As my fellow citizens all know, Canadians go to the polls today to elect new members of parliament. In every constituency, called a riding, voters select on their ballot one candidate, and the candidate who receives the most votes, even if it isn't a majority, become the elected representative for that riding. The party represented by the majority of elected candidates will most probably then be asked by the Governor-General to form a government, and that party's leader will become the next (or remain the current) Prime Minister of Canada.
Foreigners can test their knowledge of Canadian politics and Canadians can try to guess the punchline of the cartoon below.
I'd explain the inverted punchline for non-Canadians, but it's spelled out under the cartoon here. Americans probably think it's wacky, but I remind you that we think the same of your primaries.
Instead I'll throw in a linguistics tidbit and tell you the origin of the Canadian word riding. Old Norse influence in what is now northern England produced the word þriðing, which sounds like 'thriving' except with the v replaced with the th sound from this, and which means "third part." Yorkshire, for example was divided into three, the North, South and East. Say North Thrithing a few times and it quickly loses the second consecutive th sound and from there it morphed into something that folk etymologies often dream up a scenario with candidates canvassing potential voters on horseback. I wish. It would be a lot more entertaining than the autodialled calls I keep getting.
I've heard from the Liberals twice, the NDP once and the Conservatives, Greens and others not at all. Make that the Liberals three times. They literally called again while I was finishing that sentence. Also I saw the the Bloc Quebecois campaign bus yesterday on the tarmac, collecting BQ candidates from what was presumably their campaign aircraft, but I didn't have my camera with me. Too bad, it is definitely the coolest campaign aircraft of all the parties, and I can't find a picture of it online. Here is what it looks like. A Convair 580 turboprop still mostly in Nolinor colours. It was facing me head on, so I didn't see if it had BQ decals, too. They made the news last week doing a go around for sudden wind gusts in Gaspé. Love those massive propellers.
Both the Conservative and NDP campaigns are flying Airbus 319s chartered from Air Canada. It's a good thing for them that the Leafs didn't make the playoffs, because I think one of the airplanes might have gone to the hockey team if they had.
Can you guess by the decals on the Airbuses which party is more popular than its leader and which leader is more popular than his party?
The Liberals have leased an American-made Boeing 737-400 from Enerjet in Calgary. They had to scramble for an airplane last election because Air Canada couldn't spare any more A319s, so this year they booked in advance. This may be a picture from a previous campaign, because the FlightAware site records nothing since a Frobisher Bay-Kelowna flight two years ago, but I think they have the same type this year.
The Green leader Elizabeth May took a train last year, but this year I guess she's buying airline tickets. Or maybe riding a horse.