We’re right in the midst of election season again, and the issue of robots has yet to make an appearance on the agenda. This is an important issue! The 21st century has been here for more than five years now, and there are shockingly few homes with robots in them. I’ve seen them on sale at the Toys R Us, the Robosapiens in their elaborate display complete with Roboraptors and little Robopets for 300 bucks each. I want a Prime Minister that will provide a robot companion for every Canadian without this hefty price tag. This should be a fundamental right!
Instead, the only robot to be seen in this election campaign is Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper.
Let’s evaluate the evidence on this one. It’s true that Harper’s gestures and mannerisms frequently appear to be human. He does a convincing job of walking and talking like a politically active human being, shaking hands, flipping burgers, and kissing babies. Without careful observation, Harper could pass for a calm, rational policy-maker who makes up in intelligence what he lacks in charisma. It is relatively easy to mistake Harper for someone who is within an acceptable range of being just like you and I.
But we should not be fooled! Stephen Harper’s personality has often been described as “wooden.” I will go a step further and openly declare that it is “robotic.” While Harper succeeds in looking uncomfortable a lot of the time, particularly when the issue of equal marriage is raised, his ability to display emotion is limited beyond that. The best Harper seems to be able to manage is a sort of half-smile that I’ve heard described as “adorable” but which struggles to seem genuine. What comes across is more of a permanent state of discomfort, whether Harper is appearing in a photo-op with young children, shaking off the notion of a Conservative “hidden agenda” or using the phrase “gays and lesbians,” Harper maintains the appearance of a person profoundly wishing himself elsewhere. In fact, the only time he ever looks completely comfortable is when announcing a new economic policy or attacking Liberal mismanagement, which, admittedly, happens quite often.
If Stephen Harper, the tallest of Canada’s party leaders, is not in fact a robot, he certainly displays an abundance of robotic qualities. Only time will tell if this affects his ability to lead the country.