“The Prime Minister dropped the writ,” Molder said.
“He did what?” said Bimson.
“I’m afraid we’re in for an election.”
“I should think so. A Prime Minister who’s that careless is no longer fit to serve.”
“The Governor General issued the writ today.”
“I’ll bet she was angry when the Prime Minister dropped it.”
“She had no choice,” Molder explained, “unless she was prepared for a constitutional crisis. You know, like the King-Byng affair.”
“King and Byng had an affair?
In 1926, when Prime Minister Mackenzie King asked Governor General Lord Byng to dissolve Parliament and he refused.
“I should think he’d refuse,” said Bimson. “You can’t go around dissolving Parliament when members are sitting there. Someone could get hurt.”
“It’s politically risky all right.”
“Surely there are more humane ways to bring about an election.”
“Believe me, it was a difficult time for King. Among other things, his minority government was embroiled in a Customs scandal.”
“Oh, I believe you,” Bimson said. “I can think of few customs more scandalous than national figures conducting an affair in public.”
“All’s well that ends well,” Molder said. “The issue led to a change in the Governor-General’s powers. He no longer represented the British government. He represented the Sovereign.”
“Make up your mind, Molder. One was gold, the other silver.”
“Not Mackenzie King, I hope.”
“A few years later,” Molder said, “the Statute of Westminster formalized the equality of Britain and its dominions in the Commonwealth.”
“Common wealth,” Bimson said. “It sounds socialistic to me. I always wondered where the welfare state came from.”
“Anyhow,” Molder said, “King got the election he wanted, as our present Prime Minister will.”
“He may be your Prime Minister. He’s not mine.”
“It’s just an expression.”
“So is this,” said Bimson, gesturing.
“Would you be happy if he was unseated?”
“I’d be happier if he was beheaded. Maiming won’t stop him.”
“It will be a difficult, five-week campaign. We’ll be relieved when they hold the vote.”
“Hold the vote? After all that effort and expense you’d think they’d go ahead with it.”
“I don’t know what to make of this election,” Molder said. “For one thing, the polls are indecisive. For another, the first-past-the-post system discriminates against small parties.
“Forget the poles and posts. I don’t put much stock in the lumber vote. As for small parties, I avoid them. I only support candidates who throw big parties.
Molder pointed out that when the opposition is divided the government is difficult to defeat.
“Aren’t you worried about vote splitting?” he said.
“I’m in favour of it,” Bimson replied. “If I can split my vote it will count twice.”
“I’d be careful with that,” Molder said. “A faulty vote count could lead to a judicial recount.”
“I don’t mind if they recount the judges. It’s the ballots that concern me.”
“Fraud is a serious problem, Bimson. Some voters’ lists have included dead electors.”
“I’m not surprised. All Parliaments have included dead politicians.”
“The system might be fairer if we adopted proportional representation.”
“Only if we also adopted proportional taxation.”
“You think so?”
“Representation and taxation go together. The Americans fought a war over it.”
“Please, Bimson, don’t tell me it’s because they were revolting.”
“The thought never crossed my mind, until the word crossed your tongue.”
“I used to think you were apolitical,” Molder said. “Obviously I was wrong. Why, I’ll bet you play a key role in your local riding association.”
“Not really. I don’t get on well with horses.”
“Nevertheless, I can see that election day is important to you.
“Of course, it’s important to me.”
“It goes without saying that you’ll be exercising your franchise?
“I doubt I’ll have time. I’ll be too busy voting.”