Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Writing the Canadian Election Narrative: Instant Reaction

The joy of first past the post in a three-five party system is that small shifts can produce big swings perhaps.  The other benefit for observers: we can read many things into the outcomes.  For instance:

  • Canada loves TPP as the pro-trade stances of Liberals and Conservatives got 70% of the vote.
  • Canada dislikes xenophobia as Liberals + NDP (60%) > Conservatives + Bloc Quebecois (36%).
  • Canada is ok with Bill C-51 with 70% or are not in love with it in its current form (60%).
  • Canada loves spending way too much money on ships (all parties) or trying to buy votes with shipbuilding failed as the Tories got no votes in Atlantic Canada and few in Vancouver.  
  • Canada loves the Senate since the parties seeking its abolition lost.
 With a mixture of stances that were often overlapping, it is hard to discern too much from the results.
Did xenophobia meet a crushing defeat?  I am not so sure, as the NDP got crushed, and while the Liberals also took an anti-xenophobia stance, the NDP seemed to get the brunt of it, especially by losing several seats to the BQ.  One would have to do a riding-by-riding analysis to break down how the votes moved from NDP and to whom.  Maybe Harper's ethnic outbidding tactics were influential enough to help the Bloc and hurt the NDP, but not sufficiently influential or targeted to help the Conservatives.

Did foreign policy and defence policy matter in this campaign?  Very, very little, of course.  But the Munk debate (with which I had some association, so excuse my pumping up its relevance) on these issues was a turning point.  Did it allay people's fears that Trudeau was not ready?  I think so.  Was it because people thought he had better stances on foreign/defence issues?  That he would be a better PM on this stuff?  Or just that he would not be an #epicfail on such stuff?  I think the latter, mostly, was the major reason why things shifted then. 

I do think the Liberals ran the best campaign and thought so before last night's result.  They issued heaps of policy papers (including the best one on defence); their ads were more compelling (Harper being a talking head in one ad saying that it was not about him was positively painful); they seemed to have the best ground game; and because of my filtered twitter feed, the best social media effort.  I still didn't think they would win a majority or anything close to it.

The fun part is over--now the hard part of governing.  I am pretty jazzed that I know some of the folks who are likely to get key spots.  I interviewed LtG (retired) Andrew Leslie when he was still in the military.  He participated in one of my book launch events in 2014, and we have bumped into each other a few times since.  He is Most Likely to be Defence Minister

The key reality will be that this party will have no excuses.  No coalition partner to blame, no minority status that provides far less accountability (thanks Phil), heaps of party discipline.  So, time to follow through on the promises, even as many of them may have been tactical (voting for C-51). Good times.

Anyhow, the real joy of democracy: people vote, government changes, new folks step in.  The system, with all of its warts, works.  As I become a citizen tomorrow, my Canadian patriotism will be at 11, in part because of how this election was conducted.  Well done, my new country, well done.

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