Tuesday, October 14, 2008

E-Day: Harper Wins

So, for the second time in our country's history, we've got a third straight minority government. It's also the first time Canada has elected back-to-back Tory minorities which probably isn't overly significant, but it's a fun bit of trivia (if by "fun" you mean "horribly depressing"). Yes, it's a disappointing result, but there were many times this campaign when I was expecting far worse. As the saying goes in Toronto, for both politics and hockey, "there's always next year".

So what does it all mean?

Well, for The Greens, it's another ballot box let down. They got into the debates. May got heaps of media attention. They ran TV ads. But the end result was only a minor uptick in support - 6.5%. May's suicidal decision to run in Central Nova now means they'll be on the outside looking in for the next two years.

The NDP may be the big winners of the night. This will be their second highest seat total in party history, which is scary because it means a dozen years from now, the future NDP leader will be name-dropping "Jack Layton" the way "Ed Broadbent" gets tossed around these days (that gives me the same queasy feeling I get when it occurs to me that the top 40 music of today will one day be a "golden oldie"). The wins in Edmonton Strathcona and Outremont are especially significant for obvious reasons. Sure, Jack had to abandon NDP idealism, make bad sweater jokes, and say the words "kitchen table" 42,000 times to get it done, but he got it done. Which means we'll see an even more self-confident Jack Layton in the house for the next two years.

The Bloc still doesn't have a raison d'ĂȘtre, but they have another 50 government of Canada pensions so they'll be pleased with the results. Duceppe and the Bloc have been left for dead time and time again...maybe it's time we realized that, unfortunately, they're here to stay. These results will let Duceppe leave on a high - I would be very surprised if he sticks around to fight another campaign.

I'll have a lot to say about the Liberal Party over the next few days but, for now, I agree 100% with everything Andrew Coyne said on the CBC tonight. We're looking at 5 or 6 Liberal seats in Western Canada tonight. We're looking at a party that can't out fundraise the NDP. In short, we're looking at a party with many deep-rooted, endemic problems. This is the lowest popular vote total in the history of the party - but anyone who thinks this was a blip on a radar (just like 2006 was an Adscam blip, right?) and that a fresh coat of paint will mean a string of Liberal majorities is deluding themselves. The one bright spot in this is that it will be a small, but impressive, Liberal caucus. Dion, Rae, Ignatieff, Kennedy, Dryden, Hall Findlay, Goodale, Dosanjh, Trudeau, Garneau, LeBlanc, Dhalla, Holland...I could name a dozen more quality MPs easily. It's a great team and I don't think they'll need to worry about the NDP outshinning them in the House.

And that brings us to the victors. I completely buy the Tom Flannagan theory that Harper is trying to crush the Liberal Party and that another Conservative minority is a step in that direction. Of course they would have loved to have the majority Quebec denied them, but I don't think there are any regrets on team Tory after this one. The backlash to the relatively benign culture cuts and justice reforms sends yet another message to Harper that he must moderate his party or pay the electoral consequences. Having watched the man for a few years now, I think he'll take that message to heart.

Oh, and 58% voter turn-out? That's a sign all the parties have failed.

Election Night Live Blog

6:24 pm: I just got back from casting a ballot for Liberal candidate Christine Innes. It was really a no brainer - say what you will about strategic mistakes the Liberals may have made, but in my opinion they offer Canadians the best platform, the best government, and the best Prime Minister.

It appears the election party I'll be at tonight will have wireless, so be sure to tune in here for results and commentary. And, by "tune in here", I mean "tune in here after 10 pm eastern" as it appears the Elections Canada/Liberal Party conspiracy does not give Liberal bloggers immunity from blackout rules. But, come 10:01, the fun begins! Snark! Trivia! The exact same results you can find on any TV broadcast!

7:52 pm: My text message from Halifax tells me that the the Newfoundland results are now - Liberal 6 and NDP 1. So if these trends hold, we're looking at a 264 seat Liberal majority!

8:21 pm: Signs things are going bad for the Tories in Quebec: Even their own Cabinet Ministers aren't voting for themselves.

9:05 pm: May goes down, which is a shame since she's kind of grown on me this campaign. The sad thing is, there were probably a dozen ridings she could have won.

9:43 pm: The CBC calls a riding for the NDP with SIX votes cast so far. Well, while we're at it, I'm gonna go out on a limb and call Crowfoot for the Tories with...ZERO votes reporting.

9:53 pm: The NDP is in the game in Fort McMurray...perhaps the Danny Williams effect?

10:01 pm: And we're live! CBC has called it for the Tories. The Ontario numbers are looking really bad for the Liberals, with the Dipper pulling votes away from them; a majority is still possible. Jack's down. Ken Dryden is down. Ruby Dhalla is down. But the most surprising result of the night is that the Conservatives are winning the STUDENT election vote. Because nothing plays to 17 year olds like a promise to cut the tax of diesel!

10:28 pm: The CBC has yet to call Calgary Southwest for Harper. Guys, I think you can make that bold plunge.

btw, anyone else notice how the Green candidates are all either 22 year old women or guys with big bushy beards?

10:41 pm: High profile races: Trudeau up, Kennedy up, Turner defeated, Fortier defeated, Mulcair down. And my cryptic Alberta post may come true, but not necessarily how I intended it to - an independent Conservative is neck and neck for the lead in Edmonton Sherwood Park.

10:57 pm: Conservatives at 145...boy those 55 million in culture cuts are sure looking costly now.

Conservative headquarters is watching CBC - imagine that!

11:11 pm: Gerard Kennedy elected in Parkdale High Park which I'm very glad to see. After having door knocked there a few times this campaign I was really worried, so JE and the entire campaign team deserves a hearty congrats for their great job! Despite the seat loses, the Liberal caucus looks like it will be a strong one.

11:25 pm: Outremont neck and neck right now.

12:45 pm: Linda Duncan is now up in Edmonton Strathcona...if she hangs on, I'll win $20, to go with the $60 I'll take from three separate "not a majority" bets. So that's good. And seeing Jaffer booted and the Alberta monolith being broken up is icing on the cake.

An NDP win I take less satisfaction in is Trinity Spadina...just once it would be nice to vote for a winner. Hell, I'd take voting for a winner on American Idol at this point.

I noticed Tony Clement's margin of victory has gone from 28 votes to...11,000 votes. Eek.

Harper's at the podium now. I see Ben and Rachel are up late...on a school night. Tsk Tsk. I'm shocked Ben wanted to be seen with his dad, given that he's at that age when blah blah blah...

Very good speech by Harper. Very gracious and Prime Ministerial. But, then again, he is the Prime Minister. *sigh*


  • Christine is running against Olivia Chow. What happened to strategic voting?

    By Blogger Robert McClelland, at 7:06 PM  

  • Wait, I can't post once the polls are closed here? What kind of crazy rule is that?

    By Blogger Don, at 7:16 PM  

  • I'm really hoping for a Liberal win here in Trinity-Spadina, Christine's a great candidate.

    I don't really understand Robert's point. The Conservative doesn't have a hope in hell of winning (last time they got 9% of the vote), so it's a legit battle for between the progressives. I'd even go so far as to say it's more strategic to vote Liberal here.

    By Blogger The Fwanksta, at 7:39 PM  

  • i also live in Trinity-Spadina, and am a tory, but voted "strategic" for Ms Chow to stop what's truely scary: Dion turning our country into an experiment with his foolish green shift.

    By Anonymous Andrew, at 7:50 PM  

  • A Liberal should never say "no brainer". It just makes it too damn easy. ;)

    By Blogger Greg, at 7:56 PM  

  • i also live in Trinity-Spadina, and am a tory, but voted "strategic" for Ms Chow to stop what's truely scary: Dion turning our country into an experiment with his foolish green shift

    Wow. Strategic voting by a Conservative. Now that's different!

    By Blogger Joanne (True Blue), at 8:11 PM  

  • well when the Tory candidate is a distant third (or 4th if there's a strong Green showing)and its always close between the NDP and Liberals I think it makes sense!

    By Anonymous Andrew, at 8:36 PM  

  • Strategic voting by a Conservative.

    Next election I plan to set up a strategic voting guide for conservatives.

    By Blogger Robert McClelland, at 9:00 PM  

  • "Wow. Strategic voting by a Conservative. Now that's different!"

    Tell that to the conservatives who voted for Mulcair in the by-election.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 9:22 PM  

  • Toronto Tories represent, yo (both of us). I strategically voted for Peggy Nash to save Canada from Gerard Kennedy, worst PM ever in waiting.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 9:24 PM  

  • it's 10:02 - where are you?

    By Anonymous mdj, at 10:02 PM  

  • Jack Harris in Newfoundland may have stolen the biggest electoral victory prize from Monte and Myron.

    By Blogger Rob, at 10:17 PM  

  • Linda Duncan just popped into the lead in Strathcona - 18 polls to count. They haven't changed the totals onscreen because Jaffer still shows "elected". That's some bad coding right there.

    By Blogger Don, at 12:49 AM  

  • Duncan is 400 up now. Nailbiter.

    If only I could have predicted those other 307 ridings like that. Harper, uh, prend des forces.

    By Anonymous Mike G, at 12:54 AM  

  • WTF is going on in Brampton? Ruby Dhalla only ahead by 3 points?!? Other Liberal candidate ahead by less then one point. We won these ridings by like 20+ points in the previous elections. I thought Conservatives were blowing smoke when Jason Kenney was declaring that they are going to flip the immigrant/new canadian vote but it seems like they have made HUGE inroads into this reliably Liberal voting block.

    By Anonymous Julian, at 1:08 AM  

  • What a disaster for the Liberals. Dion is toast. I was at an post-election Liberal event and everyone was wondering, very loudly, when he'll do the right thing and resign.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:11 AM  

  • Bummer. :(

    Here's my thoughts.

    I agree w/everything you say - awesomely said, CG.

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 2:19 AM  

  • I disagree.

    I think everyone is going home happy.

    The Tories are going happy because they won, and a minority that is effectively a majority.

    The Bloc Quebecois are happy for successfully re-defining themselves as the defender of arts the culture, and having been responsible for saving Canada from a Conservatives majority.

    Probably 75% of Canadians go home happy because a Conservative majority was averted.

    About half of Canadians are happy because nothing really changed so it's ok that they didn't even bother to vote.

    Danny Williams goes home thrilled for kicking Tory ass in Newfoundland. Stelmach is probably even happier.

    NDP is happy for winning seats in Alberta and Quebec, and for one of their best showings ever.

    The Greens are happy for finally being accepted as a "major" party, and having the largest gains of any party in % of popular vote.

    The Liberals are happy because they finally have a mandate to clean its house and get rid of anyone left who has that corrupt and/or entitlement mindset (and, of course, to get rid of Dion). (Ok, this one's a stretch).

    Everyone who has tired of Garth Turner is going home happy.

    Reporters are happy because they always have the most passion going after Conservative governments, and they'll get to cover leadership races and more elections.

    The people are happy because we don't have to worry about a carbon tax, or anything else that will make this coming recession even worse.

    Even the artists are happy because nobody said "hey - I just lost 30% of my retirement savings, but you guys threw a hissy fit over practically no cut at all?"

    And, of course, even bloggers are happy. Because they're unhappy and bloggers are only ever happy when they're unhappy.

    See? Everyone has something to be happy about.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 2:21 AM  

  • I'm happy too!

    Two for Two. 2 for 2.

    harper fails.
    Obama to win.

    Two for two.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 2:51 AM  

  • Dion 2008: 26%, 76 seats
    Stockwell Day 2000: 26%, 66 seats

    Dion's career obviously SHOULD be over, but there is one sword he can throw himself on to make it all worthwhile (Day could have survived too, if he had gotten Joe Who to agree on a deal). He is the Liberal with the most credibility to unite the Liberal and Green party. It is desperate, it might fail, but it would save him, and the Liberal party.

    1. Elizabeth May blew this election, but the Greens have real potential (if they wouldn't run as Dippers without hardhats). Where you see that is in young voters of my generation (the lamest generation in history):
    From Ekos <25 voters
    CPC: 22%
    LPC: 19%
    NDP: 26%
    GP: 16%

    2. Yes, some Green voters would stay home, and others would vote NDP. The former hurts nobody, the latter helps defeat Conservatives. There are almost no ridings that feature Liberal-NDP races. Those that might actually flopped for the NDP in this election (no Montreal gains, losses in Toronto).

    3. Dion would gain credit for uniting the parties - and could set the rules of the leadership race to benefit his own chances (eg. giving more weight to places where the Liberals do well (like Montreal). In a delegated convention, Dion being both a Liberal and very green-friendly would be the natural compromise candidate.

    On a second note... If you look at the negative campaign run by every single party (I think the Tories were actually the LEAST negative, since their first week backfired), it shouldn't be surprising that voter turnout was so low. I think that benefitted the Tories ultimately because they weren't relying on strategic voting, and had the most committed supporters.

    The other thing that was ignored, was the effectiveness of Tory micro-targeting. Look at some of their pickups...
    Thornhill - which is 40% Jewish. This was the payoff for Harper's Lebanon policy (Peter Kent helped - but his name recognition did him little good before in St Paul).
    Kenora is 33% aboriginal, Nunavat 85%, Denesthe about 66% aboriginal (and David Orchard was absolutely clobbered) - with respectable results in Abitibi-James Bay and the northwest territories (that was both the schools apology and Harper's focus on northern issues).

    They won big in Richmond (47% Chinese), and almost cost Dosanjh his seat in Vancouver South (47% Chinese) - help from the head tax apology?

    Harper may have lost among Jewish, Chinese or aboriginal voters, but his margins have to be up. In all three cases those are gains that big tracking polls tend to miss. Harper has convinced those three groups not to be scared of him. If he can convince Quebec or urban voters in the same way, he will win a majority.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 3:40 AM  

  • About half of Canadians are happy because nothing really changed so it's ok that they didn't even bother to vote.

    LOL! I love it!

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 3:42 AM  

  • My only question is whether Elizabeth May will be asked to step down as Leader of the Liberal Party.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 4:27 AM  

  • "harper fails."

    You are assuming Harper's objective was a majority. Obviously he would like one, but I don't think he thought he would get one. In August, Conservative support ranged from 32% to 37%, while Liberal support ranged from 28%-35%. In every election except 1974, the incumbent has lost support from before the election call to the election.

    Harper called the election when he did because:
    1. He wanted to avoid Cadmangate, the in-and-out scandal, and Couillard's book.
    2. He did not want to give the Liberals time to replenish their warchest by waiting a few more years.
    3. He suspected there would be economic trouble in the future, and figured he wanted an election before, not after.
    4. He did not want to give the Liberals time to re-write the Green shift.
    5. He wanted to empty Conservative coffers, since he had enough for a solid election campaign anyway - raking in more money would be of little value.
    6. Parliament was unproductive, and he didn't want to be a do-nothing Prime Minister. Rather he wanted a mandate with which he could addressing a coming economic downturn.

    Has Harper succeeded?

    1. The Liberals had their worst election result ever. Dion is toast, and a Liberal leadership race is certain. That means a number of MP's won't be in parliament, and that the Liberals won't fund-raise for a year. They will have to cave on major issues or look obstructionist in the face of a crisis (and possibly force themselves to run with Dion again).

    2. Harper is closer to a majority than you'd think. Milliken will likely remain as speaker, so the real target for a majority is 153. There are two independents likely to back Harper on many issues, meaning he effectively has 145 seats. If 9 MP's from other parties swing to Harper or are absent and he whips his own caucus (which he is good at), he can pass bills.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 4:41 AM  

  • A 1% swing in popularity gets Harper almost 20 new seats?

    Electoral system = FAIL

    Clearly we need to get our act together real quick, and sadly I think that means Dion has to go. He's a decent man and no one should dare question his love of country, but I'm afraid he's just not a leader Canadians seem to want right now. Dalton McGuinty lost his first election badly too, but he has an "everyman" quality that Ontarians connected to the second and third times, and it looks like Harper has managed to emulate it as well. I just don't see Dion as being able to do the same.

    By Blogger Goldenhawk, at 6:19 AM  

  • And now the real battle for the Liberals...

    Reason, Logic, Feasibility


    Emotion, Short-Sightedness, Media Hype and Simple Fixes

    I can only hope that Liberals are faithful readers of Well's blog.


    By Blogger me dere robert, at 7:43 AM  

  • too bad about ruby....

    she was hot.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:47 AM  

  • You are the smartest Liberal in the room. Coyne's comments are bang on. The divided right hid some deep weaknesses in the Liberal brand, it isn't as fundamentally strong as some think.

    You should be advising the leadership not sychophants like Cherniak.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:05 AM  

  • Hopefully Dion will leave gracefully, and soon. The Liberal Party must become a liberal party again - and that means a party that champions free enterprise values. If the Liberal Party of Canada continues on its current trajectory of electing disastrous leaders like Dion who don't connect with the public and introduce disastrous ideas like the Green Shift, the party is headed for oblivion. I hope you will print my comments, and listen seriously to what I have to say.

    By Blogger John Murney, at 12:50 PM  

  • Thanks for the props.

    By Blogger Glen, at 2:35 PM  

  • //The one bright spot in this is that it will be a small, but impressive, Liberal caucus. Dion, Rae, Ignatieff, Kennedy, Dryden, Hall Findlay, Goodale, Dosanjh, Trudeau, Garneau, LeBlanc, Dhalla, Holland...//

    Essentially all from Metro Toronto.

    The map of the country is an Edmonton Oiler jersey patched with an old Nordique one with little drops of blood on it.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 4:09 PM  

  • CG, do not hold us in suspense, give us the answers we are all seeking...Do we need more policy advisors? Perhaps we need to have more strategy meetings? More people sitting in offices in Ottawa and Toronto scratching themselves? What is the answer CG, your loyal fans want to know.....


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:25 PM  

  • Dion needs to stick around till the next Lib convention.

    He is no quitter!

    By Blogger art, at 5:37 PM  

  • "The one bright spot in this is that it will be a small, but impressive, Liberal caucus. Dion, Rae, Ignatieff, Kennedy, Dryden, Hall Findlay, Goodale, Dosanjh, Trudeau, Garneau, LeBlanc, Dhalla, Holland"

    Does that mean they will all be running for leadership? Dion, Rae, Ignatieff, Dryden, Goodale, Dosanjh and Garneau are old enough that one can't imagine them sticking around for long with nothing to show for it.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 7:43 PM  

  • The one bright spot in this is that it will be a small, but impressive, Liberal caucus. Dion, Rae, Ignatieff, Kennedy, Dryden, Hall Findlay, Goodale, Dosanjh, Trudeau, Garneau, LeBlanc, Dhalla, Holland...I could name a dozen more quality MPs easily. It's a great team and I don't think they'll need to worry about the NDP outshinning them in the House.





    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 2:30 AM  

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