Well, it’s all over but the shouting. The longest election in Canadian campaign history ended with a triumphant Liberal sweep and a significant defeat for the Harper Conservatives.
The NDP also took a drubbing because it appears that when Thomas Mulcair turned right, Justin Trudeau went left and the rest, they say, is history. The Green Party ran excellent candidates in BC but suffered from two important factors: May was shut out of the English language debate and it appears that the Green Party was the victim of strategic voting. Corporate media behaved badly too when it came to Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and Canadians learned what damage is caused from exclusion.
Among my friends and neighbours, the fear mongering used by the Conservatives translated to a fear that Harper might win again and for all the people I talked to, such a prospect was unthinkable. Fortunately for Canada, the Conservatives’ campaign of fear turned on them and propelled Canadians like never before to make sure that Harper and his like-minded Conservatives would not see daylight on the morning of October 20th. Voters bit the Conservatives hard on October 19th and rightly so.
Pundits, big media and social media are all buzzing with the usual analyses and commentaries this week. The gist seems to be that this long election campaign was about effective campaigning on the ground, inspired leadership, dedicated volunteers and hard work. It was also about a compelling narrative across the country — that the Harper Conservatives had damaged the Canada we knew and loved, and that their cloud of bigotry, cynicism and anger had to be lifted from our federal political landscape if Canada and our national pride were to be restored. How compelling this belief was can be measured by record voter turn-out, organized campaigns by non-partisan advocacy groups, unprecedented engagement of youth and Aboriginal peoples, and impressive efforts by Canadian voters to vote during advance polls. Change was coming and we could feel it.
In the end, the country resurrected the Liberal Party and gave Justin Trudeau an overwhelming majority and mandate to bring Canada back from the brink. The message of hope that Trudeau so effectively parlayed into an incredibly successful campaign overcame fear, his promise of a better and more compassionate Canada overcame the bleak status quo and youthful vitality overcame Harper’s drab and dreary image on the hustings. The NDP, favoured to form government at the beginning of the campaign, also stumbled with Mulcair and, regrettably, never regained its balance.
Advice for the NDP is coming from many quarters, bringing to mind the following quote: “Winning makes you happy but losing makes you wise.” Many believe that it’s time for the NDP Party to muster its collective wisdom and dig deep, soul-search and begin to re-build; the party needs new energy, new ideas and a new identity. It’s not enough to blame the Greens or any other party for the NDP’s failure to resonate with Canadians; the party missed the boat again, conjuring up the memory of the failed 2013 British Columbia provincial election campaign when the NDP “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.” With respect, it seems that the NDP has a lot of internal work to do and perhaps sitting down with Premier Rachel Notley of Alberta might be a wise first step.
Yes, the new Liberal government now enters the “honeymoon stage” but let’s face it, it has been a long time since we have seen so much joy and relief on the faces of so many Canadians. Among my own family and friends, there were tears on election night when it was evident that the Liberals would win — not necessarily because they were all Liberal supporters but because the Liberal victory spelled the end of Stephen Harper’s dynasty and his strangle hold on our democracy.