Fans of the beautiful game (which I'll agree is soccer but only to keep my soccer-fanatic friends off my back) may remember a recent video highlight from a U-20 match between Ecuador and. In this brief clip, Chilean defender Bryan Carrasco is challenging an Ecuadorean player near the Chilean goal. As the two players bump into each other, Carrasco grabs the hand of his opponent, and then strikes himself in the face with it. He then tumbles to the ground with an anguish that is reserved for the soccer pitch. Fakery like this is considered part of the general on-pitch strategy in soccer.
However, it has been more frowned upon, in recent years, as it becomes more exposed thanks to the proliferation of television coverage, and HD cameras, which now capture all of the previously unseen subtleties of elite athletics.
I had pause to consider Carrasco's fakery this morning while reviewing this morning's comments by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was trying to talk the opposition parties out of defeating the federal budget and forcing an election. Harper, who first made this appeal on Monday, suggested that the tsunami in Japan, political unrest in the Middle East and the continuing fragility of the post-recession economy should convince the opposition parties to "step back" from a non-confidence vote. The problem is, not everyone believes the Tory government in fact wants to avoid an election.
I put myself in that category. So does Tasha Kheiriddin of the National Post, who is referring to this strategy as the "big fake." The Globe's John Ibbitson also makes an elegant argument that the "ready and willing to be defeated because it strengthens Prime Minister Stephen Harper's already robust position."
The drama unfolding in Ottawa right now is really the political equivalent of Carrasco's self-inflicted blow to the face. Only it's the prime minister, striking a blow to his own face with the the hands of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP chief Jack Layton. The Tories certainly believe that Canadians will punish those responsible for forcing an election. That was certainly true in the recent past, as Ignatieff watched his personal popularity plummet after threatening to force an election in 2009. But is that cause-and-effect still in effect?
Robust turnouts for civic elections last fall seem to suggest that Canadians are ready and willing to play their part in the electoral process, as voter turnout rebounded significantly. Does that translate into a greater appetite for a federal election? Too early to say. But it might be a miscalculation to assume the opposition would be punished on e-day for forcing THIS election.
Oh, by the way, the referee bit on Carrasco's fake, hook, line and sinker.