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(Deborah Baic)
(Deborah Baic)

Tabatha Southey

No election? Say it ain't so Add to ...

Pulled back from the brink of another election, I find the days a bit flat and dull now. Oh, they were right, all of them - this country could hardly withstand another election. Not after all that we've been through before, in the last election.

God bless Prime Minster Harper for warning us that holding an election would "screw up" Canada's economic recovery. In part it's the sheer eloquence of the man that sustains us: "Screw up" the economic recovery, he said, rather than, say, "Totally mess with its head."

And it helps to be reminded that one should never rush headlong to "fight" an election and that, spun properly, living in a democracy becomes a very good reason to feel put upon.

Harper was wise to use words like "appease." And to threaten us with the almost biblical allusion to the "bad things" that would occur were we to - oh, what was it again? That's right - to define and then debate the issues before voting in ridiculously small numbers at our local schools.

"There's never a good election, nor a bad peace," something like that, wasn't it?

An election, Mr. Harper also said, was the "one thing" that would derail our economic recovery (putting the ball rather firmly in his court, I would say, during what could be a very nasty flu season), and the Prime Minister's right. That last election, the election to end all elections, has depleted us. And yet, still, still, when the young people ask me, "What was it like?" I smile a little sadly and I tell them, "I'm not sure that you can ever understand, but for those of us who lived and loved in those dark days of the last election, everything else will always seem a bit colourless.

"Not that I would wish another generation to make the sacrifice we made. Indeed, apparently, we voted then so that they would never have to. But oh, the friendships one made! The songs we sang! The stirring works of the great electoral poets …"

I realize now that the election has been avoided, that I was premature in sending my children off to the countryside - the poor kids woke up at a train station in Cobourg with their names tied to them with string and they weren't pleased.

"But there'll be people coming," I said to them, as I pressed a thermos of cocoa into my youngest child's hand and waved them both off, "at least once a week, knocking on the door, at around dinner time, giving out leaflets printed on recycled paper.

"Our national cuisine will never make a full recovery and there's something so very brutal about the way those lawn signs go in. Whereas in the country there'll be a wardrobe full of fur coats. Go right to the back."

I for one was looking forward to all of that desperate, no-holds-barred election sex; that weak G-and-T in my shaking hands; that flash of light that penetrates the blackout curtains - the way it draws our attention, briefly, to the silence, and then the blast in the night sky and that shy hail of drywall dust falling from the ceiling above …

"But darling, by tomorrow we might have a minority Liberal government supported by …"

"Hush, darling."

"Oh, darling!"

"Darling …"


I've been knitting socks, saving peach pits and drawing my pantyhose onto my legs, which, given the unseasonable heat wave we've been having here in Toronto, is both an economy and a relief.

But it's over. Averted. And Michael Ignatieff has no doubt turned himself back toward that 100-Acre Wood he seems so fond of. I like to think that he's been handed a basket by a faithful aide and is collecting mushrooms.

The Tories, for the time being anyway, can relax in their efforts to find Mr. Ignatieff's Kenyan passport.

And yet I look at the new eligible voters today and sometimes I think that what they need is a good election.

What they need is to feel what it's like to hold a short, yellow pencil in their hands.

They need to struggle just once to flip quickly past the televised debates on their way to The Hills - which may have already started because damn it, someone came to the door again.

Men in blue sweaters. Men in red sweaters. Women in pant suits. Journalists on buses. I miss it all.

Perhaps if hemlines rose a few inches as each election went by, we'd get more people onside.

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