Psyching out the election puzzle not easy

GE Mortimore: "On my way to the advance poll, I would like to check the taxi-driver’s prediction of the outcome"

Yes, the B.C. election is a close-run thing. On my way to the advance poll, I would like to check the taxi-driver’s prediction of the outcome.

Cabbies are the universal consultants about policy and public opinion. But on the brief journey to the poll, there may not be time to thrash out the three-part puzzle:

Who deserves to win, will there be a clear winner, and what will he/she do after gaining power?

NDP leader Adrian Dix’s quiet presence seems to be holding firm against Christy Clark’s razzle-dazzle.

Gordon Campbell’s fumbles and betrayals  left a bad smell lingering in the polling station corridor.

Don’t you think so, friend cab driver?   Maybe, huh? Thanks, I’m on my own in the corridor now.

Campbell’s top betrayals were selling and partly paving over a publicly owned railway which he had promised not to sell, a railway with great economic-development power and levying a sales tax he had promised not to levy.

Christy Clark is trying to distance the B.C. Libs from Campbell’s follies by doing rhetorical handsprings and somersaults.

It’s an unconvincing ploy because some of the politicians who endorsed Campbell and his railway-sale caper are still around and running for office again under the B.C. Lib flag.

Every political junkie has a lot to be nervous about. The corrective to anxiety is work, the old-fashioned hard work of identifying supporters and doing the most possible to bring them to polling stations and make sure they vote.

Spelling out governing plans during the election campaign is a risky move. It raises the danger that your opponents will pry planks loose from your platform and either ridicule them or steal them.

So politicians usually paint with broad strokes and utter benign slogans during the campaign.

In the case of the NDP government that has a strong chance of taking office, however, some hints of policy are beginning to appear.

Dix spoke at a gathering of 70 B.C. mayors in Prince George. He was the only leader who accepted the invitation. The others made excuses.

Federal, provincial and municipal politicians all represent the same people. The fact that Dix talked to the mayors may suggest that he is nearly ready to join into a network of all three realms which flies up and over today’s paper barriers.

If joining together and unofficially remaking the constitution turns out to be what the people want, that is.

This alliance could be part of the new politics which has already linked the provinces together against Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s rigid, unyielding rule.

I daydream as I stand in line at the advance poll. Harper seems ready to cut back the flow of healthcare money to the provinces when the health deal comes up for a new round of horse-trading in 2014.

Provinces of all colours made a common front against Harper in asking for lower pharmaceutical-drug prices through bulk buying.

Canada’s constitution looks capable of being bent and reshaped – unlike its rigid counterpart in the U.S.A.

In this bleak advance-poll corridor, I draw comfort from the idea that the new policy has already started in Canada.

A few scribbles, and I ask the returned driver as he helps me into his cab. Who is he betting on? He grins but he doesn’t answer. That’s how I feel too.

G.E. Mortimore is a long time columnist for the Goldstream News Gazette.