I am feeling the sting of defeat more this morning than I did last night when I was in a state of denial–unable to believe what I was seeing.

Here are some of my initial reactions to the federal election results.

Worst case scenario

For me, the results are my worst case scenario. And I’m not talking about the low seat total for the Liberal Party. For me, the worst case scenario is to have Stephen Woodworth continue to represent Kitchener Cente as part of a Stephen Harper majority. Enough said.

I told you so

I’m not normally an “I told you so” kind of guy but I told you so. The failure of the centre/progressive vote to back the candidate with the best chance to stop Stephen Harper gave him a majority government with total control over our country for the next four years.

At the same time, I’m not sure if the increase in NDP support in Kitchener Centre cost Karen Redman the election. Had she gotten that support though she would have been more competitive and had a chance at winning. I regret that didn’t happen. I knew that the Liberal base vote would remain strong and that the NDP was coming from too far back to win. While I told you so, I think that it probably would not have changed the results. I think that what we saw is that Kitchener Centre lived up to its reputation as a bellweather riding that goes to the party that forms the government.

But there is no doubt that the rise in NDP support did cost the Liberals many seats in Ontario–seats that couldn’t afford to be lost if Harper was to be denied a majority. The defeat of Liberal incumbents is a definite sign that only Stephen Harper benefited from the vote split. The same can be said of ┬ámany ridings that the Liberals narrowly lost in 2008. These ridings, just like Kitchener Centre and Kitchener-Waterloo, had strong, long history of voting Liberal that made them strategically smart if the goal was to form a more progressive government or to at least keep Harper’s power in check.

Now we need to live with the consequences of our choice.

My personal highlight

My evening had two highlights.

I got a non-voter to the polls. In part because I showed up at his door and we had some personal connections. Unfortuntately, he didn’t bring his ID but he did come when he had decided not to vote.

I was able to help an 89 year old woman get to the polls to vote. She was reluctant at first but agreed to come. She hadn’t wanted to ask for help but was willing to go when help came to her unexpectedly. After voting she admitted she felt better because she had voted.

Her dedication to the democratic process is something that many Canadians could learn from.

What is your reaction?

So what do you think about the federal election results?

13 thoughts on “My initial reactions to the federal election results

  1. My reactions and conclusions:

    a) Parliamentary democracy is not a good fit for a pluralistic society
    b) Attack ads work
    c) The average citizen cares more about the ends than the means
    d) The Liberal political machine is broken and completely out of touch
    e) The NDP are not at all prepared to be the official opposition
    f) Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.

  2. Certainly a surprise but maybe not. The Canadians are tired of the mudslinging USA style, Donald Trump baloney. Although the Libs did not do too much I think the way Mr. Layton carried himself speaks volumes. As with Ms. May. The next 4 years will be interesting and I hope (wishfull thinking here) that Mr. Harper reconsiders those unnecessary F35s. And Mr. Duceppe! Poor boy walking away with his federal pension after 20 years of slamming the system. He should not accept it after all he is and was not a federalist.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Denis. I’m afraid though that I disagree with your point about attack ads. I think the election proved that they did work. The attacks on Ignatieff put him in a hole that made it difficult for him to connect with voters. Layton faced little scrutiny until polls showed he posed a threat and so it was easier for him to present a positive alternative. Having said that, I don’t think any party should be able to poison the well for two years with negative ads just because they have the money to do it.

      It is nice to see Elizabeth May win and Duceppe lose. The next four years will be interesting.

      1. Hi James, I was thinking of the rise of the NDP and their behaviour. I feel that a large part of their success can be attributed to facts and not smear. Need too see less poison as you say; a lot lees and more substance please.

        1. I knew what you were thinking. What I was trying to say was that it’s easier to take the approach Layton took when you haven’t been the target of a smear campaign for two years. It the shoe was on the proverbial other foot, I’m not certain you’d be happy with what you saw. But we’ll find out when Harper sends his advertising pitbulls after Jack.

  3. Hi Jim – as a Liberal, you need to see the long term positive. Your party is in chaos, far worse than anyone, even the most ardent Conservative, would have pictured. You need to re-build without the fear of an election. You have picked back to back weak leaders and you need this time to face the country. You have to be happy at the decimation of the Bloc.

    Ontario was not the result of a split vote. Most of the NDP gain was in Quebec. The Conservatives campaigned hard here and won well over 45% of the popular vote. There were a shocking number of third place finishes for Liberals. This is more than a mere split vote, its a rejection of your leader.

    All that said, and as a Conservative, the results in Kitchener Centre shocked me.

    And, if history is correct, Ontario provincially tends to buck the Federal trend, which would bode well for Mr. McGuinty in the fall.

    1. I agree that the long term is an upside. If the Liberal Party is to continue to play a central role in our country, it now has the time to properly rebuild–something that has been needed since 2006.

      In Ontario, the Tories did do extremely well. In many ridings, it would not have mattered if all the other votes were pooled together. They still would have won. But I maintain that its the ridings where the split was a factor that made the difference between a majority and minority government.

      I hope you’re right (no pun intended) on your last point. I’d hate to see what would happen with Harper in power federally, Hudak in Ontario–and Rob Ford in Toronto. Only die-hard right wingers could want that trifecta in power.

  4. It’s nuthin’ but Hank Williams and a hangover at my place this morning. I wondered if I was watching the death of the Liberal Party last night. It was a good thing Iggy walked the plank this morning. The Liberals problem for years now has been the Tories employing lowest common demoninator GOP-style campaign rhetoric and caricatures successfully defining him as an elitist snob and career opportunist, and he never had the leadership chops or charisma to break out of that small frame. The Karl Rovesque tv spots with Iggy’s “America” Freudian slip were devastating, so too the taxation red meat. A Lib/NDP vote split with the Tories sweeping to majority with 40% national vote was always the nightmare scenario, and locally I cannot blame Redmond nor Telegdi for not being able to do what other Liberal candidates nationally *and especially Ontario* *also* couldn’t do. They could have used an effective national leader, and Iggy was not that person.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Dave! I think that a significant portion of Ignatieff’s problem was “written” by the Tories before the campaign even began. I had hoped a strong campaign by Ignatieff would erase that image but unfortunately despite running a great campaign and being a strong speaker he was never able to overcome the deficit he faced at the beginning of the election. I think he has the leadership chops and charisma needed but what he lacked was experience as a politician and leader–which proved fatal when facing off against two career politicians who were leading their fourth national campaigns.

  5. Speaking as a red NDPer who voted strategically in Kitchener-Waterloo, I still wept for my country (physically, literally) on election night. A Harper majority has been my bogeyman for the past fifteen years, back when I never thought it could happen here. I *don’t* know that the NDP are ready for OO status, but I’m not unhappy to see them get a shot at it, and I categorically refuse to blame the NDP for the Harper majority. The blame there should be shouldered by the 40% of the population that will now get what they asked for. Despite some vote splitting, I don’t think a 167-seat majority can be blamed on just that. The simple fact is that more people voted Conservative across the country, in the places where it counted most.

    I do like Layton’s message of positive change and I hope that carries on. You have to give him some credit, and his party and strategists as well, for seeing a hole in Quebec and jumping in with both feet to fill it — it could have backfired horribly, but they played their cards well. As to youth (and he does have a very young caucus) — well, that’s not always a terrible thing. If nothing else, it may get more young people interested in a political landscape that previously seemed inaccessible to them. What the new OO, inexperienced as they are, will have to do is work very hard to protect themselves from Harper’s personality shredding machine; and they’re going to have to learn quickly to be effective in committee and the House. There will be some who will be useless as there always are, but there will be some who will come to the forefront and shine. Further, I suspect Layton has proved himself to be a lot harder to tear down than Ignatieff was and that can only be an advantage.

    Despite all that, and my lifelong love of the NDP, I would have been thrilled with Ignatieff as prime minister. I know he wears a lot of the blame, but I think that’s unfair. The man is brilliant, compassionate, and he loves his country, and we could use a lot more of his kind in politics. The attack ads did work, and I hate them for it. But in the end, it’s the party that’s broken, not the leader. They were running well behind coming into this election in a lot of ways, and they should have seen that, and they didn’t. Losing as much ground as they did is not something that just happens. It has been coming for a while. Four years will give them time to rethink and rebuild, and despite Ed Broadbent’s predictions (I love the man, but I definitely disagree with him on this one) I don’t see the Liberal party withering away and dying. They’ve got smart, smart people and an illustrious history (that they need to stop relying on); they just need some fresh ideas and some time to regroup.

    Four years is a long time, and not a long time at all. I think a lot of what is coming is bad, probably very bad. But this too shall pass, and the political process keeps going, and damage can be undone if the will is there. I like what you do with your blog here, James, because it’s part of the political process; as is engaging by writing and speaking to our (sigh) Conservative MPs and keeping the pressure on that way.

    Finally: Despite being somewhat sanguine if a little worried about the next four years, if Hudak wins in Ontario in October I will seriously consider moving to New Zealand.

    1. Thanks for your comments Kiirstin! And thank you for taking the leap from Twitter to commenting on my blog. I certainly hope you don’t need to start planning a move to New Zealand in October!

      Layton definitely ran a smart campaign and strategic moves the NDP made definitely paid off–especially in Quebec. But I do think it backfired in Ontario in the sense that it helped pave the way for Harper to win enough seats to get his majority. At the same time getting over 100 seats and becoming the Official Opposition is a significant achievement. On the other hand, the argument can be made that the NDP will have less influence over the next four years than it did over the past 5.

      I agree that it’s too bad that Ignatieff didn’t get a chance to play a more significant and influential role in Canadian politics. It’s the county’s loss. And I was never a big fan of his until earlier this year when he proved to me he was election ready.

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