In the first week of the federal election campaign, the Leader of the Canadian Alliance, Stockwell Day, has already made a number of gaffes that have shown us a new side of him.

Let us examine them.

The first one took place behind Parliament Hill, in one of Day’s quests for the perfect “photo op.” His intention was to have Parliament in relief behind him as he dramatically asserted the building belongs to the people, and not Jean Chretien; his point that it is time to throw out the old government, and bring in a new one--his.

A fair use of the building, and not incorrect. But as Don Newman, Senior Parliamentary Editor for the CBC pointed out, in the morning the sun is BEHIND the Parliament Building, and so from the position Day took, all that could be seen was a silhouette.

For my part, I would never have thought it a gaffe, if I hadn’t heard Newman say it was; just a small fault of the advance work, Newman said: the advance man observed the building under clouds, and hadn’t thought what it would look like in sun. A small thing,

The next took place at Quake Technologies, where Day was seeking another “photo op,” to demonstrate a “brain drain” due to an onerous income tax system--that he will cure with an almost flat tax.

Just one problem: the founder, Michael Trepannier, a Canadian, had come back from the United States to establish this company--and he had hired Americans away from the unrestricted capitalism down south.

A somewhat larger gaffe, demonstrating exactly the opposite of what Day intended: an environment conducive to innovation based upon universal health insurance, and all the things his platform is out to change. Though in honesty, Trepannier did say he found the red tape associated with the GST a hassle--and the Alliance is innocent of it, unlike the Liberals and Tories.

Still trying to illustrate the, to him, apparent inevitability, of the “brain drain,” Day took his next “photo op” to Niagara Falls. A truly great symbol of something, draining somewhere.

But when it was pointed out the Niagara River flowed north, the same way the Falls fall, Day seemed only to accept it as some kind of theoretical possibility, making a convoluted statement that if he had been mistakenly informed as to the direction of the flow of “this particular body of water,” he would be having “an interesting discussion” with the responsible person.

Two more examples of poor advance work--maybe.

I don’t fault Day for not knowing the details of Quake Technologies; I don’t, and I don’t know anyone who does. However, I would have expected workers in the Leader’s Office, or the Campaign, to be smart enough to find out--why else on they on staff?

I do expect a prospective Prime Minister of Canada to know one of the more salient features of Canadian geography, and of some small importance to Ontario--a piece of geography of some small importance to Day.

Day, and his supporters, have attempted to downplay these gaffes, saying what is important is the message. But the failure to discover the details of a business by the man who says he knows business sends what message? And what is the message of a would be Prime Minister who has no knowledge of basic geography? Will he understand the elements of geopolitics that govern our world?

For better or worse, modern media have telescoped the political party into the person of the Leader. And at least since Trudeau have political parties made use of this. Day and the Alliance are no different throwing up his youth and vitality against what they claim is the age and fatigue of Chretien.

Even in a Party espousing the grassroots as Day’s does requires the Leader to carry the message. It is the Leader that the Party presents in the Maritimes, in Ontario.

I am not the first to decry it, but I know that the Leader is the Party, and the Party is the Leader. The test of the Leader is the running of the Campaign. If he can’t present the political theater, if he can’t show us all he says is really out there--maybe it isn’t.

Comments on the Canadian Federal Election

Mr. Day's biggest gaffes came when he decided to let the people of Canada in on his religious beliefs.

He said abortion was murder.
Mr. Day criticized gays and lesbians.

"you're only as strong as your faith in God"

"to procreate is a God-given responsibility."

"I believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God and every word in it, cover to cover, is true."

And in one single informal presentation of idiocy, Day claimed all of the following to be true:

1) The earth is 6,000 years old

2) Adam and Eve were real people

3) Humans and dinosaurs co-existed

4) There's as much evidence for creation as evolution.

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