Thoughts on Yesterday’s Canadian Election: Harper Still Doesn’t Speak for Canada

Harper Doesn't SpeakTuesday’s election — prompted by the ambition of the right-wing Conservative party leader Harper to split the progressive vote sufficiently to convert his minority support into a majority government under Canada’s antiquated first-past-the-post electoral system — was bound to disappoint everyone. The Canadian electorate remains ornery and angry at the war-mongering Bush-adoring Harper, at the bumbling, scandal-tainted Liberal opposition, at our helplessness in the face of our Southern neighbour’s government’s arrogance, stupidity, self-loathing and thirst for blood, about our dependence on our natural resources and the environmental devastation their extraction wreaks, and about our failure to be the nation of the 21st century that many thought we might be.

But so far we are not angry enough to vote into power a truly progressive government — the three “third parties” (New Democrats, Greens and Bloc QuÈbecois) are all well left-of-centre socially and economically but remain perpetually on the fringes of power, and so enamoured of their parochial interests that they are unable to get together and present a unified and unambiguous progressive voice. 

So we got treated to a virtual replay of the election of two years ago — the Conservatives got the same 37% of the vote, but nearly won a majority of seats because of a shift in the votes among the two thirds of Canadians who loathe the Conservatives (surveys suggest that in a single-transferable vote system they would get almost no second-place votes). What should be happening is that the Liberal leader should be pulling together a coalition of the four opposition parties to create a government that reflects the interests of the 63% of Canadians who support progressive, not reactionary, government.

If we had proportional representation, such as a STV system, the Conservatives would have only 113 seats (they got 143), the Liberals 83 (they got 76) , the NDP 58 (they got 37), the Bloc 31 (they got 50), and the Greens 22 (they got none; in fact, because a lot of Greens voted strategically instead of “wasting” their Green votes, the Greens under a PST system would probably have more than 40 seats today). If that were the case, the idea of an out-of-touch 37% running the government and bragging that they had a “renewed and increased mandate to govern” would be seen as as preposterous as it really is.

Such a colossal waste of energy, time and money ($300 million, just to run the election). The fact that the turnout was a record low really says it all. It really shows how dysfunctional our electoral system is. And the fact that Canadians fell for Harper’s Bush-inspired character assassination of the Liberal leader, and Harper’s falsely smearing the idea of a carbon tax as an “additional tax burden” (the scheme is revenue neutral and would only punish polluters and gas gulpers) was really disappointing — it demonstrated how depressingly effective negative, dumbed-down campaign advertising can be.

Ugh. Here we are, again, in the same place.

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3 Responses to Thoughts on Yesterday’s Canadian Election: Harper Still Doesn’t Speak for Canada

  1. David Parkinson says:

    Fuckin’ A, eh.My husband & I both voted for different candidates. Both votes wasted. And now we have some plastic schmuck for an MP and a grotesque embarrassment for a federal government.Thanks, democracy!!OTOH, I am seriously thinking of how I can put some energy towards agitating for STV or something — anything — better than the current idiotic system we now use to vote in our leaders.Harper is not my PM.

  2. Terry says:

    Yes. I agree. The environment is the biggest challenge the planet faces and people don’t seem to get that. So more years of Harper.

  3. Canadian voters interested in voting system reform should check out Fair Vote Canada (”Fair Vote Canada (FVC) is a multi-partisan citizens’ campaign for voting system reform. Canadians from all points on the political spectrum, all regions and all walks of life are joining FVC to demand a fair voting system – a fundamental requirement for healthy representative democracy and government accountability.”

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