The majority have spoken - sort of
May 15, 2011
So here we are, a couple of weeks after The Unnecessary Election ™, dust has settled, and the world hasn't ended. A Conservative majority, an NDP Official opposition, a decimated Liberal party, and one Green member. The count now stands at Cons 166, NDP 103, Lib 34. There was an overwhelming run to the NDP, especially in Quebec - possibly just to get away from the Bloq. That suprise success meant all those candidates the NDP traditionally stuffs into non-winnable ridings - the young, the students, women - most of them got elected! So of course the media attention has shifted from how do we engage the youth to how young and inexperienced and "unqualified" many new members are.
As for the public, I think many are trading the worries of possible Conservative demons with the relief of not having to read or worry about an election for five years now. And therein lies the problem. I have no doubt that Harper and the Conservatives will now use their power to gradually shift Canadian society to the right of centre. Even more Conservative Senators, a quick passage of a tough on crime package, subtle pressures by the right to life groups. Replacing empty Supreme Court slots with justices that support a more conservative program in general, as well as an unfettered Parliament and less reliance on the Charter of Rights. The NDP assures us they will hold Harper accountable, a nice phrase that many are exhorting Canadians with, but with no real power or consequence, as they have no veto on this. Other than a re-alignment in the next election in five years, the only hope now is that the Conservatives will be sensitive to public opinion.
I've given up for a bit too on all this hoopla, I've pulled back from the daily onslaught of media reports and opinions, whether in print, on TV, Twitter - too much at times. My riding had a strong NDP candidate being re-elected, so I looked elsewhere for a place to make an impact. The riding next to me had a strong Liberal, Anita Vandenbeld, who was running against Conservative John Baird. It seemed like there was a chance she could swing it, so I volunteered. My partner and I spent election day in the rain - picking up voter sheets at the poll, comparing to our Liberal supporter lists, then knocking on doors to get the vote out. Then once the polls closed, I stayed for the vote count. The final tally of votes in the riding was Cons 25k, Lib 18k, NDP 11k. Not the success we had hoped for, but was more a reflection I think of a faltering national Liberal campaign and the NDP surge. I'm not sure what the next steps are now for the Liberals, or for me for that matter. I'm glad to see they have realized it's not the time to run out and elect another leader as the next Messiah to lead them to victory, there is some serious naval gazing to be done first. Susan Delacourt of The Star recently commented "If the Liberal party didn’t exist in 2011, would we need to invent it?" Good point - who and what is the Liberal party, how does it fit in the spectrum, how does it rebuild and reconnect with people? I think I'll start by contacting my local Liberal Party Association, and maybe the former candidate Scott Bradley. I'll be cautious though, my background in Quality Management taught me the value of strategic planning and of specific measurable objectives - not high level feel good phrases. Although retired, I have a lot of interests and no more time in the day than anyone else - time that I try to use effectively.
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