Friday, December 23, 2005

Canary in the Coal Mine

Long, log ago, before even cell phones and video games, canaries were used to warn coal miners of deadly gases in coal mines. The canary was place in a cage at the top of the mine tunnel and if the canary showed signs of distress (or died), the mine would be evacuated.

Consider this election a coal mine on Liberal rule in Canada. I have decided to pick a canary. If this canary is convinced to dump the Liberals, then they are surely doomed.

The Canary: My Father

Vital Stats:

My father is 66 years old and a retired english teacher in Oshawa, a medium sized town (about 150,000) about 30 minutes from Toronto and in the 905 area code.


His parents escaped from the war and moved to Canada from Yugoslavia in 1948. Having seen what the Communists did in Yugoslavia (the shooting of enemies of the state, such as the only educated brother of my grandfather, a doctor), you would think my father would eschew the Liberal/NDP communist/socialist crap. Not so. Buying into the whole “won’t someone please think of the children!” propaganda put forward by the left, my father is supportive of these ideas, but is not set in his political ideology. He is an excellent example of a swing voter. He is not a member of any party and he can be convinced to switch his vote. Last election he voted for the Liberals and he thinks he voted for them in the 2000 election as well. Coming from Oshawa (Ed Broadbent's old riding), I would guess that he has votd for the NDP, probably when Ed was leader.

My fater is an enigma, as the rest of my immediate family is solidly on the right side of the spectrum. My mother, brother and sister, all lean towards the conservatives. That said, they are not ideologically set either. My mother votes for the person, while my brother strongly supports the idea that people should work for a living and not live off the state. He is particularly outspoken in his views. When Mike Harris was premier in Ontario, my brother was seen on an episode of Speaker’s Corner, saying he was glad Harris was going to kick out the welfare bums, who would now have to work for a living, just like him. My sister is a nurse and my brother works in the auto industry. I would say the daily influences on my father are sure to mention Liberal corruption often over the course of the election.

While my father’s daily influences are on the right, he balances this by a subscription to the Toronto Star and watching the CBC (although he usually falls asleep watching TV after 8 pm, so the influence of the CBC is somewhat limited). In addition, my one aunt and five uncles are mostly on the left. Three are teachers and one is a school principal. They are more likely to support the NDP, but some probably voted strategically Liberal in the last election. Discussions at family holidays were interesting at grandma’s house. The whole family is loud, mostly due to the fact that you have to yell or you will never get your point across. Debate was particularly vehement during the Harris years, with my aunt and uncles convinced he was the antichrist. This Christmas should be quite interesting at grandma's house.

The Plan

I will ask my father a few questions about the election each week, such as the most important story of the week, how he plans to vote, etc, and see if he can be convinced to vote something other than Liberal. He is representative of one type of typical Ontario voter, so if he goes over, the Liberals are dead.

Hey, it's just as scientific as a poll.

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