07/10/2015 05:36 EDT | Updated 07/10/2016 05:59 EDT

Why Election Campaigns Are Like Shark Week


I have an outrageous theory about the next federal election: it won't be the last one. It certainly isn't the first, but it will likely feel that way if you listen to the candidates and pundits who will insist this is THE pivotal moment in Canadian history.

What most Canadians haven't realized is that the 2015 election campaign is already underway. It may be hard to believe in the middle of summer, while tens of millions of Canadians are gripped in the frenzy of Panamania, that the democratic wheels are in motion to determine our future. I'd like to summarize what we can expect over the coming months of polling, spin and punditry. And perhaps offer a bit of advice.

Don't misunderstand what I am about to say. I love politics and all it entails, but a four-month campaign like the one we are about to endure will be like watching Shark Week on the Discovery channel. No matter how much you love watching sharks, by Thursday, you will be wondering how many more times you need to hear the words "apex predator," "megashark" or "he's just not ready" -- OK that last one is just in the commercial breaks but you get my point.

Whether it's 36 or 120 days, political campaigns are the most scrutinized and overanalyzed events known to man. You can bet that this one will be no different. Theories will abound on the influence of every minutiae on voter turnout and attitudes. Spin and constructed drama will feed into predictions of every possible outcome but sadly you won't hear much about ideas, policies or issues. I get it, Shark Week would get bad ratings if they cut right to the big/strong shark eating the small/weak shark, or focused on science. Where's the fun in that? So, to help you prepare for the onslaught of political punditry, polling analysis, and strategist spin that will increasingly fill the airwaves in coming weeks, here are some simple translations for the most common lines you might hear.

When a pollster says "there are multiple scenarios that could play out, we'll have to wait and see," it means: "I don't know." It's like the marine biologists they interview for the megalodon episode.

Q: "Do megalodon still exist?"

A: "There are still vast, uncharted parts of the ocean where a mega predator could exist."

Cut to CGI clip of a megalodon swimming in uncharted parts of ocean. It's entertaining, but wild speculation at best.

When a political science professor or pundit says "this is a game changer," it means it's probably a slow news day. There are really very few "game changers" in campaigns. This is much like the so-called "megashark." Great whites in excess of 20 feet are very rare, yet nearly every sighting of a great white seems to be estimated at the "megashark" 20-foot mark instead of the average 14/15 feet.

I think you get my point, simple truth is boring, hyperbole and drama is entertaining. The simple truth about sharks is they are big, scary creatures who eat anything in their path, some would say that is a perfect analogy for politicians, or at least their campaign managers.

So, to put it in its simplest terms, this election will be like a feeding frenzy -- there is blood in the water and the sharks are circling. There is definitely a megashark in the water, he is ready to rip and tear his opponents apart to assert his role as the apex megashark. He's a shark, it's what they do. The other great whites might not be willing to challenge him just yet, they want to do things differently. My advice to them is, be a shark, or get out of the water. To the rest of you election campaign and shark week lovers, rest assured you will be entertained. And when it's all over, there will be another one soon enough.


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