers half a mile over the city of Toronto. When the market falls, it crashes out of the sky and lands on the city and many people are crushed. Productivity is lowered, and later on the whole building needs to be hoisted back up again. This is expensive and leaves everyone short of rope. Even in this imagined world, there’s no evidence that an election actually causes the stock market to drop – but people are understandably more edgy about it.
4. In an election campaign, candidates, their staffs and the press forgo buses and airplanes during election campaigns, and ride on the backs of cats and very small children.
5. Election signs are constantly in danger of melting down.
6. Sharron Angle is running.
7. If your candidate loses, you have to go to work naked for a week. This is why no one ever wants an early-spring election.
8. In order to be considered valid, all election ballots must be marked with the paw print of a fully-grown, live bear. Bears (who are notoriously libertarian) hate this.
9. Attack ads actually attack.
10. Speeches must be spoken in dactylic hexameter while the candidate is wearing a toga.
11. There are musical debates, featuring the resurrected corpse of Gene Kelly.
12. The economy is not the wealth and resources of a country or region, especially in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services. It is a mythical tree spirit, the true, fragile nature of which only Stephen Harper understands.
13. In the event of a minority government, the whole country gets given back to England, who then rags on us for the next 200 years for thinking we were so big, and demands to know what France is like in bed.
Reading the Harper quote again, I really think it has to be all of these things.