That's when the big guns come out swinging and you get to guide the punches.
That's when each and every vote cast becomes a tiny little swerve in the arc of your haymaker.
My fellow Canadians, if you've ever wanted to knock Stephen Harper on his ass (or, you know, out of office...) this is your proverbial 'shot'.
This is your chance to say how you want your country to look for the next 4 years (realistically: 2, if we get another Minority).
Personally, I want to hear the candidates talk about building the next generation of Jobs. We're no longer a manufacturing country. Not anymore. We can secure our future, and our growing need for energy, by supporting brilliant ideas like building a wind farm up in the Canadian Shield.
I want to hear the candidates talk about what families are supposed to do once all of said promised handouts run out. $1000 here, $1500 there... great, thanks. That'll get a vote or two... but what about 3-4 years down the line? I'm glad that you're going to take away the 2-week limit for EI to get started... but how about some jobs?
I want to hear how the hell they hope to realistically maintain a free and open internet in the shadow of a country that's openly working to crush theirs. Almost all of our internet traffic runs through US servers -- how do you plan on protecting Canadians from the prying eyes and interests of American companies? Or from Harper's Agenda of 'We Will Spy On The Internet'.
I want to hear how our leaders, once in office, will begin the much-needed process of electoral reform. I'm sorry but our first-past-the-post system is such a BS way to run a country and, worse, we all know it. We need Proportional Representation and we need it now. To many voices are left stifled -- 60+% of Canadians who fall on the 'Liberal' end of the spectrum find their country being run by the 30-ish% who vote in a united way (aka gaming the system). Either the other Liberal parties merge, creating a 2-party system (vote Left or Right) or suffer through continued Conservative minority governments. Or *GASP* change the system so that it actually reflects the will of the true majority of Canadians. (and Conservatives, you know that if things were reversed and the country was hiding a Conservative bent, stifled by the Liberals, you'd be all over this like white on rice).
Listen, I get that the stuff I'm on about is all sorts of un-sexy. I get that when the race tightens up everyone grabs at the low-hanging fruit -- your party needs votes and you need them fast; especially when trying to supplant a ziggurat like 'The Harper Government'.
But it's easy to say 'we'll make things easier for you' and hand out some money... and Tax Credits.
Ahh yes, tax credits. You realize we still pay for those, right? That they're coming out of Canadian Taxpayer's pockets.
There are real issues going on in this country, ones that are being glossed over or painted with broad strokes that need to be answered with clarity before I can vote for any of you with a clear conscience.
That said, I still plan to vote.
So, here's the deal: I'm going to put my vote up and out there for grabs.
The first leader of the big 4 political parties, Ignatieff, Layton, May... and yes, even Harper, (sorry, I don't have the option to vote Bloc) to make contact with me at the email address linked to my account -- who answers, publicly, 3 questions of my choosing (with acceptable, non-political BS answers), will get my vote.
NOTE: What is a 'political BS answer'? Anything that smacks of 'yeah, we're working on that'. Anything that's a brush off, or a dodge. The questions will be simple, and should be easy enough to answer.
If you're up for this, shoot me an email with the subject heading 'I Want To Earn Your Vote' and we can go from there.
Honestly, I'm a touch intrigued to see if anyone will show.
But its out there... and there are seven days left before the big show.
Who's willing to earn my vote?