small flightless bird

Monday, January 30, 2006

did the conservatives win or lose?

Specifically in response to the Washington Post article about the Canadian election titled A Defeat for Anti-Americanism, but also because these misconceptions seem pretty popular, I'd like to say something and hope that it at least generates some angry comments.

Stephen Harper and the Conservatives won the election, in the technical sense: they have more seats in the House of Commons than any other party. But could anyone seriously call it a victory? Let's look at a few facts:

  • The Liberal Party has been in power for more than twelve years, which is enough time to make a lot of mistakes.
  • The Gomery Report put it in writing that major Liberal figures are guilty of corruption.
  • Out of the top five political parties in Canada, only one is officially conservative: the BQ are often more progressive than the NDP or the Green Party; Paul Martin is pretty conservative but the Liberals are generally centrist.
  • Many (if not most) Canadians have long considered it a waste to vote for any party other than the Liberals or the Conservatives.
  • Only 36% of voters cast their ballots in favour of Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
  • 30% of voters voted for the Liberals.
  • Combined, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloq got 58% of the popular vote.

When you add up all these facts, the result is pretty clear. Canada has not "gone conservative", and Stephen Harper didn't really "win" the election. He was up against an unpopular party with a leader nobody trusted, yet he still managed to win by only a small minority. And since most people were voting against the Liberals rather than for the Conservatives, I think it won't be long before Canadians get a taste of who, exactly, they've elected. And it won't be pretty.