As I watch the US presidential campaign unfold, it’s easy to feel a bit smug. Our election issues are – on the whole – pretty boring, mostly because things are – on the whole – pretty good here. Not to discount the importance of Arctic sovereignty or softwood lumber tariffs or anything. But compared to some of the issues before Americans, our elections are downright tame.
Here are the top 5 issues being hotly debated south of the border that are thankfully not really on the radar screen in our election:
- The war in Iraq. Because, well, we’re not actually fighting in it. The war in Afghanistan is, of course, an issue here, but it’s not nearly as divisive as Iraq is for Americans.
- Terrorism and national security. Canadians are just plain less worried about this issue than Americans are, no matter what side of it they are on. Whether it’s because we’re more rational or more naive, the fact is that most Canadians don’t really believe that there is an imminent threat of terrorism, and the issue really isn’t showing up in our election discourse.
- Gay marriage. It’s been legal nationwide since 2005. Since then, thousands of same-sex couples have tied the knot in Canada, our wedding industry has benefited from an influx of marriage “tourists” from the US, and everyone else basically yawned and went on with their lives. Even Stephen Harper isn’t bothering to rehash the issue in this campaign, recognizing the futility of beating a dead horse.
- Abortion. Yeah, there have been a few rumbles, which have mostly consisted of scare-tactics by the Duceppe camp against Harper – who has stated that he has no plans to re-open the issue. As explosive as the issue is in the US election, here, it’s basically a non-issue, just as it has been in virtually every Canadian election campaign since the 1970s.
- What our candidates look like. While Americans choose between their first-ever African-American president and their first-ever female VP, us Canadians have an election that’s about the candidates’ politics and not about their skin colour or background. Of course, that’s because they’re all a bunch of white guys (except for Elizabeth May). But I suspect that even if our PM candidates were a bit more representative of the country, we’d still manage to talk less about their skin colour or gender than the Americans do. Besides, Kim Campbell won’t exactly go down in history as a great Canadian leader, but I’d still rather have her than Sarah Palin any day.
The economy is, without a doubt, the #1 voting issue for both Americans and Canadians. As it should be. Polls have shown that the other top election issues for Canadians are healthcare, the environment and poverty. We can hopefully expect these issues to dominate tonight’s debate, and the above issues to hardly rate a mention.
Sometimes, it’s good to be Canadian.