So the federal election is over and as you can see we have a Conservative majority government with the NDP as the official opposition. So.. what the hell happened? Weren’t the NDP supposed to win? (No). Weren’t the polls showing that Harper wasn’t going to win a majority? (No).
So what happened? A number of things:
- Canada has four socially progressive/liberal parties up against a united Conservative front. This is something I’m not seeing most people talk about: the Conservatives had to do next to nothing to win this election. Think about it: let’s say you have a riding where you have a Liberal candidate with a razor-thin margin over the Conservative candidate (which is what happened in Ontario and British Columbia). Suddenly the ‘orange crush’ NDP surge comes along and gains votes. Where are those votes coming from? The Liberals. So guess who ends up in third place? The Liberals. Guess who ends up in second place? The NDP. The Conservatives, in a scenario like this one, don’t have to do anything. They can just sit there and take the seat while the NDP and the Liberals fight for votes. And yes, this did happen to a certain degree last night.
- People not understanding polls. Guys… listen. The polls were saying the Conservatives had 34-43% of the vote. In order to win a majority Harper needed at least 155 seats - the percentage doesn’t matter. We don’t have proportional democracy. If we did, the result would be very different. Instead the Conservatives took 39% of the vote yet 167 seats. If you’re having a hard time coming to grips with this I recommend you re-read my section on vote splitting as outlined above.
- Ontario and British Columbia went blue. I don’t think anyone in the right state of mind actually expected the NDP take many seats in Ontario, but I know the more optimistic NDP supporters (not me - I didn’t even expect more than 80 seats) were expecting to pick up seats in Ontario. Newsflash: the NDP have been in power in Ontario before and it was disastrous. So when given the choice between Conservatives and the NDP, guess which one people were more inclined to choose?
- The Conservatives held onto their seats. I never expected the NDP to take seats from them, and unfortunately I turned out to be right. In Quebec the Conservatives held onto their seats. In Ontario they gained seats. As soon as the results came in from Atlantic Canada and I read that they had gained many seats, it was pretty obvious they were doing very well.
- Most of the NDP surge hurt the Bloc and the Liberals… but that was about it. Like I said, I expected this. What it should have done is hurt the Conservatives, but the likelihood of center-right/right/far-right people voting for the NDP over a established party like the Conservatives was very slim.
This could be so much worse. I cannot stress this enough. I know people on the left like to say the Conservative Party is far-right or ‘fascist’ and so on.. but in all honesty, no joking aside, as a conservative party they aren’t very ‘far-right’ anymore unlike in the 90s. And the reason for this is because they can’t be. If you want to see what far-right looks like, take a look at some of the conservative far-right movements in countries like France, the Netherlands, Sweden, UK and so on where you have political parties who are openly calling for the deportations of ‘immigrants’ - legal or illegal, they don’t care.
So what to expect now? The Conservatives can do whatever they want. I don’t see them trying to ban abortion or make same-sex marriage illegal (although if they do try to do these things it’s most likely going to hurt them a hell of a lot in terms of support from moderates and blue liberals), but what they will continue to do is de-fund gay rights organizations, woman’s organizations and so on and so forth and the opposition can’t really do anything about it.
Let’s remember though: we have gained 102 seats. That’s crazy. I’ve been following politics since I was 13 or so, and I still can’t believe what I witnessed last night. Some of the candidates who have won are literally political nobodies - no one really knows who they are. Some are activists, some are teachers and one is a bar co-owner (seriously).
And with that we go forward.