Three Reasons Why the Cost of the Election Doesn’t Matter

Posted on March 27, 2011


I got a comment on yesterday’s post that repeated the Conservative party line that four elections in seven years is too many, and that the $350 million cost of this upcoming election is a waste. The logical conclusion: We need a Conservative majority! Actually, she said we need a Progressive Conservative majority despite the fact that the first word of that party name no longer applies in any way shape or form, but I’ll forgive that little anachronism.

This red herring needs to be nipped in the bud lest it become an election issue, so I’m going to tackle it despite the fact that Sunday is my nominal day off. Here are three reasons why the cost of this election should not be mentioned by anybody who is not an employee of Elections Canada:

1) There is way, way, WAY more at stake than $350 million. Three hundred and fifty million dollars is pocket-change compared to the $30 billion that Stephen Harper wants to spend on unnecessary jet fighters, or the $10 billion that will be lost to corporate tax cuts, or the $REDACTED planned to be used to build new prisons.

If you are a conservative supporter then you might think, wrongly, that these expenditures are worthwhile. Feel free to vote that way. But the majority of the country’s representatives (who represent a majority of the country’s people), have decided that those budgetary priorities are questionable. That means that it is up for the electorate to decide if they want to see billions of dollars spent on law enforcement, tax cuts and military hardware.

Ensuring competent leadership is a worthwhile fiscal investment for any government or business. Complaining that we as a country have to pay $350 million to decide what to do with tens of billions is like taking part in a ten thousand dollar poker tournament and complaining that you have to pony up for the dealer’s minimum wage.

2) This election is partially the doing of the government. Okay, so I realize that this isn’t exactly a reason why the price tag doesn’t matter, but it is still relevant because the aforementioned complaint comes mainly from Conservative supporters. The typical party line goes that the Opportunistic Coalition of Seperatist, Socialist, ^NOT Leaders Who Are Just Visiting (The OCSSNLWAJV), has called this election to serve their own selfish ambition, and the Canadian Taxpayers will have to foot the bill.

The opposition is somewhat responsible for the fact that we are going to the polls in a month. They made the choice to vote down the budget and to find the government in contempt of parliament, and they knew what the outcome would be. The same choice, however, can be ascribed to Stephen Harper and his caucus. They tabled a budget that they knew the opposition parties would reject. This election is partially the fault of the Government for ignoring the demands of the majority of Canadian voters. Some have even suggested, quite plausibly, that the Conservatives tabled an unpassable budget because they wanted an election. Maybe Stephen Harper, hungry for his majority, has come up with a very clever way to put the question to Candians while blaming the OCSSNLWAJV for the costs of putting the question to Canadians.

3) It’s only $10 per person. The math is simple: $350 million in costs divided by 35 million people. Are you really willing to get that worked up about the cost of your last restaurant lunch? I should remind you that the government has been found in contempt of parliament, which means that they have been found in contempt of Canadian democracy. This election is, therefore, about the degree to which the Conservative party respects Canadian democratic institutions and those institutions are accordingly on the line. Sixty-some years ago, Canadians fought and died for democracy. Protesters in the Middle East today are fighting and dying so that they can have democracy. Just yesterday, hundreds of thousands of British protesters braved police batons so that they could make their voices heard.

To put this issue in perspective, here is a video which shows just how valuable democracy appears to those who do not have it. Fast forward to 1:15 for the really impressive display of courage.

When people are willing to stand up to a water canon and risked getting run over for the sake of democracy, are you really going to say that you don’t want to sacrifice the price of a meal at a fast-food restaurant.

If so, then you are spoiled and that’s really all there is to it. If you want, you can help Elections Canada save money on ballot counting by declining to vote. Those of us who care about the direction of our country will do no such thing.