I may have the Canadian election on the brain, but there is something superficial and silly at the end. I cannot burn certain images from this campaign out of my head: Stephen Harper's Fischer-Price hair, Belinda Stronach's shiny pink Coco Chanel jumpsuit (it would be a very different country today had she won the Conservative leadership), Jack Layton's action figure jaw, and a map of Canada divided once again by regional parties; blue in the West, red in Ontario, bleu et blanc au Québec, and a whole bunch of colours in the Maritimes.
The Conservatives failed to make the gains to which they felt they were entitled. The majority of their wins in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba were in rural ridings. They could not capitalize on voters' anger towards the Liberals in any urban ridings in Ontario. In fact, they were short by almost 50% of the number of seats they expected as a minimum in Ontario. With 29% of the popular vote, the majority of it coming from Alberta and the rural regions of the three other Western provinces, it is clear that Canadians by and large view them as a Western or rural party and are uncomfortable with their vision of the country. But they're a new party, so this may change.
The Bloc Québécois won as many seats this election as they did in 1993 immediately following Meech Lake and Charlottetown. The Bloc is using this as ammunition for another sovereignty debate, although it seems fairly clear that much of the vote was really anger against the Liberals for laying blame of the sponsorship scandal directly on the entire province. The Quebecois wanted someone de chez nous to represent them and who better than a party so zealous about in its love for Quebec that it wants to lop itself off from the rest of the country? After these results, I'm glad I don't live there anymore.
People from outside Quebec can only imagine the tension in the streets immediately proceeding and following 1995's sovereignty referendum. I have to admit that, even though I ended up voting "non" (ended up is the correct term in my case), the Non side annoyed me as much as the Oui side and the So-called Unity Rally . . . well, I'll just get myself in trouble with all of my English Canadian friends if I admit what I thought of that. However, any doubts I had as to my decision evaporated instantly the moment I heard Jacques Parizeau's rant of concession in which he promised revenge against the ethnic vote for the loss. In any case, the honeymoon is over and we're back to those same old issues.
Ontarians again voted overwhelmingly Liberal although the Grits did lose a significant number of seats. Not as many as had been predicted. And that was really the only surprise. Everyone, not just the Conservatives, expected much greater Tory gains, especially in Toronto's suburban 905-Belt. It just didn't translate as Ontarians, uncomfortable with the new party and with the prospect of the Bloc Québécois being the king-making party voted to maintain the status quo . . . to a certain extent.
The North and the Atlantic provinces showed interesting mixtures of all three major parties. It was here that the NDP first began making its presence felt as the polls began to close yesterday evening.
It is significant that although the Tories gained seat from over the former PCs and Alliance combined, they were down in the popular vote. Perhaps it's not fair to compare last night's popular vote results to the last election, as it is officially a different party, but they plugged themselves as The Right-Wing Party of Canada and their numbers failed to play that out.
The big winner in the popular vote was the NDP. Just about doubling their popular vote, they may just make themselves into a ruling party in a few decades, if there is still a country called Canada in a few decades. What is also interesting is that, despite Stephen Harper's claims that Canadians wanted a change and they wanted his kind of change, the only parties that made gains were the lefties, the NDP, the Bloc, and the Greens (who will not be in the House of Commons but are up in the vote nonetheless). If you combine this with the vote for the Liberals, another left-of-centre party (especially in comparison with what counts as left-of-centre in our southern neighbour), you see that almost 70% of Canadians want Canada to stay the socially and fiscally responsible, progressive country that Canada is. With no clear coalition possible in the House of Commons with the new break down, it should be interesting to see how this plays out. Maybe out leaders will actually work together to govern as we return to the days of Quebec sovereignty and Western Alientation.
As promised, the fluff: I have another new future husband. I am the luckiest guy in the world. Meet Justin Theroux, of "Mulholland Drive", "Sex and the City", and most recently, "Six Feet Under". He adds the much needed rebel element to my pantheon of husbands. Plus this one actually lives on the same continent as me and so I will have to put my money where my mouth is and cease using geography as my claimed impediment. Who wants to fly me to Hollywood?
Tomorrow: No more election. I will grace the blog with fluff!
Again With the Election
June 29, 2004
posted by GreyGuy on 29.6.04 | Permalink |
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