Canadian Election Recap

Back on April 14, the Elections Desk here at Katz News Network issued its prediction for the outcome of the May 2 Canadian general election.  We predicted another minority government for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, and the resignation of Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.  We also said New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton would keep his job as long as his party didn’t lose too many seats in Parliament. 

So how did we do? 

Well, on the main prediction of another Conservative minority government, we were clearly too cautious.  The Conservatives won a comfortable majority capturing 167 seats.  The New Democratic Party won 102, the Liberals 34, the Bloc Quebecois 4 and the Greens 1.   However, we did correctly predict the winning party.  We also said the Conservatives would need to make inroads in the major urban centers to attain a majority, which they did.  The Conservatives picked up seats in Vancouver and Toronto, and especially the so-called 905 belt outside Toronto, though they were still shut out of Montreal.

On the prediction that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff would resign as leader on election night, we were off by about 8 hours.  He waited until the following morning.  Close enough!  Here again though, we were too cautious as Ignatieff lost his own seat.  All told, the Liberals lost 27 seats to the Conservatives and a net loss of 15 to the NDP and are now reduced to a meager 34 seats.  

It looks like the Liberal collapse signals the end of the old-line “big tent” Canadian brokerage parties. The Conservatives long ago shifted away from their “progressive” center-right roots and became a much more ideological party. The NDP have always been a “values” party, as are the Greens who won their first seat in Parliament. The Liberals, at center-left, were really the only brokerage party left. Reinventing themselves, and differentiating themselves will be an immense challenge.

Some people are blaming Conservative attack ads for Michael Ignatieff’s demise.  Nonsense.  “Iggy” may be an honorable man but he brought this defeat on himself by bringing down the previous minority government without a compelling issue or a commanding lead in the polls.  

Not only does NDP leader Jack Layton get to keep his job, he gets a promotion to Leader of the Opposition.  We certainly didn’t predict that!  Quebec has chosen the NDP as the vessel for its political aspirations in Canada.  Great news for Canada; Quebecers have voted en masse for a federalist party.  An interesting challenge for the NDP and Jack Layton: 58 seats, over half the NDP caucus is from Quebec, some of whom are basically “walk-ins” who mounted no campaigns at all.  The NDP now needs to put away the toys and get serious, shaping itself into a government-in-waiting. Can the NDP become a credible and responsible alternative instead of the eternal critic?

The Bloc Quebecois, now leaderless and reduced to just 4 seats is probably finished as a federal party.  Good riddance. 

All in all, this turned out to be a much more interesting election than we predicted.

* * *

Of course elections aren’t held to give to snarky ex-pat observers something to blog about.  They’re about voters making choices about the future of their communities

To my friends supporting and/or working for the Conservative Party, congratulations!  I certainly hope Stephen Harper governs as magnanimously as he spoke on election night. 

To my friends on the political left, who seem alarmed and dismayed by the results, rest assured the sky has not fallen.  Canada’s democracy is robust.  The country will survive.

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