It's early days for the robocalls affair, but I think the central lesson of this story is already evident -- namely, that our politicians will do anything to win an election.
I say "politicians" and not "Conservatives" because if you think it's only the Tories who would stoop so low as to trick voters into not voting then you're hopelessly naive. The Liberals would most certainly do the same thing if they thought they could get away with it. (As for the NDP and Greens, one might argue they wouldn't get involved in such shameless trickery -- and that may very well explain why they're perpetual losers.)
No matter what laws we put in place to stop them, politicians will find new ways to cheat. And when they're discovered and more rules are added to plug the holes, they'll always manage to invent even newer ways to gain an illegal advantage -- they're clever that way.
So, the electorate simply can't win. Or can it?
If we can't have honest politicians and fair elections, at least we can exploit Ottawa for our own entertainment. We can make politicos work a lot harder for our votes, not to mention those fat MP salaries and pensions.
Instead of going nuts trying to come up with new election rules, perhaps we should try the opposite and do away with ALL rules and turn this thing into a no-holds-barred, made-for-TV cage fight. If we're not going to get quality, mature leadership no matter what we do, let's just do away with the pretense of it entirely. Let's have some fun.
Take Question Period as an example. It's already basically devolved into a gong show where members of each party take turns bitching at their opponents, so why not embrace it? When words wont do, politicians should be forced to recess to an adjoining ring and fight it out, WWE style. You want to beat your opponent? Do it. Literally.
Cussing in the Commons should also be encouraged. So should face paint. And hilarious pranks -- like, say, surreptitiously placing a whoopee cushion under the Speaker's seat -- are worth bonus points.
Robocalls will now be completely legal, obviously. So will actual human calls dissing and lying about opponents -- "Hello, this is Stephen Harper calling to tell you that Bob Rae wants to force all Canadians to convert to Buddhism. Also, he has herpes. Vote Conservative."
We can do away with campaign finance laws, too. Parties already sell themselves out to rich citizens and corporations, but they should also be allowed to do so with regular citizens as well -- like, for example, if you pledge a $100 donation to the Green Party Elizabeth May will come to your house and smoke a joint with you. Extra points go to any party that manages to steal money from their opponents.
MPs crossing the aisle infuriates voters -- let's ban the practice. Instead parties leaders can make trades with each other, and each party should be allowed to carry a farm team. Justin Trudeau to the Bloc for future considerations? Vic Toews sent down to the minors in favour of a hungry rookie? Perfect. We can even have a trade deadline. CBC should make a special out of it.
Also, a Survivor-style TV show would make things a hell of a lot more interesting. Will the Liberal and NDP tribes finally merge? Can the Tory majority keep it together at Tribal Council? Tune in next week.
There should be some kind of talent competition, too. A hockey tournament and American Idol-style singing competition are no-brainers and would draw huge ratings (unfortunately, Rob Ford's already taken The Biggest Loser theme). I'm also open to other suggestions on this one -- tweet me -- as long as we can all agree there's to be no swimsuit competition.
Does this sound ridiculous? Good -- that's the point. Politicians have been making us look silly for too long, it's time for payback. We've obediently played the fool, never realizing the power has been in our hands all along. Without us, government would have nothing to do, no one to govern.
Trust me, this could really work. How do I know? Because politicians will do just about anything to get you to like them. They feed off your attention and support -- that's why they're in the game in the first place. They need us, not the other way around. And if we tell them we're more likely to vote so long as they do stupid, embarrassing things for our edification, you can be sure there'll be a lot of pushing and shoving at the front of the line.
Let the games begin.