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The Good News Out of the Canadian Election

The Carey house slept fitfully on Monday night, our last night in our Midwestern U.S. home under the same media blackout that kept Canadians in later time zones from knowing the results of polls in the Atlantic and eastern Canadian provinces. We woke, of course, to several surprises (though they’re currently pending recount in a number of ridings, and some of this may change).

Seekwill has discussed some of the election results already, with the dramatic loss of seats by the Liberals and the huge influx of new NDP seats, as well as the pretty negative outcome in the Harper majority. That stuff stinks, and we don’t even know how scary it’s going to be yet. But there was some good news!

  • Increased voter turnout. Seekwill mentioned this, but we felt the need to reiterate. General voter turnout was about 61.4%, an increase from 59.1% in 2008. That’s not a big number in percentage points, but it comes to 900,000 votes, which isn’t a paltry number. There is some indication, as well, that parts of this increase came from younger voters, though official numbers aren’t out yet.
  • New blood in Parliament. We know the NDP gained a ton of seats–from 37 to 102. That number represents a lot of new faces in Parliament, many of them younger and from diverse backgrounds, especially in Québec ridings. Coming from a country with age requirements for Congress, the idea of a 19-year-old representative was surprising to me, but it’s also exciting to consider what input younger participants can have in politics.
  • The Green Party’s Elizabeth May achieved an elected seat for the first time. One Green Party member has held a seat in Parliament in the past, but that was due to a change of parties after the MP was elected. This is a mark in favor of more positive environmental action in Canada, and even if it’s only one seat, it represents something that hasn’t happened before. There’s also every possibility May will serve as an active and outspoken voice of discord against the Conservatives when necessary, and will hopefully be able to push the NDP to uphold their campaign stances on environmental issues.
  • Diminished separatist sentiment from Québécois voters. The Bloc Québécois lost 43 seats, which left them 4, not enough to be an official party (which requires 12 seats). Not great news for the Bloc, but among those hoping for greater integration in Canadian politics and society, this is a plus.
  • There are some possibilities for more positives. Theoretically, the Harper majority means he and his party can do essentially whatever they want. But it’s still only a four-year term, and the Conservatives will need public good will at the end of that period if they’re going to keep their majority.

As a U.S. American who remembers all too vividly the 2004 Bush re-election, this feels very familiar and alarming, but we’ve been trying to keep our chins up!

If you needed some help: Charlotte’s Web: Chin Up!

Written in conjunction with Graham Carey, the Canadian in my house. Post Image:“Happy Canada Day” via rubenerd at Flickr.

2 replies on “The Good News Out of the Canadian Election”

When writing my article I had a really hard time trying to prioritize what I thought was the big story of the election. It feels like a major development came out of every side, like you mentioned with the Bloc and the Greens.

I’m pretty nervous going into it, but I think it’ll be an interesting four years. While I’m pretty sure Harper dreams of being in the Republican Party, I hope the red Tories will keep him in check. As much as I dislike the man, he’s certainly pretty savvy, and knows that if he skews too far right he’ll lose voters. I think things we have to worry about are industry laws, things like UBB for the internet. Tony Clement put a stop to it before the election, but with the CRTC in Bell and Rogers’ pockets and the Conservatives wanting to support business there, I think it will come back in full swing, and Canadians will continue to be gouged for the internet. Older Canadians, the ones who really get out the polls, don’t generally have lives that revolve around the internet much as younger/mid-aged voters so it’s an issue that could fall to the wayside. I certainly hope not though. If there’s anything I envy about the US it’s their internet packages.

The most immediate and almost-certain thing that troubles me is the elimination of vote subsidies, which will make a lot of the things that made this election remotely positive a moot point (I mean, how will 19-year-old McGill students hold Quebec ridings if they have to self-fund?). It’s pushing for a party system like the US one and that’s not my favorite idea.

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