I’ve been following the Canadian election pretty closely, well as close as you can from 5000 km away. It’s really frustrating reading about all the and not being able to discuss them. So, humour me for a second while I go on a political rant.

Some general observations about the election so far:

1) Political support for the parties hasn’t shifted at all since the election has been called (and barely at all since the last election). It doesn’t take a someone with a stats PhD t look at the Globe’s poll tracker and draw a horizontal trend line for each party. No party has moved more than the the margin of error. And yet, we get headlines like “Liberals surging”, “Liberals and Conservatives Neck & Neck” and “Liberals snatching NDP votes”. How do they figure? Well since the national numbers aren’t that exciting, they’re looking at regional numbers, derived from tiny sample sizes (<500 people) and having huge margins of error. So even a big swing in numbers isn't that exciting when your sample sizes are so small. I think polls should be banned during an election, than the media could focus on real issues and leave finding patterns in random noise to SETI.

2) I just read that Ed Schreyer is running for the NDP in Manitoba. Wow! You may recognize the name because it came up a lot when Michaëlle Jean was chosen as Governor General. Ed Screyer was a Manitoba MLA at 22, an MP at 30, Premier of Manitoba at 34, and Governor General at 44 (younger than Michaëlle Jean). He’s had a really successful political career, but I thought he had retired. He’s in a winnable riding (the NDP finished 2nd last time and Ed Schreyer used to represent the riding federally before), and I hope he does well.

3) When you’re only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When your Steven Harper, every problem can be solved with a tax cut. Child care, education, and athletics. Either his policy team is really creative or stuck in a rut, I’m not sure. Trying to spin a tax cut as a child care policy is crafty work. The one that irks me though, is the tax credit for University students. On the surface, this should be aimed directly at me: I have a large scholarship that counts as taxable income and as a co-op student I have significant income every four months. And yet, up until now I have never had to pay income taxes – I always get a full refund at the end of the year and I’m still carrying credits forward (we’ll see what happens this April).

So, if even with a scholarship and good paying co-op jobs, I don’t need extra tax credits. So, how does this help me or better yet the average student? The money would be better spent reducing tuition or investing in universities so we get more value for our money. One day I will pay taxes and will appreciate tax credits, but this isn’t going to help the average student.

4) What’s with Martin’s anti-Bush rhetoric? I’m the last person to stand up for George Bush and his environmental policies. But it is a bit hypocritical of Martin to challenge him on the environmental front. Other than signing his name on piece of paper (the Kyoto Protocol), and reluctantly at that, what else has he done? Nothing has been done to actually implement Kyoto. In the past 10 years emissions in Canada have increased (increased!) – at twice the rate of the United States!

5) Some newspapers have been trying to portray this election as a 2 party race between the Liberals and Conservatives. What a gross over-simplification. The only places in the this country that holds is in the 905 belt of Ontario and in Atlantic Canada. In big cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg it’s a race between the NDP and Liberals. In Saskatchewan it’s between the Conservatives and NDP. In Quebec it’s down to the Libs and Bloc. And in BC it’s a 3-way race with the NDP, Cons, and Libs each having 30% support. Maybe they’re confused with the USA, but in Canada we have more than 2 parties contesting this election. And with the end result looking more like another minority, the seats belonging to every party will matter.