Hit the road, eh!

Expect Canadians to say today that this election changed nothing and the Liberals are the same as the Conservatives. Expect them to bemoan the falling stock of the NDP, who were seen as too much of a long shot against the Tories. Nevertheless, in four years, Justin Trudeau’s party went from about 30-odd seats in Parliament to, oh, about 190. Canadians are very, very sick of Stephen Harper and the Bush-style politics he represents and they did a marvelous job of voting against him. Canadians will naturally try to downplay the importance of this election, as they do everything with everything that happens in their country off the ice. But this one was significant.

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44 thoughts on “Hit the road, eh!

  1. It certainly is significant, agreed, it’ll be interesting to see whether this is a one time Liberal resurgence due to Harpers unpopularity or whether they have regained their mojo as Canada’s natural leadership party. After all, the left side of the electorate remains split between them and the NDP while the right is undivided.
    Also interesting, this means that the administrations that led the big anti AGW duo (Australia and Canada) on the international scene are both out on their asses.

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    • That’s a good point. I wonder how big a part that played in his ouster. In the States, there’s more of a debate about AGW, but here it feels more like the consensus is that yes it exists, yes it’s a real problem, but we’re making a mint on oil right now so we don’t care.

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          • The Conservative in my old nana’s riding (South Shore-St Margaret) found himself facing a vote splitting independent opponent on his right when he came out in favor of same sex marriage before the 2011 elections. He still won, and retired this term, and the Liberal obliterated the competition this go around.

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          • The Conservatives lost seats in pretty much every major metropolitan area, and were completely wiped out in Toronto (which accounts for over 50 of the country’s 338 Parliamentary seats, so nothing to sneeze at). Toronto is also, coincidentally, very much a city of immigrants. Playing the xenophobia card was not a smart move for the Conservatives, especially not after they spent the 2008 and 2011 campaigns deliberately courting ethnic minorities communities and made some gains from it.

            In contrast, pretty much anyone the xenophobia pitch would have appealed to was already voting Conservative.

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              • I’m mostly bummed that we lost some very good, strong NDP seats in and around Halifax.

                It’s pretty stunning to see one region of the country go 100% for a single party, though. As soon as I saw that it was clear something was up, although I still wasn’t convinced the Liberals would get a majority until the results from Ontario and Québec came in.

                We just elected a schoolteacher who crowdsourced his platform. Interesting to see how it turns out.

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    • If the Liberals keep their campaign promise of electoral reform (which I really really hope they do) then the very concept of a “natural governing party” will probably become obsolete.

      Precisely because the right is united but only about 30-40% of the electorate, and each of the centrish/leftish parties have about a 20% immovable support base, PR will basically never produce single-party majorities.

      My personal hope is that the whole schtick of deliberately undermining minority governments in the hopes that the mass disenfranchisement of first-past-the-post will this time work out in your favour, will rapidly become part of “the bad old days”, and parties will be forced to actually compromise and persuade and work with more than the bare minimum of respect for colleagues across the aisle.

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    • The Liberals promised electoral reform if they won – their website says outright, “We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system”. If they actually followed through, it would end the problem of the left splitting the vote. (Personally, I favour a simple ranked ballot, aka Alternative Vote or AV. It’s the easiest method to understand and to implement, and it encourages candidates to be less hostile to each other in order to be the second choice of voters in other parties.)

      However, I highly doubt Liberals – ever the party of the establishment – are going to choose to overhaul a system that just handed them a majority with 39% of the vote.

      I’m disappointed about the NDP defeat, but that it what happens when a leftist party moves so far to the centre that it can’t be easily distinguished from its competition. And I have to admit that charisma is not one of Thomas Mulcair’s qualities.

      On a utterly frivolous note – for the first time since 2008, our head of government is prettier than yours! Take that, America! :D

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  2. Rufus can you give us a rundown of what issues were in play? When you say “Bush-style politics,” are you referring to foreign military adventures, deficit-expanding fiscal policies, religion-driven social agenda, arrogance in leadership style, or… what was it about Harper that Canadians rejected?

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    • My view of it was the specifically Bush-esque highlights were
      – arrogance in leadership (even the cabinet ministers were becoming reduced to yes-men who didn’t even really run their nominal portfolios, but just spouted whatever the PMO told them)
      – extreme aversion to knowledge (scrapping the census, defunding any kind of science that might have informed policy)
      – populist dog-whistle xenophobia

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      • All that and more. What I mean in specific is that when the race looked close for a brief time, Harper tried a lot of culture war fear mongering: suddenly taking a “stand” against women wearing Islamic head coverings while working public service jobs or taking the citizenship oath, passing a law against “barbaric cultural practices” that were already illegal, referring to his voters as “old stock Canadians”, trying to make the race about terrorism, and so forth that were intended to peel off some votes in Quebec and bolster his support in the prairies, but which happened to coincide with his numbers dropping like a stone.

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        • In fairness, Harper did seriously damage the NDP in Quebec. The Quebecois are quite jittery about culture questions. The lost voters, though, went to the Libs which was exactly what Harper needed not to happen. Also it hurt him badly outside of Quebec.

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            • And I know people who vote Liberal who swore that they’d vote NDP if necessary to get rid of Harper. I think it was a lot about perceptions/momentum. If the Grits had been declining and the NDP was on top immediately before the election we might have seen the same thing just for the NDP instead.

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              • There is pretty good evidence that there is currently a block of 15-25% of the Canadian electorate that is broadly centre-left but not particularly partisan, and will align with either of the Liberals or NDP according to circumstances.

                In 2011 defections from this block from the Liberals to NDP in the last weeks of the election went a long way towards Igantiff getting slaughtered and Layton having the best week in federal NDP history.

                Another big factor though was how good the Liberal GOTV was this time around. If you look at the numbers compared to last time around the big difference isn’t that the Conservatives lost that many votes, its that the Liberals seemed to have found a way to get a whole bunch of new people to vote for them. That’s probably what brought this from a Liberal win to a Liberal majority.

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  3. The Canadians I know are jubilant and relieved. The *most* negative thing I’ve seen in my FB feed is the adjective “bittersweet” (and yes, that was in relationship to the falling stock of the NDP).

    I was actually surprised by how straightforwardly pleased and even hopeful my social circles are with the victory of a party they regularly snarked about a year ago.

    I think I underestimated HOW much most people were sick of Harper. Turns out they felt just as strongly as my mom did.

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  4. My Canadian friends are also overjoyed by the liberal sweep.

    It seems like a lot of Canadians did strategic voting to get Harper out and the Liberals in. The most interesting thing is how the Liberals went from collapse to being a majority party.

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  5. nevermoor:
    I just hope Jon Oliver gets to keep his $5,000.

    He will. That law never meant you couldn’t express an opinion to a Canadian about an election about who to vote for. “Induce” in the this case means things like give money or favours in return for effecting an election.

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  6. You know, speaking as someone who lives less than 150 miles from the Canadian border, I feel like I know shockingly little about our closest neighbor. I would love to see one of the Canadian OT’ers do a post that’s a sort of a Canadian political primer — something like an explanation of how Canadian government works combined with a broad-strokes overview of the post-WWII political history of the country (if that’s a good starting point, maybe it’s not).

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