Tuesday, 20 October 2015


The Morning After

Well, I didn’t expect such a substantial Liberal majority.


The sun rose this morning and with it two thoughts on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s extraordinarily messy political suicide as he was the author of his own demise.

Firstly, this election was about nothing. There was no singular issue that demanded a fresh mandate from Canadians. Like all western democracies Canada faces minor security threats due to global upheaval. The price of oil tanked because the Saudis determined to leave their taps on and the industry’s own technological advances created a glut in North America. Keystone XL was (is) a relic of a resource-based economy painfully transitioning into a service economy and which must ultimately evolve into one that is knowledge-based. Freer trade is no longer the historic hot button it once was, protectionism creates artificial markets. The Harper government guided us through the crash of 2008 largely on the pre-existing foundation of the balanced books left by previous Liberal regimes, and a well-established, and properly regulated banking system.

Our 22nd prime minister correctly and wisely refused to reopen the national debates on abortion and capital punishment. Of course the slings and arrows aimed at the vulnerable Tory heel were shot by social policy and cultural complainants. The target was not a small one, but still, Mr. Harper, an amateur hockey historian, should know how to rag the bleeding heart puck better than anyone.

However, because of his American style jury-rigging of the Canadian parliamentary system, he was forced to call an election because of his own fixed date legislation. Without that self-imposed legal obligation, the Harper government could have slid into the fifth year of its term and called an election in the spring of 2016. It’s a rare but not unprecedented occurrence in federal politics.

And so, and secondly, the longest and most expensive electoral campaign in modern Canadian history began. Many pundits have suggested that Mr. Harper’s Don Quixote windmill is the multi-cultural and inclusive legacy of Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s most colourful prime minister, a pop star, whatever you may think of his policies. This fall’s stumping on the hustings was against his callow kid, Justin Trudeau, the Liberal leader and Mr. Harper’s new nemesis. ‘Just not ready,’ Conservative attack ads sniffed. The strategy behind the endless campaign was likely intended to give Mr. Trudeau enough rope to hang himself. Whoops.

Two bad calls decide the game; them’s the breaks. And there’s no waiting until next year after being trounced by a decisive Liberal majority.

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