First, the ground rules:
Personal donations are capped at just over $1000 to as many riding associations/individual canidacies as you please, and another $1000 to national campaign/campaigns.
Corporate and union donations to political parties are banned, because they are bad. We have democracy, we don't sell it.
As for the "oooooohhhh, but the leaders are so unappealing" whinging going on, all I can say is that my Conservative buddies will be glad to see their strategy is working. They've made a concerted effort to make this campaign personal, lowering the tone and smearing Ignatieff as an individual (with accusations which are factually untrue and quotes wildly out of context).
However, funnily enough, left-leaning voters are most susceptible to this sort of campaign. Their strategy last election was voter suppression. Tune out most of the electorate, and fanatics make up the majority of the voter turn out. The CPC has the most fanatics, so..... victory!
Full disclosure, I'm working on a Green Campaign in a 50% + Liberal riding, trying to rally a strong protest vote to send a message that just because long-view voters sometimes have to compromise, doesn't mean we want to, and the other parties shouldn't ignore the giant issues of fiscal and environmental sustainability waiting to bite us on the ass in the not-so-distant future.
Still, with that caveat, here are a few things to be excited about:
1. Liberal Party's "Open Government" platform, which includes:
■Immediately restore the long-form census;
■Make as many government datasets as possible available to the public online free of
charge at opendata.gc.ca in an open and searchable format, starting with Statistics
Canada data, including data from the long-form census;
■Post all Access to Information requests, responses, and response times online at
■Make information on government grants, contributions and contracts available through
a searchable, online database at accountablespending.gc.ca.
Its an immediately deliverable way to improve democratic accountability.
2. Liberal Party's education pledge, to redirect post-secondary education funding to target low income families, compensating for rising tuition and economic pressure on working families by helping them with a major expense, while helping to bring in the next generation of leaders and level the playing field a little at the same time.
3. All opposition parties offering support to families who care for the elderly or disabled at home.
4. Green Party demand to make clean air and, especially, water a Charter right, making those who irresponsibly pollute the air and water of others liable for their actions. (Too many governments allow friendly corporations to poison the drinking water of communities and get away with it. Clean water is a constant challenge for many rural First Nations, and Tony Clement and Jim Flaherty were the ones who gave us Walkerton, after all.)
5. Greens, Liberals and NDP all calling Harper's bluff on corporate tax cuts when healthcare funding is about to be an issue again, tax and fee pressures on ordinary Canadians are increasing and the government can't afford to meet its fundamental constitutional commitments on First Nations school boards, environmental, health and safety inspections and support for veterans, not to mention that whole giant deficit thing.
Each of the opposition parties has a whole lot to offer, and there will be more in coming days. Stop holding politicians to such a bizarrely high standard, its creepy, and look at the real and positive change they can offer.
Besides, this is a terrible, terrible government. Wildly incompetent, horrifically contemptuous of democracy and blissfully unaccountable. We deserve at least competent leadership. Jack Layton's NDP and Ignatieff's Liberals are both more than capable of giving that.
Also, in Iggy's defense, he's been eating his Wheaties. He called the Tories out on the corporate cut BS, on lying to Parliament and (I don't think he gets enough credit for this) when the Seperatists had their bizarre and, frankly, racist smear campaign against Sikhs, and called for the barring of male MPs of that faith, including sitting ones, from the House of Commons and National Assembly, everyone basically turned and coughed.
Until Iggy showed up in Quebec and denounced the move in French, that is. Calling out the PLQ and PQ on reasonable accomodation and minority rights in Quebec... that takes balls.
So cut the man a break and don't swallow what Harper's shoveling. The man may not have my vote, but he's demonstrated himself to be a fine leader in the liberal tradition.