?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile The Phrontistery Previous Previous Next Next
Silver (orange) linings - The Growlery
In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni
forthright
forthright
Silver (orange) linings
Dear fellow lefties,

So you're upset that the Conservatives have won a (smallish) majority, and now have 165 seats instead of 143. Okay, I get that. Harper's a clod, and he clearly has authoritarian tendencies, and giving him the ability to pass his legislative agenda for the next four years isn't exactly super-duper. But I want to put things into perspective.


  • 104 seats. 104. With increased representation throughout the country. Layton in Stornoway and the NDP with massive parliamentary resources that come with being Official Opposition. Seriously, guys.

  • This result came about as much because of Liberal and Bloc collapse than anything else. Don't assume that the Conservatives won because you voted NDP, or because some riding went NDP. You can't just add up the Liberal and NDP votes for a riding as a 'left' bloc and then cry "oh, woe, vote splitting". Just because the Liberals may have been your second choice doesn't mean that the NDP would have been every Liberal voter's second choice. It is very clear that a large number of traditional LPC voters (perhaps as many as half) are willing to migrate to the Conservatives before the NDP. Most of the Conservative pickups were in the 905 belt (hardly friendly territory for the NDP)

  • Remember that just seven years ago the Liberals were governing with a majority larger than what Harper will have now, and the NDP had 13 seats nationwide. This too shall pass.

  • I won't arrogantly claim that separatism is dead in Quebec, but the Bloc is reduced to a rump of, right now, 3 seats. Three. I suspect that the sovereignty movement will now pass out of federal politics. This is a good thing inasmuch as it gets rid of some artificial electoral distortions relating to first-past-the-post, but also, it gets rid of a lot of annoying separatists from Parliament.

  • But it also shows real unity in Quebec. The NDP won not only in separatist strongholds, but also in Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Lachine and Westmount-Ville-Marie, which have been Liberal anglophone strongholds since the Dawn of Time.

  • We no longer have to see Michael Ignatieff's smug face. Well, okay, he hasn't resigned yet, but he lost his seat and his party was crushed - it's just a matter of time.

  • Elizabeth May. Okay, you may not agree with her, but her presence in Parliament means that at long last, the media outlets will have to enforce their rule and give the Greens a place in leadership debates, which is long overdue.

  • Do we really think that a minority NDP-Liberal coalition would have been able to put through an aggressive left-wing agenda? Clearly not. The NDP was never going to win the most seats outright. Any coalition was going to be fragile, if it even happened - there's every likelihood that Ignatieff would have cast his lot with the Tories instead. And in any case, the likelihood that LPC + NDP > 154 was very, very small, so then you have to contend with the Bloc. Whatever they would have managed, it clearly would have been fleeting.

  • This puts to rest the 'NDP won't turn out' myth. Clearly they did, in large numbers, everywhere. The surge was real, and probably they hit it right at its maximum, to great effect.

  • Yes, Harper's Old-Timey Canadiocracy is going to put through some ridiculous legislation now and then, but they are sitting on, what, 39% of the popular vote. They are going to be thinking ahead to the next election, because 165 is hardly a comfortable majority, and they are going to have to tack to the center at least some of the time or else risk getting drummed out of office.

  • Let's reflect on what would have happened with dozens of brand-new Quebec MPs most of whom, a month ago, had absolutely no chance of winning, some of whom don't speak good French despite representing massively francophone ridings, and many of whom have absolutely no legislative experience at any level. Seriously, who takes a vacation in the middle of an electoral campaign? This gives the novices a chance to become seasoned without dumping them into roles in the government that they aren't prepared to handle, and gives the NDP a chance to build a real base of support. The NDP already gets saddled with a reputation for incompetent governance, unfairly - let's be glad not to have it compounded.

  • Layton has been playing the long game for seven years now. Remember how we laughed when he came to Montreal? Who's laughing now? October 19, 2015 is not so long.

Tags:

32 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
ankhorite From: ankhorite Date: May 3rd, 2011 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Time Flies

Do you have to wait until 2015?

Can't you force early elections?

Forgive my ignorance. *sigh*
sorceror From: sorceror Date: May 3rd, 2011 07:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Time Flies

Nope! The Conservatives have just won a majority government - they have more than half the seats in Parliament - which means that unless there's a revolt within the party, they should win every vote of confidence which comes up. Which means that there don't have to be elections until they reach the legally mandated deadline of five years. (So actually it could be as long as 2016, although it's doubtful that they'd go to the extreme limit, and I believe their own legislation theoretically requires a vote within four years.)
theweaselking From: theweaselking Date: May 3rd, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Time Flies

Harper promised set election dates, passed a law requiring set election dates... and then ignored it to call an election early because of a temporary advantage. Which is just as well, because the law was unconstitutional.
sorceror From: sorceror Date: May 3rd, 2011 08:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Bah, humbug.

  • Those 104 seats are mostly going to evaporate in the next election - maybe even before, as separatists in the NDP caucus defect to the Bloc. But certainly by the time the next election rolls around, the NDP will have been subjected to much greater scrutiny - and that will lead to their losing votes. It'll be like the ADQ in Quebec between the 2007 and 2008 elections.


  • If anything, the dominance of Quebec in the NDP caucus is going to strengthen separatism, because that's where the votes came from, damn you to hell, Mulcair. It's Mulroney all over again. We saw hints of this in Duceppe's concession speech, when he said that Quebec had decided to give *one* *last* *chance* to a federalist party. He knows damn well that the NDP cannot deliver what it has promised: when it fails, watch out. Seriously. The NDP caucus now has 61 seats in Quebec. That's seven more than the Bloc itself ever had.


  • Will Layton still be NDP leader by 2015? I'm not so sure.


  • Don't think that the Conservatives are about to bring back the death penalty, criminalize abortion, and make it legal to eat puppies. They want to win a majority next time too. And that means that the sky isn't falling (probably): they'll be far slower in bringing about changes than the Chicken Littles of the world fear. Or if they aren't, the better the chance that they'll be tossed out on their collective ear come the next election.

  • forthright From: forthright Date: May 3rd, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Bah, humbug.

    # Those 104 seats are mostly going to evaporate in the next election - maybe even before, as separatists in the NDP caucus defect to the Bloc. But certainly by the time the next election rolls around, the NDP will have been subjected to much greater scrutiny - and that will lead to their losing votes. It'll be like the ADQ in Quebec between the 2007 and 2008 elections.

    Of course the NDP will be under greater scrutiny, but it is NOT like the ADQ or Reform. The NDP has been around for 50 years, has run several provincial governments, etc., etc. If people are ignorant of what the NDP stands for it's not because no one's had the opportunity to look.

    As for the possibility of defections, are you really suggesting that members of the Official Opposition are going to defect to a party with no official status? Really really? Even if there are a bunch of crypto-separatists in the new NDP caucus (which I greatly doubt) they ain't going anywhere.

    If anything, the dominance of Quebec in the NDP caucus is going to strengthen separatism, because that's where the votes came from, damn you to hell, Mulcair. It's Mulroney all over again. We saw hints of this in Duceppe's concession speech, when he said that Quebec had decided to give *one* *last* *chance* to a federalist party. He knows damn well that the NDP cannot deliver what it has promised: when it fails, watch out. Seriously. The NDP caucus now has 61 seats in Quebec. That's seven more than the Bloc itself ever had.

    I disagree with your analysis on where the NDP vote came from. It came, in my opinion, from the fact that young Quebeckers are overwhelmingly social-democratic in politics. This is why you see orange in anglo Montreal (though it looks like Garneau hung on in Westmount, hmm?).

    But here's the thing: being in opposition gives them the perfect opportunity to say, "Hey, look, it's Harper's fault - he's the one with a majority." What you describe better suits what would have happened under a narrow Liberal/NDP coalition.

    And for the record: since when did you take anything Duceppe said as the truth? Why would we believe that this is one last chance - that's just wishful thinking by Duceppe.


    Will Layton still be NDP leader by 2015? I'm not so sure.

    Agreed, and I was using Layton as a metonym for the NDP. There are around 40 veteran NDP MPs, as well as rich resources at the provincial level, to take his place should he prove to be the Moses of the party.

    Don't think that the Conservatives are about to bring back the death penalty, criminalize abortion, and make it legal to eat puppies. They want to win a majority next time too. And that means that the sky isn't falling (probably): they'll be far slower in bringing about changes than the Chicken Littles of the world fear. Or if they aren't, the better the chance that they'll be tossed out on their collective ear come the next election.

    I absolutely agree, see my point #10 above.
    sorceror From: sorceror Date: May 3rd, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Re: Bah, humbug.

    Of course the NDP will be under greater scrutiny, but it is NOT like the ADQ or Reform. The NDP has been around for 50 years, has run several provincial governments, etc., etc. If people are ignorant of what the NDP stands for it's not because no one's had the opportunity to look.

    Perhaps the Mulroney Progressive Conservatives are a better comparison, then. They too were beneficiaries of a sea change in Quebec... but only because their leader pandered to the separatist movement. That ultimately proved untenable, and both the party and the country paid the price.

    I don't think the rest of the country realizes that Jack Layton has basically done the same thing. The NDP's "Sherbrooke Declaration" basically guts the Clarity Act, and he supports extending Bill 101 to federal jurisdictions. Once that becomes clear to the rest of the country - which still remembers the consequences of Mulroney's similar behaviour very well - it will cause problems for the NDP. They'll either have to renounce these positions, alienating their Quebec support; or reaffirm them, alienating the rest of the country.

    As for the possibility of defections, are you really suggesting that members of the Official Opposition are going to defect to a party with no official status? Really really? Even if there are a bunch of crypto-separatists in the new NDP caucus (which I greatly doubt) they ain't going anywhere.

    Lucien Bouchard did it - he left a government in which he was a Cabinet Minister. Why wouldn't others?

    Separatism isn't based on rational self-interest (or greed): it's a religion. If they think it will rekindle the separatist flame, you can be sure that any crypto-separatists in the NDP caucus will leap at the chance to leave the party in the most damaging way possible, loudly decrying how they have once again been humiliated for attempting federalism. Just you wait: it's going to happen. Mark my words.

    I disagree with your analysis on where the NDP vote came from. It came, in my opinion, from the fact that young Quebeckers are overwhelmingly social-democratic in politics.

    I think the NDP's position on (or rather, opposition to) the Clarity Act and official bilingualism was the key. If the shift wasn't basically due to former separatist, why was it the Bloc that was reduced to a rump party in Quebec, rather than the Liberals and/or Conservatives?

    Yes, it looks like Garneau held on, just barely.

    As for throwing up their hands and saying they can't do anything when the Conservatives have a majority, that just isn't going to fly. I mention Duceppe not because I think he's right, but because he demonstrated the tack that the separatist movement is now going to take. As I say above, the NDP is going to be confronted on its policies on the Clarity Act and so on - you can be sure that if the PQ wins the next provincial election as they are currently expected to do, national unity is going to be front and centre for the next few years.

    If the NPD backs off of its current positions on national unity issues, the separatists will scream once more about how humiliated they are, this was federalism's last chance, blah blah blah. And if the NDP sticks to its guns, I believe they will be soundly rejected by the rest of the country - and the separatists will scream about how the Rest of Canada wishes to thwart Quebec's legitimate aspirations, blah blah blah.
    sorceror From: sorceror Date: May 3rd, 2011 01:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Oh - and, uh, Happy Birthday? :-/
    forthright From: forthright Date: May 3rd, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Thanks!
    rumor_esq From: rumor_esq Date: May 3rd, 2011 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Wait what now? Happy (belated?) Birthday to my favourite professor!

    Edited at 2011-05-03 05:42 pm (UTC)
    ancarett From: ancarett Date: May 3rd, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
    I will be interested to see what happens within the LPC. Ignatieff is on his way out and it looks like only Bob Rae is poised to replace him. That will be a disaster, I predict, as I know people on both ends of the political spectrum who despise him for his chequered past. If he ascends and retains control going into the next election? I expect their numbers will not pick up at all in Ontario.

    There are many tyros coming into parliament, both for the Cons and the NDP. The 'legendary discipline' of the Cons will mean fewer gaffes there. I expect that the NDP's growing pains, especially in Quebec, will be interesting.

    This will also have a fallout in provincial politics both in Quebec and Ontario. The collapse of the Bloc will inflame some elements and the fate of the LPC will probably ensure that McGuinty continues his smooth transition out of power so that some other poor schmuck is left holding the bag at the end of the mandate.

    Interesting times, interesting times!
    forthright From: forthright Date: May 3rd, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
    I don't know who will replace Ignatieff. Rae, maybe, but there is a longstanding Liberal tradition of alternating anglophone/francophone, and I don't see another Toronto-area leader for the Liberals. They do still have several Montreal-area MPs ... could we see the next Trudeau? If they'd won 80 seats, no way, but Trudeau fils can stake a claim to represent the way out of this death spiral.

    ancarett From: ancarett Date: May 3rd, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
    He has the charisma, name recognition and smarts, but I would be surprised if he feels he's ready to take on the task. Definitely he'd be better for the party than Rae!
    sorceror From: sorceror Date: May 3rd, 2011 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

    Actually, I'm wondering whether my own MP, Marc Garneau, would go for it. He's a francophone with nation-wide name recognition, and leadership experience.
    intertext From: intertext Date: May 3rd, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
    It is interesting times, and I hope not in the Chinese sense.

    I found your post comforting. I don't really know enough about politics to be able to comment sensibly, but I feel a little less alarmed than I did. But I remember my mother absolutely hating Harper and being terrified of him getting in with a majority (she died the night he was first elected - appropriately, but not as the result of any cause and effect)

    Edited at 2011-05-03 03:14 pm (UTC)
    forthright From: forthright Date: May 3rd, 2011 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
    Oh, don't get me wrong, I think Harper is dangerously undemocratic in his attitudes. He's actually less dangerous in his policies, in my opinion, than in his authoritarianism and micro-managerial tendencies. We certainly have not seen a loosening of the reins at the PMO since Chretien/Martin!
    32 comments or Leave a comment