So, for the second time in our country’s history, we’ve got a third straight minority government. It’s also the first time Canada has elected back-to-back Tory minorities which probably isn’t overly significant, but it’s a fun bit of trivia (if by “fun” you mean “horribly depressing”). Yes, it’s a disappointing result, but there were many times this campaign when I was expecting far worse. As the saying goes in Toronto, for both politics and hockey, “there’s always next year”.
So what does it all mean?
Well, for The Greens, it’s another ballot box let down. They got into the debates. May got heaps of media attention. They ran TV ads. But the end result was only a minor uptick in support – 6.5%. May’s suicidal decision to run in Central Nova now means they’ll be on the outside looking in for the next two years.
The NDP may be the big winners of the night. This will be their second highest seat total in party history, which is scary because it means a dozen years from now, the future NDP leader will be name-dropping “Jack Layton” the way “Ed Broadbent” gets tossed around these days (that gives me the same queasy feeling I get when it occurs to me that the top 40 music of today will one day be a “golden oldie”). The wins in Edmonton Strathcona and Outremont are especially significant for obvious reasons. Sure, Jack had to abandon NDP idealism, make bad sweater jokes, and say the words “kitchen table” 42,000 times to get it done, but he got it done. Which means we’ll see an even more self-confident Jack Layton in the house for the next two years.
The Bloc still doesn’t have a raison d’être, but they have another 50 government of Canada pensions so they’ll be pleased with the results. Duceppe and the Bloc have been left for dead time and time again…maybe it’s time we realized that, unfortunately, they’re here to stay. These results will let Duceppe leave on a high – I would be very surprised if he sticks around to fight another campaign.
I’ll have a lot to say about the Liberal Party over the next few days but, for now, I agree 100% with everything Andrew Coyne said on the CBC tonight. We’re looking at 5 or 6 Liberal seats in Western Canada tonight. We’re looking at a party that can’t out fundraise the NDP. In short, we’re looking at a party with many deep-rooted, endemic problems. This is the lowest popular vote total in the history of the party – but anyone who thinks this was a blip on a radar (just like 2006 was an Adscam blip, right?) and that a fresh coat of paint will mean a string of Liberal majorities is deluding themselves. The one bright spot in this is that it will be a small, but impressive, Liberal caucus. Dion, Rae, Ignatieff, Kennedy, Dryden, Hall Findlay, Goodale, Dosanjh, Trudeau, Garneau, LeBlanc, Dhalla, Holland…I could name a dozen more quality MPs easily. It’s a great team and I don’t think they’ll need to worry about the NDP outshinning them in the House.
And that brings us to the victors. I completely buy the Tom Flannagan theory that Harper is trying to crush the Liberal Party and that another Conservative minority is a step in that direction. Of course they would have loved to have the majority Quebec denied them, but I don’t think there are any regrets on team Tory after this one. The backlash to the relatively benign culture cuts and justice reforms sends yet another message to Harper that he must moderate his party or pay the electoral consequences. Having watched the man for a few years now, I think he’ll take that message to heart.
Oh, and 58% voter turn-out? That’s a sign all the parties have failed.
Election Night Live Blog
6:24 pm: I just got back from casting a ballot for Liberal candidate Christine Innes. It was really a no brainer – say what you will about strategic mistakes the Liberals may have made, but in my opinion they offer Canadians the best platform, the best government, and the best Prime Minister.
It appears the election party I’ll be at tonight will have wireless, so be sure to tune in here for results and commentary. And, by “tune in here”, I mean “tune in here after 10 pm eastern” as it appears the Elections Canada/Liberal Party conspiracy does not give Liberal bloggers immunity from blackout rules. But, come 10:01, the fun begins! Snark! Trivia! The exact same results you can find on any TV broadcast!
7:52 pm: My text message from Halifax tells me that the the Newfoundland results are now – Liberal 6 and NDP 1. So if these trends hold, we’re looking at a 264 seat Liberal majority!
8:21 pm: Signs things are going bad for the Tories in Quebec: Even their own Cabinet Ministers aren’t voting for themselves.
9:05 pm: May goes down, which is a shame since she’s kind of grown on me this campaign. The sad thing is, there were probably a dozen ridings she could have won.
9:43 pm: The CBC calls a riding for the NDP with SIX votes cast so far. Well, while we’re at it, I’m gonna go out on a limb and call Crowfoot for the Tories with…ZERO votes reporting.
9:53 pm: The NDP is in the game in Fort McMurray…perhaps the Danny Williams effect?
10:01 pm: And we’re live! CBC has called it for the Tories. The Ontario numbers are looking really bad for the Liberals, with the Dipper pulling votes away from them; a majority is still possible. Jack’s down. Ken Dryden is down. Ruby Dhalla is down. But the most surprising result of the night is that the Conservatives are winning the STUDENT election vote. Because nothing plays to 17 year olds like a promise to cut the tax of diesel!
10:28 pm: The CBC has yet to call Calgary Southwest for Harper. Guys, I think you can make that bold plunge.
btw, anyone else notice how the Green candidates are all either 22 year old women or guys with big bushy beards?
10:41 pm: High profile races: Trudeau up, Kennedy up, Turner defeated, Fortier defeated, Mulcair down. And my cryptic Alberta post may come true, but not necessarily how I intended it to – an independent Conservative is neck and neck for the lead in Edmonton Sherwood Park.
10:57 pm: Conservatives at 145…boy those 55 million in culture cuts are sure looking costly now.
Conservative headquarters is watching CBC – imagine that!
11:11 pm: Gerard Kennedy elected in Parkdale High Park which I’m very glad to see. After having door knocked there a few times this campaign I was really worried, so JE and the entire campaign team deserves a hearty congrats for their great job! Despite the seat loses, the Liberal caucus looks like it will be a strong one.
11:25 pm: Outremont neck and neck right now.
12:45 pm: Linda Duncan is now up in Edmonton Strathcona…if she hangs on, I’ll win $20, to go with the $60 I’ll take from three separate “not a majority” bets. So that’s good. And seeing Jaffer booted and the Alberta monolith being broken up is icing on the cake.
An NDP win I take less satisfaction in is Trinity Spadina…just once it would be nice to vote for a winner. Hell, I’d take voting for a winner on American Idol at this point.
I noticed Tony Clement’s margin of victory has gone from 28 votes to…11,000 votes. Eek.
Harper’s at the podium now. I see Ben and Rachel are up late…on a school night. Tsk Tsk. I’m shocked Ben wanted to be seen with his dad, given that he’s at that age when blah blah blah…
Very good speech by Harper. Very gracious and Prime Ministerial. But, then again, he is the Prime Minister. *sigh*