Elections are a process in which Canadian citizens express their preferences about who will represent and govern them. Those preferences are combined to decide which candidates will become Members of Parliament. Elections are fundamental to the operation of democracy in Canada as they are the central means by which citizens grant authority to those who govern them.
Jim Green, long-time champion of Vancouver's downtrodden, was yakking on his cellphone last week, trying to make sense of the Nov. 16 city election that swept him, and the entire left-leaning Coalition of Progressive Electors slate, into office, when he was greeted by a panhandling constituent.
To a Canadian ear, it had an all-too-familiar ring. The issue was national unity, a debate that pitted an uneasy majority worried about the breakup of the country against a disgruntled minority with a distinct identity and an ancient yearning for a measure of political independence.
B.C. Premier Glen Clark lives in a modest, shingled home on Anzio Drive on Vancouver's east side, near the Burnaby boundary. Last Tuesday night, his wife, Dale, a public school teacher, was home as usual with the couple's two young children, Reid and Layne. Around 7 p.m.
For a diplomat, words are everything, and the world's top diplomat had reason to regret some of his last week. Kofi Annan, the United Nations' secretary general, was flying back from Baghdad after negotiating the arms-inspection deal that averted a new American attack on Iraq.
His party had taken almost three years to admit the obvious - that it could not find a way to fulfil its pledge to scrap the Goods and Services tax. And the least his colleagues could do, in John Nunziata's opinion, was to wait another week for his explanation of why he had broken with them.
Among political strategists, it is sometimes known as "the barbecue factor": the manner in which a once-hot candidate ends up cooked on election day. The principal example, one that many of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's strategists recall with a shudder, is former Ontario Liberal leader Lyn McLeod.
It began as a mini-war against a specific target with a limited goal: securing Israel's northern border from Hizbollah's Katyusha rocket attacks, and doing it quickly - in time to influence the May 29 Israeli election in favor of Prime Minister Shimon Peres and his ailing peace process.
In the end, Andrew Cunanan chose to go out the way he had lived: dramatic, elusive and in control. When he was discovered last week in a houseboat in Miami Beach - just 41 blocks from where he shot Gianni Versace dead and vaulted into instant notoriety - Cunanan did not hesitate.