The day before the starter’s gun was fired pollsters had Tory Stephen Harper and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair “in a close race.”
A brave call and probably the most accurate one to be made by pollsters between now and October 19 when the marathon to elect a new parliament will end. Did I write “most accurate” on the call? For sure, with all the horses still in the gate how can they be anything else but “close”?
Undeterred by dismal failure rates in a string of provincial election campaigns, with the most recent pollster debacle in Alberta still fresh in mind, the pollsters are at it again. Fearlessly they tell us how the race is going before the first steps are taken, then urgently advise us to pay close attention to them as they “track” the runners until they cross the finish line.
Past inaccuracies in their “tracking” don’t seem to faze them, and the possibility that the electorate has been fooling them with phony answers to intrusive questions is unthinkable.
But it is a fact in recent years in democratic countries around the world pollsters have “got it wrong” and electors, damn it, have made ballot box decisions based on their own thinking not on popular social network trending. My “tracking” tells me they will do the same come October 19.
They will decide whether a young Justin Trudeau could lead a strong cabinet of older Liberals into middle of the road policies with more openness, more compassion, than young Stephen Harper’s hard-line Tories.
The voters will decide, without straw poll persuaders, if Thomas Mulcair is capable of controlling his temper enough to soften intemperate statements and his inclination to voice “conspiracy theories”. He is known by many as “Angry Tom”.
Back in 2011 when Jack Layton was leader of the NDP and Mulcair his deputy, Layton with his characteristic diplomacy was required on several occasions to douse Mulcair wildfires. Two weeks ago on July 17 The Huffington Post asked in a headline “Can Canadians Trust Thomas Mulcair With The Countries Top Job?”
There is little doubt voters will be reminded, again and again, as the campaign trail strings out, of Mulcair’s response in 2012 when Elections Canada found the NDP guilty of violating political financing laws. Mulcair grumpily suggested “everybody does it”, hinted there was a conspiracy out there to gang-up on the NDP – but voiced no regrets,offered no apologies.
“Angry Jack” has already lost some support to the Green Party led by Elizabeth May. Come October 19 voters may well again thwart most pollsters by deciding to provide a few more Green voices in parliament. Not enough to form a government because I don’t think the electorate envisions Ms. May as a Prime Minister, or as Canada’s voice on the international stage. But half a dozen or so calm, rational voices, would stand out in the often vicious babble of Ottawa – and, while costly to Mulcair’s dream of glory, could well result in elevated good manners and common courtesy replacing the gutter fighting called debate “on the hill.”
And that would be a pollster free benefit we could all treasure.