Friday, October 17, 2008

Election post-mortem

The 2008 Canadian federal election is over, and across the country, Canadians voted for change.

They voted for climate change. They voted for senate reform -- stacking it with Tories in order to pass bills. They voted for copyright reform, changing our laws to make them match those of the US -- yeah, that country we are always spending so much time telling everyone we don't resemble.

Canadians voted against the arts (and by extension, the economic benefits thereof) and against the Status of Women. They voted against the effective rehabilitation of young offenders, and against effective outreach to and rehabilitation of drug addicts through Insite, an initiative which has demonstrated promising success.

Those who voted for a Conservative MP for their riding actually voted against the interests of their riding; rather, they voted for the interests of the Conservative party. Everyone knows that Harper doesn't do free votes.

And almost 40% of them voted "I don't care." Not voting is as much of a statement as actually voting. They voted to let the government do whatever the hell it wants with their money, their laws, their country, their world. They voted that they didn't care where their money went, which laws they would be expected to obey, what would happen to their roads, schools, hospitals, parks, investments, public spaces, postal service, prices of goods and services, public service, publicly-funded radio and TV stations, and mountains of other things that affect them every day. In case you ever think your vote doesn't count, remember the riding of Egmont in P.E.I. Conservative Gail Shea broke a 24-year Liberal legacy, winning by sixty-two votes.

But, if you look closely at the numbers, only about one in five Canadians actually voted for Harper. The voter turnout rate was about 59%. Harper got just under 38% of the popular vote. If this English major has her math straight, that means 22% of eligible voters marked an X beside a Conservative candidate. The House of Commons is being controlled by the desires of one-fifth of Canadian citizens over the age of 18. Viva indirect democracy! Viva first-past-the-post!

E-night was depressing for everyone, with the possible exceptions of the Bloc and certain NDP supporters. The Bloc saw Harper's careful wooing of les Québécois fall flat, with the Conservatives actually losing one of their 11 seats in Quebec. The NDP picked up a handful. But the Tories fell short of their hoped-for majority, the status quo remained (meaning zillions of wasted dollars for an election which changed next to nothing), and the Liberals had their worst showing since 1867.

The Grits are in trouble. They're flat broke, and unable to fundraise like their Conservative counterparts. While they point fingers at the Conservatives' stagnant membership growth, they are in no position to compete. And while Liberal leaders traditionally get two bites at the apple, party insiders are already talking leadership race. Even Dion's supporters understand that he is maybe not the man for the job. As much as I like Dion (and I'm not even a big-L Liberal!), it's painfully clear that an adorably dorky professor is not doing it for Canadians. What the Liberal party needs now is strong Leadership -- someone who can rally the troops. People are looking at Iggy and Rae. What they need is Indiana Jones, Batman, or Vladimir Putin. Sure he hates journalists, but come on! The man shot a fucking tiger!

Liberté guidant les peuples
Liberty is another candidate for Liberal leadership, here demonstrating her ability to guide people.

As for what will happen next in the House? Well, there is some good news. Harper has made it clear that he's given up hiding under the covers about the economy, and is prepared to tackle it head-on. We're all nervous about a recession, possibly even a depression -- not to mention pissed off at those stupid American banks for handing out mortgage loans like meals at a soup kitchen. With any luck, my twelve-year-old cousin will still have something of an RESP in six years, and my mother will be able to retire, some day. That is, if the government manages to cut back its expenses -- and good luck, what with the EI and other expenses that inevitably accompany economic hardships. In the meantime, I'm going to take my tax cuts and run, because I know better than to rely on any more government-funded programs.

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