Monday, July 28, 2008

On To The Quarters

The provincial races turned into Frank McKenna sized routs, with Duffy's four favourites all advancing.

'76 Quebec (1) over '35 Alberta (8): 81% to 19%
'44 Saskatchewan (2) over '52 British Columbia (7): 84% to 16%
'43 Ontario (3) over 1867 Ontario (6): 77% to 23%
'60 Quebec (4) over '89 Newfoundland (5): 78% to 22%

This sets us up for a very competitive provincial final 4 next week. But, before we get to that, it's time to take a look at this week's two quarter-final matchups. Voting will be open until Wednesday at 10 pm.

1935 (4) vs. 1988 (1)

The Case for 1935: The "King or Chaos" depression election turned into a Liberal rout - 171 seats for King to R.B. Bennett's 39. Despite this, it was still a memorable election, with a plethora of fringe parties and independents winning seats, including disgruntled Bennett Cabmin HH Stevens' Reconstructionts, Social Credit, and the CCF.
So why is this election important? Well, for starters, it set up a record 22 consecutive years of King/St. Laurent government and established the Liberals as the "big government" party at a time when CBC creator R.B. Bennett had shifted the Tories drastically to the left thanks to his deathbed conversion to government reform. It made King our war time Prime Minister, saving the country another conscription crisis. And breakthroughs by the CCF and SoCreds established these two as legitimate political players in the years to come. The election itself might have been a no-contest but it's impact was immense.

The Case for 1988: The 1988 election was undeniably one of Canada's most exciting ever. All three parties enjoyed leads in the polls in the year prior to the election and the campaign itself turned into a see-saw affair between Mulroney and Turner, once Turner picked opposition to free trade as his hill to die on. Vicious attack ads, a big issue, another thrilling debate, a mid-election putsch attempt - this campaign has it all and, in the end, it had Brian Mulroney winning the first back-to-back Tory majorities in over 70 years.
But beyond the excitement of the campaign and the economic impact of free trade, the '88 election profoundly changed Canadian politics. Mulroney may have kept the Tories in power, but the cost would be the explosion of his coalition into the Bloc and Reform parties 5 years later. Had Broadbent turned free trade into his issue, the NDP might have replaced the Liberals on the left of the political spectrum. Had Turner held his post-debate surge, we may have been in for a decade of John Turner and a Mulroney heir (Campbell? Charest? Clark?) running our country. Who's to say how the Meech/Referendum story would have played out with different actors? For good or bad, the '88 campaign set the stage for the modern era of Canadian politics we're living in today.
Which Election was Bigger?
(4) 1935 (King over Bennett)
(1) 1988 (Mulroney over Turner, Broadbent)
See Results

1957/58 (6) vs. 1878 (2)

The Case for 1957/58: While the 1935 election set up a Liberal dynasty, these back-to-back elections saw it crash down in spectacular fashion. A no-name with a long name from Saskatchewan managed to usurp the throne and, in the process, won one of the largest victories in Canadian history.
The Liberals had become more concerned with government than politics, treating elections like minor nuisances and growing more and more arrogant. This would prove their undoing, as St. Laurent/Howe rammed through closure on the pipeline debate and then, following Dief's '57 stunner, Pearson ordered the Tories to turn the government back to the Grits, setting up the '58 romp.
While the Diefenbaker years would prove to be short lived, the impact of '57/'58 was on how politics were run in Canada. It showed that TV matters. It showed that charisma and the cult of the leader matter. It showed that opposition parties had to present a vision. For the first time, it showed that campaigns matter.

The Case for 1878: The 1878 election marked John A's comeback from the Pacific Scandal, cementing his reputation in the history books and leaving Alexander MacKenzie as a footnote. As for it's impact, here's what a regular reader sent in, back when I was taking nominations for this contest:
This election returned the Tories to power after the Pacific scandal, and cemented the Tories as Canada's first "natural governing party". The real story though, is the National Policy, which cemented Conservatives as protectionist, economic nationalists for over a century. The policy was so popular that it extended Conservative governance for more than decade and engendered Laurier's defeat when he opposed it 1911. I think this policy helps to explain the emergence and staying power of 'red Tories' even after their disappearance in the US.

Which Election Was Bigger?
(6) 1957/58 (Diefenbaker over St. Laurent, Pearson)
(2) 1878 (Macdonald over Mackenzie)
See Results



  • CG: The graph of elections says "QC 80" instead of "QC 60".

    I vote for 1935 and 1878.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 10:43 a.m.  

  • Oops - I'll fix that for the next update.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:51 a.m.  

  • Interesting. Both matchups have a "sexy" election - 1988 and 1957. Lots of fireworks and excitement but limited policy impact. In both cases they're up against elections that set up our two longest dynasties and had major policy implications.

    For what it's worth I voted for the two sexy ones, but it will be interesting to see who wins out in the end.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:39 a.m.  

  • I still can't believe 1935 beat 1911. Imagine if Borden hadn't beaten Laurier...

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 12:54 p.m.  

  • "It made King our war time Prime Minister, saving the country another conscription crisis."

    Uh, no. Hell, Montreal's mayor was even arrested!

    By Blogger Christopher Young, at 8:08 a.m.  

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