Canadian Elections: Who Won?
Ah, it is a simple quesiton, no? Who won the 2008 Canadian Federal election? It just happened yesterday, so the results should be obvious, shouldn’t they?
In my opinion, yes and no. Let’s take a look.
(Steven Harper celebrated the Conservative’s victory by reorganizing his filing cabinet.)
The Conservatives: It’s easy to automatically say that the Conservative Party won this election because they had the most MP’s elected to Parliament, and therefor will keep their mandate to form the Canadian goverment. So, yes, they “won”. But, I don’t think that all members and supporters of the Conservative Party will agree when looking at the bigger picture. Whether or not Prime Minister Steven Harper said so – and to be clear he claimed that his goal was a minority government and he didn’t believe that he was able to capture a majority – but if you believe that then let me tell you that I used to be a Rhodes Scholar and invented the resevoir tip for condoms. In other words, for those slower than I am, it’s a crock of shit.
The Conservatives weren’t performing badly, their base was holding tight, and they were making ground in Quebec and Ontario, and their main rivals, the Liberals, were (and still are) in leadership turmoil and are as factuous and disjointed as they have been during my lifetime. Don’t forget about the looming economic crisis, and the fact that sitting governments usually don’t do well with the electorate if they are in power during major economic upheavals, whether or not they deserve the ire of the people. It was the perfect time for Harper to try for a majority government, and waiting any later would jeopardize any chance for it to happen.
Did the Conservatives win? They were the winning party, and they increased the strength of their minority government, but they lost. They are heading into a major economic challenge with a minority government. They will have a grace period as the Liberals sort out their mess and work towards finding a new leader, but when the new Lib leader is in place and secure, it’ll only be a matter of time before they take down the government and call another election. I give Harper two more years at most.
Success: Won a second minority government, increased number of members of parliament.
Challenges: Missed great chance to secure a majority government. Still no success in major cities outside of western base of support. Making it appear that Harper has a soul.
(Stephan Dion is, reportedly, still in the closet crying about the unfair universe.)
The Liberals: The week before the election Liberal leader, Stphane Dion, was slowly starting to fit the role of ‘Leader’. Oh, he wasn’t there yet, but he was showing glimpses of potential, and, therefor, was becomming a less futile choice for disgruntled voters. For a while there was even talk of a Liberal minority.
Anyway, the Liberals, who are Canada’s traditional default ruling party, had their worst results since the 1980’s when Mulroney ruled this land. The party is fractious with – seemingly – few in the party feeling really comfortable with Dion as leader.
To put it bluntly and to the point, the Liberals are in trouble…shambles…swimming with the poop.
This election the Liberals were the biggest loser. They lost support, they lost ridings, and their power is drained. They are the oldest existing party in Canada, and, perhaps, are starting to show signs of the wear and tear of years.
Success: Nobody was killed.
Challenges: Finding a new leader to reinvigorate the Canadian voters. The government is the Liberals to lose. Rediscovering their purpose. Losing their attitude.
(Jack Layton celebrated a solid NDP showing by twirling his moustache.)
The New Democratic Party: The NDP won more seats and had a greater share of the popular vote for the third straight election after having fallen to a measley thirteen seats in 2000. Jack Layton claimed that he was running not to be a social conscious alternate political choice for Canadians, as per usual, but to be the Prime Minister of Canada.
Of course no one really believed him.
Ultimately the goal was to hope for a Liberal collapse which would result in great gains for the NDP, leading to official oppositions status, which would have been a coup for this party. Although the party did well in this election, they didn’t do as well as they had hoped.
Are the NDP winners or losers in this election? This is a tough call. Layton didn’t accomplish his stated goals, but under his leadership the party has slowly been gaining traction within the Canadian political consciousness as a valid federal option.
I call this one a draw for the Ndippers.
Success: Increased number of seats in parliament. Increased percentage of the popular vote. Won a seat in Quebec. Layton still has the coolest moustache in Canadian politics.
Challenges: Continuing to grow the base of support. Smoking less pot.
(Elizabeth May celebrated by going on an orgiastic carbon-letting frenzy, which included; driving an SUV, burning coal, and punching a hippy in the face.)
Green Party: The Green Party really has nothing to lose. This is, if I remember correctly, the first federal election where the Green Party ran a candidate in all ridings, except for the one contested by Liberal leader Stephan Dion, as per agreement between he and Green leader Elizabeth May. That is, in itself, a victory for this young party.
Their realisitic hopes for this election was to grow their popular vote, and challenge – with thoughts of winning – a riding or two. The didn’t win a riding, but they did increase their vote by almost 2.5%, and a good number of candidates finished third, with at least one candidate – May – finishing second.
I have to consider this a victory for the Greens. They are slowly increasing their acceptance as a viable party. It’s a tough haul in Canadian politics, but I think the Greens have now made it to the next level as a Federal Party. It’s now time for the party to step back and consider what their future is, and where they want to take the party.
It’s a win for the Greens.
Success: Ran a candidate in all but one riding. Improved performance over last election. Competitive in a handful of ridings.
Challenges: Increasing base of support. Determining if having another competitive party on the left is viable in Canadian politics.
(Giles Duceppe celebrated a solid showing by sacrificing an anglophone to the gods of French.)
Bloc Quebecois: Canada’s oxymoronic federal sepratist party didn’t collapse like many were predicting up for most of the run up to the election. The Bloc came away with a similar result to the 2006 election where they won 51 seats in Quebec. This election they carried 50 seats.
On the other hand they did drop half a percentage point in the popular vote. This may not seem like a significant drop, but keep in mind that they only run candidates in one province, Quebec, and the percentage quoated is based on federal results, so the drop is much more significant than the number indicates.
Moving into the future, with the separatist movement apparently stalled and experiencing fatigue, many will continue to question the relevancy of the BQ. They, obviously, have no hope of forming the federal government, and have only slim hope of forming the official opposition. Then again, the BQ’s success in Quebec was the foil to the Conservative government obtaining a majority; many will consider that a success.
Did the BQ come away winners of this election? I think so. The exceeded expectations, and affected the face of federal politics. On the other hand, though, how relevant is this party in the modern political era? Other than their seperatist platform their main role is as a leftist party, of which we, arguably, already have three. Nonetheless, this election was a win for the BQ, and they did as well as could be expected.
Success: Maintained representation in parliament. Showed that there is still significant support for the BQ.
Challenges: Proving the party is still relevant. Obvious drop in support.