Have you noticed how Canadian politics seems to be changing? Maybe it's just me, with my memory stretching far back to a time when cell phones took two hands to lift, matched only in their heft by 'portable' music systems (shoulder carry being the most popular).
Back when I was young and fresh, we saw signs for our local candidates and we voted for our local candidates. Sure, we knew which party they belonged to and that really shaped our like or dislike of them, but our streets and lawns were not cluttered with the mugs of the leaders. Let me do a breakdown of what I've been seeing on the streets of Montréal, following the order of the latest national poll.
The Conservative Party. Interestingly enough, not a lot of Steve on the billboards here; he's not much of a big seller in most of Québec. So yes, we are seeing the candidates (when we can see past the graffiti written across their faces), but we all know that there is a place of honour in the politics of ME for the man who would be Prime Minister with less opposition. Very much a rumoured one-man show. I've pictured Steve from one of his speeches, but I've added an aluminum foil hat to protect him from any marauding coalitions.
The New Democratic Party. There's something not so deeply buried within me that is titillated to be noting the NDP in second place, but we'll see how all the chips fall next Monday. Why is Jack Layton looking at me from almost every lamppost in the city? Last I heard, his riding was Toronto Danforth, not Laurier-Sainte-Marie. The more disturbing observation I have, however, came out of my television set. "I will fund more doctors and nurses," affirmed Jack. I?!! What happened to the team? And just because my other photos of signs are defaced (seems to be the theme of the year), here's one showing Jack's presence on the posters of one of his candidates.
The Liberal Party of Canada. Had to add the Canada on the end of that one, as we have one of those at the provincial level here, and we don't much like them, either. We might thank the Tories for making the Liberal leader the issue through attack ads, but the response has been more Ignatieff from his own side, and very little team. The omnipresence of Ignatieff (why can't I bring myself to call him Michael?) on signs here is recent, following his appearance on the very important show Tout le monde en parle this past Sunday. I guess they think he did well and can show his face here, or they just didn't want to take too many chances on the defacing possibilities. Oops! Spoke too soon.
The Bloc Québécois. In my riding, it might be understandable to see Gilles Duceppe's face everywhere, as this is the place he calls home (he is my MP). But here, too, the first wave of Bloc posters everywhere was Gilles. Getting desperate from too many polls favourable to the NDP, the response has been to trot out other old warhorses, in the form of Jacques Parizeau. I'm still left wondering what happened to the team, but chuckling over this hipster version of the omnipresent poster.
The Green Party. It is clear that they have way less money than everyone else, as their posters are kind of on the cheap side (but there are lots of them in public spaces, so this isn't about being green). The prevalent image here is their hypnotizing symbol, but the messaging has really been all Elizabeth May.
So what's my complaint? I always thought that the country would be governed by a team, not an individual, and I don't see much of that on the hustings. Is it any wonder that many Canadians don't understand how our political system works when the public discourse is dominated by the voices and images of people we won't find on our ballots on election day? Or maybe the goal of these marketing efforts really isn't to get us to understand the issues and the system and to vote with our heads. That is just sad.