Thursday, July 10, 2008

An Election Election

First it was Greatest Prime Minister. Then Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had. Then Best Premier. And with the summer here, it's time yet again for my annual march-madness-history-political-poll-thingy.

Thanks for all the suggestions - I really liked the idea of “biggest scandal”, but felt it might descend into partisan poll stacking. I’m definitely going to run “Best election ad” one day but youtube is lacking when it comes to good old 80s Canadian political TV ads. This idea is so inspired, I only wish I'd thought of it. So the winner is…“Canada’s Biggest Election” .

I haven’t completely settled on a seeding system yet, but I’m inclined to have one side of the bracket filled with federal elections and one side filled with provincial/municipal ones, to try and highlight those a bit more. Any election of the past 10 years is exempt because my favourite University history proff always said you needed at least a decade before you could even begin to judge an event’s impact. And referendums are out, just because.

I’ll leave it up to everyone to decide what a “big” election means to them, but I’d suggest the following criteria:

1) Unpredictability: Either a surprise result or a close result are important, because this implies history could have easily gone a different way.

2) Impact: The result of the election must have significantly altered history - ideally for Canada as a whole, but also municipally or provincially.

Being a “memorable” election might also be a criterion for some, but I don’t think it’s essential since part of the purpose of this should be highlighting lesser-known elections.


With that in mind, I'm opening the floor up to nominations. I know the federal ones, but if there's an election you feel is deserving of more respect than it gets, speak up. Most of all, I'm looking for some good provincial (and municipal!) elections to include in the contest. So comb the annals of your home province's history and place a nomination in the comments section or over e-mail.

Labels:

59 Comments:

  • The 1976 Québec election seems like a no brainer, what with the PQ getting elected and starting a twenty-year long national unity crisis.

    By Blogger Joffré, at 8:14 AM  

  • McKenna's New Brunswick sweep in 1987.

    By Blogger Mark, at 8:26 AM  

  • Bob Rae's NDP victory in Ontario, and Lougheed's first win in Alberta seemed like they had some major impact...

    By Anonymous germ, at 8:35 AM  

  • What about leadership contests, do they count? If so, Ralph Klein vs. Nancy Betkowski for leader of Alberta PC Party.

    Also, the 1993 Alberta provincial election, Klein's Miracle on Ice Cold Beer.

    The 1984 federal election, because of Mulroney's grand coalition of angry Westerners and angry Quebecois; the 1998 federal election, because it gave us free trade; and the 1993 federal election, because of the end of the PCs (thanks, Brian) and the rise of Reform.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:44 AM  

  • Dief's win over St. Laurent has to be the #1 seed, with Doug Fisher's win over CD Howe in Thunder Bay as the biggest upset in an election night of upsets.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:05 AM  

  • Free trade election - great ending, great debates and that Liberal ad where they say, "there's just one line I want to remove from the agreement" and proceed to erase the border.

    Terrific election.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 9:06 AM  

  • I wonder when you’re going to make a blog post about wanting a public inquiry as to why Chretien and Martin knew about Khadr’s torture, yet did nothing.

    This from the party of human rights.

    When are you going to demand a public inquiry as to why Chretien and Martin allowed Omar Khadr to be tortured?

    By Blogger Johnathon, at 9:07 AM  

  • Mike Harris' Common Sense Revolution victory in Ontario in 1995 should definitely make the cut.

    By Blogger uncorrectedproofs, at 9:26 AM  

  • I forgot, the Saskatchewan election of 1944. It brought us the first socialist government in North America with Tommy Douglas and the CCF.

    By Blogger uncorrectedproofs, at 9:28 AM  

  • Levesque in '76 deserves a seed for sure, but the Lesage win was the one that really ended the quiet revolution. Maybe not as big national implications but for Quebec, it was huge.

    By Anonymous Quebec Grit, at 9:32 AM  

  • Easy choice: the FTA election of '88.

    My wildcard, shot-in-the-dark pick: The NL provincial election in '89. Had Clyde Wells not won - and indeed, that was one of those elections where he got fewer votes but more seats than Tom Rideout, the Tory leader - Meech Lake probably would have gone through, and who knows how national politics would've changed as a result?

    By Blogger Jason Hickman, at 10:11 AM  

  • Saskatchewan has had many significant elections: 1944, 1982 and 1991 spring to mind, with probably 1944 being the biggest.

    A pity about not allowing elections within 10 years - the 2003 Sask election probably had the best battle and surprising finish out of any election for a while. As for policy too - it may represent the last time the "Crowns" debate/government involvement was a serious Left-Right issue after being such a defining debate of Saskatchewan since 1944.

    But yeah... the FTA election of 1988 is really in many ways the best election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:34 AM  

  • To add some older elections into the mix, how about the 1911 federal election of Laurier vs. Borden, when a mix of free trade/reciprocity (this time with Liberals in the yes camp) and military policy led to a Borden victory. Or the 1917 wartime election, when the Union government ran a full-on anti-French-Canadian campaign to victory. The 1939 Quebec election is a good one too, when the federal Liberals promised no conscription to help turf Maurice Duplessis from office in favour of Adelard Godbout.

    By Blogger Matt, at 10:50 AM  

  • From an Alberta perspective, you'd have to consider the three "change of government" elections, as well as '93.

    Someone above has already mentioned Sask. I'd be tempted to toss in a Manitoba election related to the separate schools issue since that impacted federal politics and propelled Laurier to victory. BC I'd have no clue on.

    Mowat did good on your Premier contest last year - maybe one of his wins in Ontario.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:05 AM  

  • I got one. BC Election of 1952. It was the first time a transferable ballot had been used in BC. The system was designed by the Liberals and Conservatives who wanted to keep the CCF out of power.

    As a result what should have been a CCF Majority actually created a Social Credit Minority because of all the Second/Third choice votes going to the SoCreds from Liberals and PCs who got knocked off.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:20 AM  

  • The 2004 and 2006 elections because Paul Martin said each of them were the most important elections ever.

    By Blogger Bailey, at 11:36 AM  

  • Ha ha – I’d been planning to use that Paul Martin “most important election ever” joke but it slipped my mind. I’ll have to slip it into the next post on this topic.

    To update things a bit, I’m planning a 16 election field as usual. The 8 federal elections I’m leaning towards including are: ’93, ‘88, ’80, ’57, ’35, ’17, ’11, and one of MacDonald’s wins. Those were fairly off the top of my head though so this is your chance to convince me of another worthy candidate.

    There are some really good suggestions for provincial elections above: BC 52, Sask 44, Quebec 60 and 76, Newfoundland 89 all have tentative entries at this point. I’ll want an Alberta and Ontario one in there for sure. I’d also be impressed with anyone who comes up with a provincial election from 100+ years ago.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:07 PM  

  • Manitoba does seem underrepresented here, so let me throw out the 1969 election - the NDP, which had been in third place, wins but is one seat short of a majority. The defeated Tories and Liberals plans to form a coalition are thwarted when the NDP convince Liberal MLA Larry Desjardins to cross the floor, and the NDP stay in power for eight more years.

    Other suggestions would be the 1988election (the NDP is blown out after a backbencher votes against its budget) or 1915 (Liberals badly beat the Tories after a major spending scandal, leading to 40 years in opposition for the PCs).

    As for other provinces, I'd throw out Ontario in 1985 (Frank Miller wins a minority, but the Liberals and NDP team up to form government and put paid to the Big Blue Machine)?

    By Blogger Curtis Brown, at 12:12 PM  

  • For Alberta I would say it would have to be 1967 with Lougheed's Victory or 1917, which was the last Liberal Majority.

    For Ontario you could say 1990 which was the first (and only time) Ontario went NDP. Or perhaps 1995 with the rise of Harris.

    For the +100 Years, lets go with Ontario election 1867. The election actually ended in a tie between the Libs and Cons. They formed a big happy coalition government which lasted until 1871.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:12 PM  

  • I would suggest BC 1991 (1996 honourable mention). A surprise result for the resurgent BC Libs, the end of Social Credit and the end of a coherent party system in the province, arguably, until 2005 (if you consider parties such as Reform, the Progressive Democratic Alliance and DRBC have held seats in the years since and the Greens registered 12% in 2001). It also began a 10 year stretch of NDP government...and 4 premiers, which few on the West Coast seem likely to forget.

    By Anonymous mjwadsworth, at 1:17 PM  

  • Seems a bit remiss not to include 1972. How often have we had federal campaigns whose outcome had to wait until the next day?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:22 PM  

  • Mike Harris' first election is also worthy of consideration. He ran a simple yet brilliant and focused campaign, while the Liberals spent the entire time kicking an opponent that was already dead. Harris came from a distant third to win it, he revived a moribund brand overnight, and its repercussions on the entire national conservative movement was immense.

    Federal election of 1988 is good because of all of the "what ifs" - what if Turner's late surge held? What if the NDP hadn't garnered so many anti-free trade votes? What if the disgruntled grits on the sidelines hadn't knifed the Leader at the outset of the campaign? What if Free Trade had failed? etc. A watershed for sure.

    Going farther back, MacDonald's first defeat is also a great story. The railroad scandals, the role of the print media in supporting political parties and vice versa.

    Sounds like fun.

    By Blogger Mark, at 1:34 PM  

  • I've got a post on this but I'll give the short version here. I'll just say consider 1911 or 1917. While they were not particularly close, they did focus on two of the most important issues in Canadian politics. 1911 centred on the American question specifically reciprocity. 1917 focused on the Quebec question specifically conscription. Also, can we give some pre-confederation love to 1841? Responsible government is kind of important.

    By Blogger Aaron Ginsberg, at 1:47 PM  

  • NS, 1848: First responsible government in British Empire.

    PEI, 1935: Liberals shut out opposition with 58% of the vote.

    By Blogger RP., at 1:52 PM  

  • What about Calgary's 1980 municipal election, when a beat reporter running as a joke unseated a powerful incumbent - forever changing the face of Alberta politics in the process?

    By Blogger Enlightened Savage, at 1:53 PM  

  • CG:

    Regarding King's victory in 1935, I would say that 1945 would be a bigger election in a lot of ways. Firstly, King bucked the trend of wartime governments getting tossed (Churchill lost before the war was even over, the Dems lost the House and Senate in 1946, and Truman scraped by in 1948). There was big drama, with the possibility of the CCF getting a big boost (which never came), Ontario's election midway through the vote making it seem that the Tories were going to win, and, upon King's ultimate victory, the space for the Liberals to start on their postwar social welfare programs through St. Laurent's years.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 3:46 PM  

  • And in terms of Macdonald's victories, 1878 is the big one; the party rebounded from the scandal debacle of 1874, ushering in nearly 20 years of Tory rule, and the "National Policy" that included the railway, the settlement of the west (though it was Laurier who really did that), and protectionism for manufacturing interests in Central Canada.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 3:50 PM  

  • island lib; I'm with you on the 1878 one.

    For King, I think it's important to pick out the election that really ushured in the "big government era" and, as a result, set the Liberals up as the national governing party for a long time. I'll have to skim a book or two, but you may be right about '45 trumping '35.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:21 PM  

  • In the gong-show realm, I'd go with the 1982 Alberta election for a number of reasons:

    - Final collapse of the Social Credit Party in Alberta. Two former Socred MLAs were re-elected as Independents (Walt Buck and Ray Speaker)

    - The NDP became the Official Opposition with 2 seats (Grant Notley & Ray Martin).

    - The only Western Canadian Concept (separatist) MLA, Gordon Kesler, ran in Highwood, rather than the seat he won the Olds-Didsbury seat that elected him in a by-election earlier that year. Kelser lost by over 5,000 votes, but his party earned 12% of the vote province-wide.

    - Liberal leader Nick Taylor earned 3331 votes against Ken Kowalski's 5001 in Barrhead, meaning Taylor singlehandly earned 20% of the Liberal vote province-wide (keep in mind this was during the last days of Trudeau's PMship).

    - Tory turned short-lived Alberta Reform Movement MLA Tom Sindlinger was defeated in Calgary-Buffalo.

    - No leaders' debate. In his final election, Lougheed refused a debate with the other leaders, so Kesler ambushed Lougheed at a campaign event.

    - And, in true Alberta fashion, the Progressive Conservatives won 95% of the seats with only 62% of the vote.

    Results...
    PC - 75 (62% vote)
    NDP - 2 (18% vote)
    WCC - 0 (12% vote)
    Lib - 0 (2% vote)
    Ind - 2

    By Blogger daveberta, at 4:49 PM  

  • My suggestion would be the 1944 Saskatchewan election. It is difficult to understate the effect the CCF win had on the direction the province took over the next 60+ years.

    I would also like to suggest a couple of Quebec elections. The 1976 PQ win is an obvious one but I think equally important is the 1960 win by the Liberals which signaled a huge shift in Quebec society.

    By Blogger Mike, at 6:41 PM  

  • CG,

    The federal election of 1958 is more important than the one in
    1957. The PC won for the first time since 1935. 1958 consolidated the win and led to the conversion of the CCF into the NDP.

    Ontario 1995 is important due to the ascendancy of Harris, but I would put 1985 there. The emergence of an alternative to the Progressive Conservatives with the Ontario Liberals. Still Bob Rae's win in 1990 deserved to be there above all. A government that was forced to make a paradigm shift, from Keynesian interventionism to more liberal economics, in direct betrayal to its political ideology.

    By Blogger Mushroom, at 7:24 PM  

  • So here's a provincial election from over 100 years ago: Quebec, 1886.

    Honoré Mercier won (not outright, but he became Premier in 1887). He was arguably the first strongly nationalist, albeit not quite separatist, leader in Quebec politics. Indeed, the Liberals ran under the Parti National label in that election, and took advantage of the population's fury at MacDonald's decision that "Riel must swing". It was also the first time Quebec's Liberals took power for any length of time (having briefly held it as a minority government about 10 years before). Although they lost it in 1896, they regained it in 1897 and held for almost 40 years.

    By Blogger Leonid, at 7:41 PM  

  • I've got to make a pitch for the 1921 federal election. It was historic, being the first election where women had the vote, Mackenzie King's first victory, the rise of the Progressives, and the elections of Agnes Macphail and J.S. Woodsworth.

    It had a close result that produced a one-seat Liberal majority that waffled back and forth into minority status over the next five years.

    And most of all it had a certain goofball charm. Arthur Meighen tried to rename the Conservatives the "National Liberal and Conservative Party" to keep the wartime union government in place indefinitely and presumably eliminate the need for any future elections. Also, the Progressive's refused the title of Official Opposition since they couldn't agree on whether or not they were an actual party.

    By Blogger J-WAB, at 8:21 PM  

  • In my lifetime, it's most certainly the 1988 free trade election.

    "Mr. Turner has made it his life's work to tear up an international agreement. I've made it my life's work to build a nation."

    Brian Mulroney, 1988

    By Blogger Brian Grenya, at 9:01 PM  

  • I'm too young to remember, but maybe an election involving Jean Drapeau? While he presided over many "big projects" (including Expo, the Olympics, the decline of Montreal wrt Toronto, and many modernization attempts, most of which were not the result of this election), the 1970 election, held during the October Crisis, involved the jailing of his main opponent and him winning all 52 council seats and 92.5% of the vote. Check it out for yourself, but it's not a bad choice for a municipal election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:12 PM  

  • For Alberta, it's got to be 1971, when Lougheed beat out Strom. It's significant because a bunch of young hardworking dreamers in the Opposition beat out the corrupt old socred self-perpetuating governing machine, in a wave of excitement and enthusiasm that we don't see in Alberta politics anymore. It was the only time an Opposition has ever formed government in Alberta.

    The best part is that we've been blessed with excellent government ever since. The Alberta PCs have in no way become a sickly, talentless parody of a government, ironically resembling the self serving buffoons that they replaced as they jostle for space at the trough.

    By Anonymous Justin, at 9:29 PM  

  • The election that brought the NDP to power in Ontario was historic, and nobody, not even Bob Rae himself, expected them to win, and certainly not a majority that they did. That has to be at the top of any Ontario list.

    Read Bob's book for some brilliant insights into that one.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:12 PM  

  • Some western (BC) content:
    I agree that the 1952 election was interesting in how the ballot was designed to keep the NDP out of power. However, I think two BC NDP elections are important for the lasting impact they have had on the province.

    First, the NDP election that is generally remembered favorably.

    1972: Dave Barrett becomes BC's first NDP premier. The election leads to collapse of the Liberal Party in BC (at least one with strong ties to the federal party: see David Anderson). Barrett brings in the Insurance Corporation of BC and the Agricultural Land Reserve: two important government agencies still in place today. Barrett had a pretty strong front bench, so there are likely many more accomplishments (and skeletons), but it was before I was born.

    Second, the out and out disaster.
    1996: Glen Clark (NDP)unexpectedly wins over Gordon Campbell. Arguably, this can be construed as a more important election for several reasons.

    1) Merger of the right in BC. After the election, the remainder of old Social Credit/BC Reform linked up with the BC Liberals. Without a divided right flank, the NDP in BC can't win - especially with the small but annoying Green party biting at their rump.

    2) The re-imaging of Gordon Campbell. Gordon Campbell tried miserably during the 1996 election to become a populist to win over voters: his guitar strummin and phony "banter" with reporters turned off voters. http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/2008/04/premier-gordon-campbells-new-press.html
    After the election, he went back to what he knows best: being a Howe Street suit, screwing the working man.
    3) Fudgeit budgets: Clark is found to have produced not one, but two massive deficits where there supposed to be a surpluses. The complete mismanagement of finances leads Campbell to bring in balanced budget legislation in 2002. (Of course, only after Campbell ran the largest deficit in BC history in 2001-known as the fudget-structural deficit).
    4) Fast ferries. Clark commission three aluminum hulled ferries to be built in BC for "$210 million - right down to the toilet paper" Of course, no one in BC knew how to build aluminum hulled boats and price tag doubled. A week still doesn't go by in the BC Legislature without a BC Liberal Cabinet ministers chanting fast ferries during question period.
    5) The Clark/(Miller)/Ujjal Dosanjh disaster from 1996-2001 produced the largest majority in BC history in May 2001 77-2 seats. Joy MacPhail proves that she alone is by far the single most impressive opposition member in Canadian history.

    CG: I love these contests!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:01 PM  

  • I definitely second the 1921 election.

    I also suggest... the 1968 Liberal Leadership race.
    Unpredictability: what if Hellyer et al had united early, and ended up looking inevitable?
    Impact: it made Pierre Trudeau prime minister and set the course for the next 40 years... and it gave Michael Ignatieff one of his few anecdotes about why he is sufficiently Canadian to be almost-prime minister.

    As well, the 1983 Progressive Conservative fits the bill once again. Three contenders - Crosbie, Clark and Mulroney all had credible shots, and things might have turned out otherwise.

    As a result of that election, Mulroney would go on to be Prime Minister instead of Clark, and, free trade was introduced (by Crosbie) as an issue that registered on the radar.

    The 1985 Ontario election effectively ended 40+ years of Progressive-Conservative rule in Canada's largest province (the PC's won a short-lived minority government and lost power to a Liberal-NDP coalition). It set in motion the rise of Bob Rae as a key power-broker, and ultimately destroyed the old PC Party of Davis, setting the stage for Harris to come in later.

    As for unpredictable:
    PC: 37% 52 seats
    LPC: 37.9% 48 seats
    NDP: 23.8% 25 seats

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 11:30 PM  

  • 1919 Ontario provincials.
    the UFO's took over Queen's Park.

    By Blogger Mikael, at 12:51 AM  

  • I have no idea about the 1978 election which saw Hazel McCallion elected Mayor of Mississauga, but a Mayor who has served 30+ years, is 86 years old, won her last election with 91% of the vote and leads a city of 650,000+ has got to be worth a mention!

    By Anonymous fersure, at 2:15 AM  

  • Oh yes: any election in which Amor de Cosmos ran is a bonus. (He was both the MLA and MP for Victoria in 1871: he also was BC's second premier- the "left coast" is not a new phenomenon. Seriously: in 1871, BC had a premier who changed his name to "lover of the universe!)" Seriously, where the hell is my is "steam communication" between Victoria and San Fransico! http://www.solon.org/Constitutions/Canada/English/bctu.html

    By Anonymous fersure, at 2:40 AM  

  • Seriously, one too many martinis, seriously ;)

    By Anonymous fersure, at 2:45 AM  

  • 1976 Québec.

    It has drastically affected provincial politics in Quebec, Ontario, and the Federal Government for the last 30 years.

    By Anonymous Meany, at 3:15 AM  

  • IslandLiberal: The 1935 fed also led to the creation of the CBC over the Mr Sage scandal:

    http://www.broadcasting-history.ca/networks/networks_CRBC.html

    I'd say that would have to be in the top ten at least.

    By Blogger escapegoat, at 8:10 AM  

  • 8 Federal:

    1867 - First federal election
    1896 - Laurier's election
    1911 - 1st free trade
    1917 - Conscription
    1926 - Byng-King
    1957 - Dief ends 22 years of Lib rule
    1968 - Trudea era begins
    1988 - FTA

    8 Provincial

    1936 (QC) - Duplessis ends 39 years of Liberal rule in Quebec
    1960 (QC) - Lesage ends 16 years of UN rule in Quebec
    1976 (QC) - PQ victory
    1943 (ON) - Beginning of 42 years of PC rule
    1985 (ON) - Peterson ends PC rule in Ontario
    1995 (ON) - Harris victory
    1867 (NS) - Anti-confederates victorious
    1944 (SK) - Tommy Douglas leads the first socialist govt to power in North America

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:43 AM  

  • Anon:

    You simply cannot leave out the 1971 Alberta election. The unbeatable SC regime change. A model for future revolution in the province of Alberta.

    CG - it has to be 32, not 16. You cannot leave out the great municipal elections - Ralph winning the Mayor's chair in 1980 is huge in Calgary and it had impact across the nation. I mean, without that victory, no drunken premier would have ever been considered a "contender" for the leadership of the Conservatives, PC's, Reform in my lifetime!

    By Anonymous Carter, at 11:47 AM  

  • Don't forget about BC 52. I mean come on a Socred Minority that could have been an NDP Majority. That has to count for something!

    I 2nd a 32 Contender Contest.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:40 PM  

  • 1985 election in Ontario as it lead to the eventual downfall of the PCs and allowed the government to change without an election.

    By Blogger Andrew Sally, at 3:37 PM  

  • I would have said the most surprising outcome for an election would the results of the last one in Alberta... who'da thunk Ed could pull out a win of such magnitude.

    Everyone figured it was the beginning of the end for the PC's, and Eddy pulled a rabbit out of his ass.

    One of the most mis-called election predictions by pundits I've ever seen.

    By Anonymous Joe Calgary, at 4:08 PM  

  • I would like to throw the 1894 Ontario election into the mix, if only because it had the two most interestingly named provincial political parties win seats: The Patrons of Industry and the Protestant Protective Association.

    The Patrons of Industry was close to the beginning of labour's involvement in politics. While the PPA represented the political turmoil between catholics and protestants.

    Although there might be a few other elections that showed the debates over the catholic question, and railways for that matter.

    Also, as a rule, it never hurts to go with BC elections. They are also intriguing. My pick would be the 1972 BC NDP win. The 1st Socred and Liberal victories were also big ones.

    By Blogger bza, at 10:49 PM  

  • Rae's Ontario win in 1990.

    The federal free trade/navy election of 1911.

    The 1967 election in New Brunswick were Louis Robichaud ran against a PC Party explicitly backed by the Irving family hoping to stop his agressive reforms of the province.

    If pre-confed can count, the New Brunswick election of 1866 - the only vote called over the issue of confederation. It was called by the Lt. Gov. over the objections of the anti-confederation government; the Confederation Party won a 33-8 landslide.

    By Anonymous nbpolitico, at 11:47 PM  

  • -1993 election: for the major regional division among party lines it created that, to some extent, still last to this day.

    -1988 election: the Free Trade referendum.

    -1917 election: basically a plebiscite on Conscription.

    -1911 election: the original Free Trade referendum.

    PROVINCIAL ELECTIONS:

    -1976 Quebec election: first time the PQ forms government, sets stage for 1980 Referendum.

    -1960 Quebec election: end of Union Nationale era, gave way to the Quiet Revolution in Quebec.

    -1985 Ontario election: fall of the Big Blue Machine; coalition government ends 42 years of PC rule in Ontario.

    By Blogger BCT 2.0, at 12:26 AM  

  • I would argue that the '35 Alberta election was a bigger deal than '71. It was more dramatic (Socreds go from zero seats to gov't, as opposed to starting from official opposition status, while the governing UFA lost all of their seats), was more notable at the time ("Alberta Goes Crazy"), and ultimately had a bigger impact, by establishing Alberta as the conservative province that it is today.

    If leadership races are allowed, I would definitely second the earlier suggestion of the '92 Klein/Betkowski campaign. If that had gone the other way, the last 15 years would have turned out very differently (for starters, I suspect Decore and the Liberals would have won the next election).

    The '93 federal election needs to be in there, for the huge and permanent shakeup it gave to Canadian politics (death of the PCs, rise of Reform and the Bloc).

    There's been a good debate here about Ontario provincial elections: '85, '90, or '95? I would go with the former, since it set the stage for the other two.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 4:59 AM  

  • My picks: the 1921 federal election for the reasons mentionned by j-wab and the 1966 Quebec election that saw Daniel Johnson defeat Lesage. Anyone who lived through this campaign cannot forget it, the results and the influence of Johnson on what was to unfold after his death in 1968, only two years after his election. Johnson was the premier who penned Egalité ou Indépendance and stood beside De Gaulle on the balcony of the Hôtel de Ville in Montréal in 1967.

    By Blogger Loraine Lamontagne, at 9:07 AM  

  • Here's another municipal election, this time with national importance: the 2002 Vancouver municipal election (aka: CBC's DaVinici City Hall election). It's important on a national scale for many reasons:

    1) Sitting Non-Partisan Association Mayor Phillip Owens endorses the Four Pillar strategy, developed and endorsed by the Vancouver City Police, planners and bureaucrats, drug users and lefty politicians at all levels. The "four pillars" includes provisions for harm reduction: a clever name for safe injection sites. The wealthy west-side "creme de la creme," who are the NPAs traditional financial base go nuts. The party votes out the sitting mayor and replaces him with Jennifer Clarke, a sitting councilor who had been plotting against Owens for months.
    2) The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE)- a lefty farm team of champagne socialists and the odd Marxist - recruits BC's chief coroner Larry Campbell to run as their mayoral candidate. He leads COPE to an overwhelming victory: taking 8 of 10 council spots.
    3) Campbell gets credit for opening up the first safe injection site. He also lead a successful referendum on whether Vancouver should host the Winter Olympics (after they had been awarded).

    He and three other councillors tired of COPE's antics split off from COPE and form COPE Lite: later to be called Vision Vancouver.

    4) PM Paul Martin calls up Larry to be a senator. Despite the fact the he described himself as being "not a politician" he becomes a senator.

    5) The split on the left/left centre leads to the NPA winning the 2005 election under Sam Sullivan. Sullivan wastes the earned favourable attention he received when he rode around with the Olympic flag in Tornino on long and unnecessary civic strike, poor planning decisions and other idiocies. Like Owens, he is purged from within the party.

    By Anonymous fersure, at 2:34 PM  

  • - The 1971 "Sally's Cove" provincial election in Dannystan (formerly NL).

    By Blogger WJM, at 12:02 AM  

  • If pre-confed can count, the New Brunswick election of 1866 - the only vote called over the issue of confederation.

    Newfoundland 1869?

    By Blogger WJM, at 12:03 AM  

  • As a student of Ontario politics, its easy to say that the most important election in that province was in 1943.

    1) It was the first of 12 election victories for the Ontario PC Party. (I know that isn't anything special in Alberta, but in the rest of the world that's a big deal.)

    2) It was razor thin, with the PCs winning 38 seats to the CCF's 34 and the Liberals 15. And the communists won 2!

    3) It featured a crazy-assed former Premier (Mitch Hepburn) stepping down, and the public shellacking his kindly, sensible replacement (Harry Nixon) instead.

    4) While the 1945 election featured the really dramatic anti-socialist campaign tactics (Basically, the PC government had the OPP spying on the opposition CCF and media, and when the CCF blew the whistle, the backlash elected the PCs to a majority), the 1943 election had plenty of big spending business leaders fear-mongering about communism.

    5) Had the election been won by the CCF, it is entirely possible that not just Ontario, but Canadian history would have been extremely different. Allow me to elaborate:

    a) Canada is somewhat unique in the world in that it has a strong centrist party, and a weak socialist party. Most of Europe, Australasia and Latin America have a strong socialist party and a weak centrist party. Heck, even most of Western Canada has a strong NDP and weak Liberal Party.
    b) Had the CCF won the 1943 election in Ontario, they MAY have been able to overcome the systemic bias against a strong socialist party in Ontario and reformed the political spectrum along the same lines as BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba: strong socialist party, weak Liberal Party.
    c) In fact, considering how reactionary the Liberals were in the 40s, they may even have merged with the PCs into a single party to oppose the CCF. A similar phenomenon happened in BC with the SoCreds supplanting the old line parties as the united anti-socialist party.
    d) A realgined Ontario would have severely weakened the Liberals federally. This might not have been immediately fatal, but with the Diefenbaker sweep in 1958, the Liberals may have been reduced to a Quebec/Atlantic party.

    There are a lot of ifs there, but its actually bizarre that Canada has a strong Liberal party, and part of that may be due to this election.

    A.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:04 AM  

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