Gut-check time for parties ahead of vote

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 17, 2015

Party leaders exchange pleasantries following a leadership debate. Brandon Sun (file)
Party leaders exchange pleasantries following a leadership debate. Brandon Sun (file)

If this election has proven anything, it’s that sometimes it’s not the knockout that scores a win but a series of blows over time that leads to victory. The knockout punch isn’t likely to happen on Monday, but as the days turn to hours, it may be the late-round flurry that counts.

On the local front, aside from a couple of heated exchanges in The Brandon Sun/WCGtv debates, it has been a quiet and polite affair.

On the national stage, however, the closing week of this election campaign has been a whirlwind of posturing, a sprinkling of lies and a dash of bitterness tossed in for good measure. Each party has spent a number of weeks gallivanting about the countryside, but as election day looms, all three have gone to their corners in Ontario where pundits point to the battle being won or lost come Monday.

When the 42nd federal election is fully dissected in the months to follow, it will ultimately come down to one of two fates that will comprise the headlines for scribes across the country.

First, we may finally know if Justin Trudeau is ready for prime time. As the perceived front-runner, the election is now in the hands of the Liberal leader — even going so far as to test the Canadian will for a majority government.

His fate and the final outcome clearly rests on whether the Grits can continue to mobilize the support they’ve garnered over the last number of weeks and months.

As I had shared in a column in August, Trudeau needed to do two things well to have a shot at winning: keep ahead of the other two in his ground game, and take a win in at least one of the nationally televised debates.

He seems to have come through on both fronts, by matching step-for-step his counterparts in criss-crossing the country, and appearing to score major points in the debates, where many believed he would falter.

What happened to Tom Mulcair and the NDP? That will be the second headline, if the current polls remain true. He started out looking majority territory squarely in the eye, but has been on a steady decline for a number of weeks now. He badly needs a groundswell of support to match the numbers built — predominantly in Quebec — by the late Jack Layton. Mulcair will undoubtedly still hold some power in this government, but moving into the Prime Minister’s Office seems pretty remote.

As for Stephen Harper, he’s tried in vain to make this election about him and his Conservative party, but has had a tough time stealing the spotlight away from the one-two punch that has been his rivals. Both Trudeau and Mulcair came in prepared, both picked separate times to begin swinging and both now entertain a glimmer of hope come Tuesday morning.

Further to that, the number of gaffes in the Harper campaign has been monumental. Between the turfing of candidates to the latest “endorsement” coming from the Ford brothers, the prime minister has cast a long shadow of hypocrisy on the hustings.

As much it pains Harper and the Conservatives to say it, and even though they still stand a very realistic shot of winning, they do not seem to be in the position to write the headline for this election. The Conservative leader’s support is exactly what it is and does not by any stretch appear to be growing as a result of this campaign.

Even his own candidates seem to have distanced themselves from him. One need look no further than party literature as most of the Tory pamphlets, advertisements and the like are devoid of mentioning Harper — or the party for that matter. They would never admit it publicly, but all signs point to candidates winning almost in spite of their leader — Brandon-Souris being a prime example of that.

As columnists, there’s a certain armchair quality to what we do and in the end, it is basically reading the tea leaves and making an educated guess.

Where the real effort takes place is by those who chose to put their names on a ballot. It has, at times, not been easy, but to stick your neck out and run takes some chutzpah.

And to the countless volunteers who came forward to champion their candidate’s cause, this country is better as a result of your efforts.

Two words sum it up best: Thank you.

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Shaun Cameron is a content contributor. A veteran of print, video and television, Shaun is a professional post-secondary employee by day, a filmmaker by night. Check out more of Shaun's work in the menu bar above.

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Shaun Cameron has worked in media for close to two decades. His work has been featured in print, internet, video, radio and television publications. A proud father of two, Shaun lives in Brandon, Manitoba with his wife Karol.

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