So we’ve all had a few weeks to digest the election results, and here’s the bottom line:
1. The percentage of Canuckistanis who got out to vote was still a dismal 61%, only 3 percentage points higher than the record low of 2008.
2. Jack Layton brought down two rival political alternatives to the Conservative Party of Canada; both the Liberals and the Bloc Québecois lost their leaders in the process, neither of whom were able to get elected in their own ostensibly safe ridings. In the process, the NDP created a viable national alternative to the CPC (consider that there are NDP ridings held in practically every major urban centre in Canada, with Montréal leading this Orange Crush.
3. The Tories have their much coveted majority, but it is a tenuous majority at best. Why? Simple – though there’s been much fear as to the prospect of a Tory majority, a quick look at the CPC’s power dynamics and structure reveals that the voter base is detached from the brains of the operation. In effect, the CPC is a party which is led by a Western Bloc (old Reform/Canadian Alliance territory out West) of social conservatives while the brains of the operation still lie somewhere between Bay Street and the 905 Area Code, ie – the ostensibly fiscal conservatives who were expertly terrified into voting Tory as a backlash against supposedly liberal NDP spending. In other words, Bob Rae. Should the Tories try to push forward the socially conservative agenda we all fear lies at the heart of their voter base, they may sufficiently alienate themselves from the more socially liberal Tories of Southern Ontario. And it is precisely these 905 voters who may just as easily vote Liberal the next time around. That being said, I doubt Harper will push through anything overly draconian on the Canadian public, lest they want a repeat of 1993 in five years time.
4. The NDP Caucus is one of the youngest and most diverse in Canadian history, and it’s about fucking time. I fully expect this Opposition to doggedly attack the CPC on every single piece of legislation put forward. Herein lies the strength of the NDP; I think the NDP will probably act far more in unison than the CPC, and that’s as a result of the leadership accepting diverse and differing opinions amongst the elected representatives. While the Tories attempt to stifle independent thought by tactlessly badgering the membership into towing the party line, the NDP does not. Which do you think will give way first? It’s difficult to become egomaniacal in an environment that thrives on difference of opinion and a pursuit of common ground. In other words, the NDP may be able to convince other parties to vote their way, and may be able to convince so-called ‘red tories’ on the other side of the aisle to pursue a more socially-responsible agenda. Again, this is an NDP strength; they are stronger for representing a broader potential electorate. We can’t get caught up in a fundamentally incorrect view that only the CPC will be pushing forward any new legislation; the NDP will do this as well.
5. The biggest issue is Québec, and Québec has spoken in a fashion as distinct as the culture represented therein – a massive push for a federalist, though intriguingly sovereignist (read – individual sovereignty), social democratic party. In other words, Harper’s attempt to unify two competing ‘thought-blocs’, the Western and Québecois, has failed miserably. This was key to Mulroney’s breakthrough in 1984 and has been part of Conservative thinking for some time, as both rural Québec and the rural West share similar socially Conservative views. Well, not any more, Québec has taken a major gamble, and it is unlikely Harper will do anything to provoke any sort of political reaction from a province and people now diametrically opposed to CPC ideology. Rather than make us weaker (by not having many Tory representatives), the CPC will likely have to pay special attention to the NDP as champion of the Québec vision for Canada.
In any event, just what I think moving forward, let me know what you think. As you can tell, I’m still pretty optimistic.