After a month of campaigning and $300 million of public money, Canadians have a new Parliament. Prime Minister Stevie Harper felt that the old Parliament was dysfunctional, so he dissolved the House of Commons and what did he get? Another dysfunctional Parliament, albeit, a Parliament that has more Conservatives, but not enough for a majority government. We have a slightly stronger minority Conservative government; however, they still have to find 12 other votes from opposition parties to pass bills.
The Liberals were reduced to one of their lowest seat counts, winning only 76 seats. This resulted in Liberal Leader Stéphi Dion announcing his resignation, effective once a new leader is selected. In the last Parliament, the Liberals abstained from voting on most Conservative bills in order to prevent an election call. Now with a leadership race in process, low voter support and huge debts, the Liberals won’t be opposing Conservative bills anytime soon. They will need at least a year, if not two, to set things up for another election. That’s assuming that the Canadian public actually wants one in the next couple years.
The Bloc Quebecois won 50 seats and were largely responsible for preventing a Conservative majority. Clearly, people in Quebec do not like the Conservatives and don’t have much of an appetite for the Liberals and the NDP either. The Liberals still managed to win the second-most number of seats in Quebec (with 13, as opposed to the Conservatives’ 10 seats) while the NDP held onto their first-ever seat in Quebec, which they won in a byelection last year. The Liberals might be wise to concentrate a lot of their rebuilding efforts on Quebec. There is still a big niche for a federalist party in Quebec and the Conservatives are clearly not it. A strong leader with a better reputation in Quebec might actually lead them to a better showing in the next election.
The NDP received one of their highest seat totals, with 37 seats. It’s a far cry from Jack Layton’s lofty goal of becoming Prime Minister, but it’s a pretty respectable and well-earned total. On the other hand, the NDP caused much vote splitting in ridings where the Liberals could have defeated the Conservatives.
My big grief with the NDP campaign is Layton’s strong resistance to cooperating with the Liberals. Knock, knock, NDP…just because Layton said it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Winning 37 seats and 18% of the popular vote is nowhere near “applying to become Prime Minister.” Everyone wants to be Prime Minister, but some are more likely to actually become it, and Jack, you clearly weren’t one of them. Accept this fact and work with the Liberals to ensure that true progressive values are not split in the future. I know, I know, the NDP want to be independent and strong, but sometimes you have to do things that are better for the country as a whole, instead of wishing for an extra 120 seats that you’re probably never going to get anyways.
Lastly, the Greens gained votes, but didn’t win any seats. They increased their voter support to 6%, but now have nothing to show for it in the House of Commons, other than a seat in the visitor’s gallery for Elizabeth May and a pile of debt. Email to Elizabeth: if you get invited to the next debate, then you better tell me where you’re hiding those lucky green clovers of yours!
I’ve been told that my columns are a little anti-Stevie, so stay tuned to the next Kaveh’s Kanada as I try and tell you about the good stuff my boy Stevie’s done over the years. Let’s see if he can add to the list in the next few weeks!