It took a mere three days for 400,000 people to sign up electronically to This Hour Has 22 Minutes' petition demanding a referendum on whether Stockwell Day should change his name to Doris. By the second day of the drive, you couldn't escape the flurry of forwarded e-mails. I got 15 copies of the message on Tuesday alone, and a dozen more throughout the week.
Clearly, the Internet has become a major force in Canadian politics. Or has it? Jean Chretien has spoken vaguely about "skills and innovation in the 21st century," but there hasn't been much concrete discussion about new technology and how the parties plan to foster Canada's role in the new economy .
The Web sites of the parties hoping to snare your vote Monday aren't much better. Most official sites offer only dry rehashings of their established platforms and updated schedules of where the leaders will be on any given day. Bo-ring.
None of the four major parties seems to have grasped the Web's potential to enhance, or at least liven up, their campaigns.
The Liberals' site -- www.liberal.ca -- offers strictly the basics: dry recounting of the party's achievements and goals for their next mandate. There's no reference to the increasingly personal battles with the Alliance that have come to characterize the campaign.
www.canadianalliance.ca is more of the same, plugging policies and platforms and slamming those who try to poke holes in the Alliance's slick image.
www.pcparty.ca is a bit more entertaining. The site includes streams of the PC party's commercials as well as bizarre, context-free shots of Joe Clark's photogenic daughter, Catherine, a nice link to the online video news site epress.ca and an e-mail address for Clark. He's apparently a Hotmail subscriber.
The very orange www.ndp.ca has the mildly amusing NDP Surreality Check, their spin on the other parties' platforms, including an animated reworking of Stockwell Day's debate card tricks.
www.blocquebecois.org is in French.
Move off into the fringes and things get a bit more more entertaining.
The Natural Law party's site, www.natural-law.ca, comes with an interplanetary front page and an explanation of the benefits of yogic flying, but no mention of deceased former candidate and illusionist Doug Henning. At the Communist party's home, www.communist-party.ca, you can buy a handy Karl Marx daily desktop calendar, complete with quotations to help raise your spirits.
The Marijuana party, www.marijuanaparty.com, is surprisingly serious for a group dedicated exclusively to the legalization of weed. It offers links to a dozen similar parties around the world, but not to High Times magazine.
Not surprisingly, especially in light of Rick Mercer's referendum coup, those who have made the most of the Net during the election are the folks taking a shot at the leadership hopefuls, particularly Stockwell Day.
There are several anti-Alliance sites, each a bit more scathing than the next. Alliance Exposed tries to cash in with a trick address -- www.canadianallianceparty.net -- and takes a serious look at why people shouldn't vote Alliance. The site includes a strategic, nationwide anti-Alliance voting list and dissections of assorted Day speeches.
www.daywatch2000.com is an animated Baywatch parody with a pumped-up Day riding a Jet Ski around saving the rich and letting the poor drown. Two episodes are up now, with a third imminent.
The harshest of the bunch, though, is Stockwell StockwellDork.com -- www.idig.net/~flick/stock/main.html -- which flat-out characterizes Day as the second coming of Mussolini, complete with doctored photos of Day as Il Duce and fake propaganda youth recruitment posters. Check it out before the lawsuits start flying. email@example.com
The American people might not be able to pick a president, but they can vote to decide whether someone is attractive or not.
Here, vain surfers send in photos of themselves
and then are voted on by viewers, on a scale of one to 10. There's nothing nasty or offensive, but it is very funny and brut- ally honest. Democracy at work.