Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Jan. 23, 2006)

Election Outcome - More Dithering

John Pifer

The outcome of Monday’s federal general election in Canada was oh, so … so … Canadian!

No hard decisions were made, nothing bold was ventured; no risks were taken, and the outcome was a political dog’s breakfast of another minority government, albeit this time a Conservative one, with increased representation from the socialist NDP.

It sets the stage for an even more acrimonious Parliament, where our disgraceful Question Period is a short step away from being a contact sport, and for another election within the next two years. That’s all we need!

To expect the NDP and the Liberals to cooperate, despite all of the B.S. about it on election night, is like expecting pigs to fly. And if the Bloc Quebecois sees legislation that is not kissing up to Quebec, they won’t support it either.

So all the campaign talk about getting tougher on crime, about mandatory minimum sentences, and about stronger sentencing overall fell on deaf Liberal ears, especially in Toronto, despite the Boxing Day murder of an innocent bystander caught in a daylight deadly crossfire, and then-Prime Minister Paul Martin’s ludicrous announcement that he would ban all handguns.

What are we here in Canada’s westernmost province and the Prairie Provinces to think about those Toronto voters in particular, who held to the Liberal line, despite the aforementioned gun violence and the Liberals’ lack of ethics and morality?  All but two Toronto seats went Liberal, the others to the NDP. At least outside of the Centre of the Universe, the voters returned three dozen or so Conservatives, enough to give them the most seats in the country and the minority role.

As the dust settled on election night, it came as little surprise to hear that Martin was going to resign, pretty well immediately. Having Mr. Dithers exit the centre stage of politics in Canada under such half-ass measures is typical of Canadian voters’ own dithering.  Mr. Martin and his Liberals deserved to be punished for the arrogance and corruption that has grown steadily through the last 12 years; but the voters of Toronto and Vancouver in particular treated the party far more kindly than generally expected – in that nice Canadian way.

The fact that thousands in the major cities owe their jobs to the Liberals through all of the handouts and bloated bureaucracy may well have had them voting to maintain the status quo, rather than to risk change.

Even on election night, the pundits were also muttering about whether Canada’s new Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, would have to consider resigning because the Conservatives did not get 140 seats or more, only 124, up from 99 from the 2004 election. The truth is he deserves a chance; but his Conservative minority will be surrounded by political landmines, by a coterie of Liberal leadership hopefuls fighting for the spotlight, and by a hostile news media.

To see the Conservatives lose half-a-dozen seats in BC to the NDP was not as big a surprise, as there were many three-way races here, and the left coast strength of the NDP was boosted by the provincial success of Carol James.  No, the big BC surprise was to see the Liberals retain all of their BC seats, and even add one, within Vancouver and North Vancouver.

Did the scare tactics and negative ads from the Liberals and NDP painting Mr. Harper as some kind of George Bush puppet just waiting to overturn existing laws on abortion have a bearing – of course they did.

As longtime North Van friend Liz James pointed out on election night: “Don Bell (Liberal) returned in North Vancouver?  Give me a break.  He beats Cindy Silver with the hard-right fundamentalist anti-abortion epithets.  Yet Bell attends the same church as she does, and Paul Martin belongs to the anti-abortion Catholic Church!”

Go figure. It’s all just so Canadian. I guess our nation’s only true action hero was the one who brought great relief to viewers from the talking heads on election night at 9pm – Jack Bauer of ‘24’, as played by Kiefer Sutherland.  Sadly, he does all his daring-do in the U.S.

Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at


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