January 24, 2006

Welcome, Blue Overlords.

Tonight, Canada voted for some change. Not the greatest possible change, mind you. But enough to make a point. Canada voted more for what it wanted to leave behind -- a tired, relatively corrupt, bitterly divided old party with a leader who found passion only in times of crisis and direction at no time at all -- than for what it wanted in its place.

What we get in place of the Liberal Party remains a bit of a mystery. Without a majority, the Conservative Party of Canada will likely have to stay a somewhat moderate course, as it did during the campaign. But many Canadians don't equate the new Conservatives with the old Tories and certainly don't believe in the dramatic evolution of Stephen Harper and the ex-Alliance/Reform. Even beyond their concerns with the published Conservative platform, they remain suspicious of the unanswered questions, the too-finely managed campaign, and the lack of media access to those candidates less palatable to mainstream Canadian taste.

There were no major surprises tonight, with the exception of the Bloc, which unexpectedly lost both popular vote and seats. Hooray! No significant gain for the Greens, sadly, in either total vote or, as expected, in seats. Relative to expecations set by polls in recent weeks, it is likely that only the NDP will be deeply (even if not fully) satisfied this evening. The Bloc had dreamed of 50%, the Greens of 5% and perhaps a seat, the Liberals of a last-minute reprieve, and the Conservatives, appropriately humbly, of a majority. The CBC keeps doing the Conservative + NDP math, but I'm not sure it matters much.

Here in Ottawa Centre, Broadbent buddy Paul Dewar trailed Liberal Richard Mahoney early on but came back to win the riding handily.

Elsewhere? Belinda Stronach and Scott Brison prevailed as cross-over Liberals, Michael Ignatieff survived a tougher-than-expected election to win in Toronto, and Olivia Chow finally broke through in the same city for Trinity-Spadina. A handful of ex-Ontario Cabinet Ministers won across Ontario, while NDPers Nystrom, (ex-GG) Schreyer, and Svend "my precioussss" (sorry) Robinson couldn't pull off comebacks. Ralph Goodale won easily despite the income trust investigation, but fellow Prairie/Western Liberal stalwarts Reg Alcock and Anne McLellan are fighting to hold on to their seats, and Pierre Pettigrew seems headed for a fall.

Quebec star candidate Marc Garneau lost his riding and, having given up cushy CSA and Carleton appointments, just begged for a job on national TV. That scene basically sums up the kind of campaign and election night result it was -- how the mighty have fallen, how the results are deserved and yet still somewhat disatisfying, and how Canadian politics have become kind of embarassing and awkward. With that ... good night, and see you on the other side.

Posted by anatole at January 24, 2006 12:03 AM

I'm oddly on the other side...got up at 5 am local time to watch the leaders speeches. Got to see Paul Martin's bombshell; his first act to unite the party since he took over.

I agree quite strongly with what one friend of mine said:

"What I like about it [the result] is that it sends a lot of signals which I agree with - need for Liberal renewal, desire for federalism, a strong NDP, but also change in general."

Hard to think about this result as 'good (stable) government.' If we are getting sustained minority governments, it supports the idea of proportional representations, but I guess it's a moot point this time because the conservatives aren't exactly in favour.

We'll all have to sleep on it.

Posted by: Mike at January 24, 2006 02:55 AM

One quick addition...I just finished a Banzhaf Power analysis (looks at the relative importance of the different parties by counting the number of voting situations where their vote would make a difference) of the new parliament and what things would look like under simple PR. It looks like the NDP lost out big time...


Posted by: Mike at January 24, 2006 05:00 AM

"Got to see Paul Martin's bombshell"

Yeah, so did we, 5 minutes after we had to send our first edition to the presses. Do these people not understand the news cycle?!?

For your riding roundup, I would like to add Parry Sound-Muskoka, where Tony Clement won by a grand total of 21 votes. Automatic recount? Um, yeah.

Posted by: Alasdair at January 24, 2006 01:36 PM

I'm nervously doing the Conservative-Bloc math, myself. Not sure exactly where these two parties would find common ground, but I'm afraid politics might make strange bedfellows. And both Quebec and the Western provinces have provincialist leanings, no?

Posted by: Tyla at January 24, 2006 10:51 PM

Anatole, is your title here actually a reference to M.U.L.E.? If so it's totally brilliant.

If not, just ignore me.

Oh, and I'm bummed the Greens didn't win any seats. Time to get rid of first-past-the-post systems, methinks.

But I am excited about the possible shake-up the Tories could bring in.

Posted by: George at January 26, 2006 11:07 PM