But what the polls don't show is fire in the belly and election readiness. From a number of factors, including two communications I got yesterday, I think the Liberals are going to rise to the occasion and win this thing. My riding association, which didn't seem very interested in including new faces in the last election, sent a great email asking for volunteers... a real call to arms. Plus, I received a charming and effective letter from Bob Rae, asking me to write, call or email him with my views so he can "give them voice in Ottawa and beyond." Small things perhaps, but they show that the party is pulling in the grass roots in a way they haven't done so well in the past.
I have no doubt that Harper is calling the election because he saw numbers similar to what the Globe published and thought this was his best shot at a majority. Cynically tossing aside his commitment to fixed election dates, he's telling bald-faced lies about gridlock in parliament and going to the polls more than a year early. Once again he's using tax-payer money to finance his personal ambitions.
It's going to rebound on him. A few days ago I was thinking of going back to the NDP (after some inspiration from James Laxer), but now I'm galvanized to support Stephane Dion. I can't wait to see Dion debate Harper: integrity and intelligence are going to look very good in comparison to nasty ideology.
Harper now has a solid record, and it's a record of dismantling principles we hold dear. Canada has a low (and declining) crime rate and internationally-renowned jail diversion programs: Harper has done what he can to fill our prisons, especially with his favorite target - youth. We have a strong civil society and vibrant artistic community: Harper has done what he can to strip funding. He has horrified us with his use of power to attack private citizens, such as his completely unfair recent denunciation of journalist Gwynne Dyer. He is underhandedly trying to chip away at a woman's right to control her own body. And there are some really shady election shenanigans that he has to answer for.
There are a lot of scary things Harper wants to do but has not yet been able to, but the scariest is the dismantling of our system of public health care. Make no mistake: if he gets his majority, or maybe even if he gets another minority, health care as we know it is toast. We already have private health care: any Canadian can go south and buy whatever they want. The only reason for instituting two-tier health care in Canada is to undermine the current system and force its demise.
This isn't like the last election, when the media undermined a legitimate line of attack against Harper by saying the Liberals were scaremongerers. This time around Harper has a record to stand by, and it's not pretty. Harper's vision of Canada has been exposed and it is a US Republican Mini-Me: militaristic, unregulated, polluted; with tax cuts for the rich and benefits cuts for the poor; with full jails; and with government hand-outs geared towards corporations, not communities.
This isn't like the last election, when the Liberals were crippled by allegations of corruption (some valid, some not) that sapped our fighting spirit.
This time we have a visionary leader who radiates integrity and who is in tune with the concerns of Canadians. And we have an energized base that is gungho to get Harper the heck out of Ottawa.