Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Reflections on the Canadian election

These thoughts came to mind after digesting the Canadian election results:

  1. The death of the Liberal party is premature. Yes, they got their asses kicked. Yes, on one level, it was sweet to witness in my lifetime. That being said, however, it would be foolish to write them off just yet. They have a long history and an established brand that still resonates with voters. They just need to get their financial house in order for the soon to be new reality that taxpayer subsidies gone with a Harper majority government. Then figure out that ideology, and not ethnic ties is what defines a party. My work in Federal campaigns in the 80's and 90s, I found that a driver in a lot of ethnic neighborhoods was that "St. Laurent/Pearson/Trudeau let me in the country, so I vote Liberal". That group twenty years later is now a shrinking portion of the electorate, and I would suspect a reason why a lot of traditional Liberal strongholds are no longer red. A new Liberal leader who can define what the party stands for can rebound from this, but it will take another election at least.
  2. The rise of the NDP as the natural center-left party is premature. So they got 100 seats. 58 of them are from Quebec. Those 58 seats didn't come due to the hard work and determination of their candidates. Many of those candidates are recycled hacks, university students, professional 'activists' and the usual hippie slacker why-don't-you-get-a-real-job types. These folks know nothing about fundraising, constituent relations, how parliament works, etc. Some can't even speak French. Now you're giving these folks an $80,000/year job. Tell me how this doesn't spell disaster. This is what happened to the ADQ provincially - going from nothing to Official Opposition back to nothing; all because their MNAs were precisely as I described above, but with a right-of-center bias. Then factor in that a lot of this vote was a big Foxtrot Oscar to the other parties, and you start wondering how many of them will get re-elected in 4 years. Jack Layton can do the most amazing job on earth, but these candidates are so weak, a lot will not get elected due to their sheer ineptitude. Plus, they have to now behave like grownups, as they are now seen as the government in waiting. No more silly campaign promises that don't hold to up reality - they're at the grownup table, so they have to act like responsible stewards of the taxpayer. This is what they need to do to bury the Liberals once and for all, but based on the type of people they now have in caucus, I think they'll blow it.
  3. The Tories have a unique opportunity to make lasting changes. If Harper plays the long game, I think the Tories can reverse or mitigate a lot of the problems caused by Trudeau and Pearson. It won't happen overnight (I wish!) but there is a chance to get the ball rolling. Harper can address the long term problems with health care by repealing the terrible Canada Health Act and free the provinces to experiment with more efficient and less costly mechanisms for delivering and paying for care. He can use the current fiscal problems and the electorate's embrace of austerity to shrink the size and scope of the Federal government and push more flexibility and power to the provinces.
These are just first thoughts, but I think a lot of this will flesh out over the next year.

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