The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Canadian Election

Canadian Flag by Joe Sullivan

Photo by Joe Sullivan

Ok, on to what actually matters, today’s Canadian election.  This is going to be a nail biter, and will almost certainly come down to BC.  Over the weekend the Liberals collapsed in Ontario.  Oddly that gives the Conservatives an outside chance at their majority, since it may actually mean that some Conservatives win who otherwise wouldn’t have been viable.  The Liberals are going to be squished back into their safe seats and nothing else.
However this goes, credit to the Quebecois for turning the election upside-down.  Their rush to the NDP, making them front runners in Quebec made everyone else take the NDP seriously.

In America the establishment does everything it can to make what you’re about to witness not happen, by making sure there is no one viable to vote for who is actually left wing.

In the meantime, I am comforted to know that no matter what happens, Michal Ignatieff, the torture apologizing putz who has led Canada’s ruling party to absolute disaster, will soon be out of a job.  The possible outcomes here are so variable, from coalitions to minority governments, to majority governments of either the left or the right that it’s hard to say much about what should be done after the election, till after the election.  I will only note that I hope the NDP has transition teams in place already, because the other parties are going to be waiting for them to stumble.

I doubt I’ll live blog the results, but feel free to use this post during the results countdown, and I may pop in to say a thing or two.  The places to watch are Ontario and BC.  Ontario because the extent of the collapse there means Ontario will determine the very outside possibility of a majority for the Cons or NDP, BC because that’s where it’s going to come down to.

Update: Note that it is illegal to report election results before the close of the last polls, which is 9:30 Pacific time.  This is a law I agree with, and I’m Canadian, so I won’t be posting results before then (and I may be asleep by then.)  Many people on Twitter have said they’ll break the law but I won’t be one of them.

Update 2: Automated phone calls are going out with false statements that residents polling stations have changed.  These calls are happening in Ontario and BC.  Could be Liberal, but I’m betting it’s Conservative as they’ve been big into voter suppression ever since elcted.  It’s a pity that doing this isn’t an offense with a life sentence.  I would suggest that if/when the NDP gets in, they make it so.  These sort of American tactics are not acceptable in Canadian elections.  I’d even consider making it a capital offense, and yes, I’ll be part of the firing squad.

Update 3: In violation of the elections Act, Stephen Harper asked for votes today.  The ridings where the false information is going out seem to be ridings where the Conservatives are in danger of losing the seat.  The Canada Elections Act gives the following as the penalties:

If a judge finds a person guilty of an offence, the person may receive a fine or a period of imprisonment, or both. Under section 501 of the Act, the Court may also impose additional penalties, such as:

  • performing community service
  • performing the obligation that gave rise to the offence
  • compensating for damages, or any other reasonable measure the Court considers appropriate
  • a fine of up to five times the election advertising expenses limit exceeded by a third party
  • with respect to certain offences, the deregistration of a party and liquidation of its assets, and the liquidation of the assets of the party’s registered associations
Deregistration of the party and liquidation of its assets seems appropriate if they’ve been doing the robocalls.  Otherwise I’d be happy to see Harper doing some community service.  Saying helping pick up trash, or clean out a sewer.  The man’s constant disrespect for the law is tiresome.
Update 4: CBC is projecting a Conservative majority.  If so, a moderate disaster, but so be it.  There’s nothing they do that the next government can’t undo, and starting tomorrow that should be Jack Layton’s constant promise.
Update 5: Ontario and BC were indeed the key, especially southern Ontario, which went hard Conservative.  This continues the trend of Ontario suburbs thinking that the man who has presided over the destruction of Canadian manufacturing is going to save them by keeping their housing values high and driving Toronto into the ground, because suburbs don’t need healthy cities.  This bet on the part of Canadian suburbanites will work out as well for them as it has for American suburbanites.


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  1. alyosha

    I’ve bookmarked the CBC site, here. I must admit, a lot more interesting, and a needed counterpoint to the OBL hoopla down here.

  2. Old Wolf

    I have been referring to this election as the beginning of the Canadian Revolution. Canada has always been, in theory, a multi party state but, despite the fact that there are at least 16 federally registered parties in this election, this has effectively been a 2 party system for most of our history. If you wanted to get rid of the Cons, you had to vote Liberal and vice versa. That dynamic has changed – probably for good.

    For decades people have been talking about how they liked the NDP’s policies but would never vote for them “because they can’t form a government”. This election is demonstrating that there are now three legitimate contenders to be the Government of Canada.

    Growing up in Saskatchewan with Tommy Douglas as my premier, I have never been a great Layton fan and I tend to consider the modern NDP something of a sell out. However, given the alternatives, I will gladly accept Layton and the NDP.

    Whatever happens today, the NDP and Canadians will be the winners. Even in a worst case scenario with the Harpies winning a majority, we will be presented with the clearest possible distinction between a party that believes in government of the people by the 10% for the 10% and a party that believes in government of the people by all of the people for all of the people.

    If we can’t come down on the right (or is that left?) side of that distinction, we will undoubtedly deserve the royal screwing we will get.

    Vive la revolution and thanks to Quebecers for kicking it off.

  3. Sam Adams

    Et puis, la roue tourne. Bonne chance.

  4. Old Wolf

    I’m headed out on a trip ending at my polling station. I live in a constituency where the Conservative candidate could show up at every campaign appearance and stand on stage biting the heads off live kittens and still win 50%+ of the popular vote but it’s Orange Crush time anyway.

    In honour of the circumstances, I give you The Story of Mouseland. In you aren’t familiar with this story (or even if you are), it is a story first told by Tommy Douglas in the 1940s and is as relevant on both sides of the border as it ever was. Here is the link where you can download an animated version. Now vote dammit!

  5. Ian Welsh

    Actually, Old Wolf, if I were a Liberal strategist, I’d be shitting bricks, because they have one election to turn it around, or there will be 2 viable parties again, and the Liberals won’t be one of them.

  6. alyosha

    @Old Wolf – I loved “Mouseland” and forwarded it to many of my friends. Thanks!

  7. Albert De

    My take on all the leaders;

    Harper – ethically challenged, reminds me too much of the Republicans, controlling, granted he is intelligent but he is very right-wing – ideologically driven (prison building despite lowered crime rate, anti- gun registry, etc.). Lots of psych-ops going on in Canada; lots of favours called in -ex., Brent Tyler, English Quebec lawyer advocate for right to English schooling for immigrants sponsored by Harper’s Citizen Coalition; etc., ex-mayor of Beaconsfield – ex-local CTV sports anchor endorsing Conservatives

    Ignatieff – Couldn’t get elected leader in a free-wheeling leadership convention, finally sneaked via a palace coup, lived in the States and tried to fit in (torture OK, etc.)

    Duceppe – old line separatist, unhappy that the youth of Quebec not interested in separatist struggle, theoretically left-wing but not when it was against separatist agenda then became “States’ Rights” (to use an American term), i.e., pushed against any attempt to improve health care, for instance, as health care is under provincial jurisdiction in Canada or help for education for the same reason

    Layton – strategist, conceived long-term strategy to displace the Liberal Party as one of Canada’s governing parties, pragmatic – will compromise if he can at least achieve part of his agenda

    May – another palace coup person, with her french the Green party will get nowhere in Quebec

  8. El Gringo Colombiano

    are any USian cable channels gonna cover the CAN election? Gonna hit the gym 2nite, I’d like to check the CAN election while on the cardio. My guess is that all the USian channels are gonna be Osama Murked 24/7 coverage tho.

  9. David

    CBC calls its for the Cons, either minority or majority government, with the NDP as official opposition with most of the caucus from Quebec.

  10. Jeff Wegerson

    Re: Respecting not reporting results early before legally allowed.

    Winner take all first past the post forces voters into strategic voting. One may favor the NDP but votes Liberal in hopes of preventing a Conservative. Unless the NDP is doing better than the Liberals then, of course, one votes the NDP in hopes of preventing a Conservative.

    Yes that’s basic 101 strategic voting that everyone here gets.

    But how does one know which way to go. The polling leading up to the voting is ones guide. The only problem being if your two possibilities are neck and neck.

    So early results in those cases would be helpful for strategic voters who have the luxury of voting later out wester. That’s a case for changing the law. Either change to another voting system or allow reporting of results as polls close.

    But I agree, Ian, I wouldn’t report results early either.

  11. Old Wolf

    I am certainly not looking forward to the 4 years of Conservative majority government that seems to be in our future. the damage to the country and its people will be incredible. But I stopped living in fear of this some time ago. As Ian said about the US,

    “The sooner Americans get to experience full wingnut the sooner there is one last chance to turn it around.”

    While the situation here is nowhere near as bad, they are similar. If Harper tries to govern the country the way he wants to even though 60% of the country voted against him, Canadians will get to experience the full wingnut and, I believe, it will be the end of the far right as a political force for a generation.

    I remember the stories about the organizing on behalf of the CCF that occurred around kitchen tables and in church basements in the 30s and 40s. This is a time for community and movement building not despair.

  12. LC

    @OldWolf – that’s my view as well. The NDP shift is a sign of hope, but it needs to be built upon. If Harper indulges himself, he destroys the right.

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