By Robert A. Vella
As a progressive American, I am ecstatic that Canadians rose up and booted the backward conservative ideologue Stephen Harper out of office. Autocratic henchmen of the aristocracy no longer have any place in this increasingly troubled new century which will test the stability of human civilization like never before. However, in their exuberance to dethrone him, Canadians fell for the very same illusion offered by Barack Obama seven years earlier. Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau’s “sunny day” and “real change” rhetoric sounds almost identical to Obama’s “hope and change” meme from 2008… because it most certainly is.
Canada did move to the left; but, because its conservative government had taken the country so far to the right under the nine years of Harper, this election will give it a centrist government and not a progressive one. In addition to the sound bashing suffered by the Conservative Party, the progressive New Democratic Party (NDP) and Green Party fared even worse.
Now, the Liberals were elected or leading in 184 ridings [Member of Parliament electoral districts for the House of Commons], having won seats in every province and taking the lead in all provinces except Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Tories followed with elected in more than 99 seats, while the NDP was at 44. The Bloc [Bloc Québécois, a partisan social democratic party in Quebec], meanwhile, was elected in 10 seats and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was re-elected in B.C. [clarification added by TSJ]
The Liberals finished with 39.5 per cent of the popular vote, while the other parties took the following percentages of the popular vote:
- Conservatives: 31.9 per cent
- NDP: 19.7 per cent
- Bloc Québécois:: 4.7 per cent
- Green Party: 3.5 per cent
Tom Mulcair’s NDP moves to third-party status, having also been dealt a devastating blow. At the beginning of the 11-week campaign the party was considered a front-runner, only to see that lead evaporate over the past weeks.
The NDP was on the path to lose 50 seats in Quebec, which in the last election was a significant source of the so-called orange wave. The party had hoped that this election, at the very least, could have resulted in the party’s second-best showing, ahead of 1988 when they won 43 seats and 20 per cent of the popular vote. But for much of the night even that standard was in doubt.
The Liberal Party is roughly equivalent to America’s Democratic Party. Its initial years in power might look similar to the first two years of Obama’s presidency (2009-2010), although perhaps more aggressive considering the procedural differences between Canada’s parliamentary system and the U.S. presidential system.
From Time – What a Justin Trudeau Win Means for Canada:
The incoming Prime Minister is promising significant changes in taxation, spending, marijuana policy and even the voting system
Who Is Trudeau?
The Liberal Party came out of the 2011 election in third place, winning only a 10th of the seats in Parliament — a historic loss for a party that has produced many noted Canadian Prime Ministers and was viewed as the main rival to the Conservatives. A party leadership race ended in the young, shaggy-haired Justin Trudeau coming forward as the new leader to replace staunch academic Michael Ignatieff, and his interim replacement, Bob Rae. But many doubted that Trudeau had the wisdom — he’s only 43 — or the experience to take the reins of the Liberal Party, let alone run the country as its Prime Minister. He’d only entered politics in 2008 as the member of Parliament for the Montreal riding, or electoral district, of Papineau. He had also previously been a teacher and activist, not a lawyer or a business leader like some of his political peers.
He also has a historic legacy to live up to — his father was Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a Canadian leader of legendary proportions who helped usher in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and official bilingualism throughout the country. While in some ways, this legacy has given the younger Trudeau a boost — growing up famous has made him very comfortable and recognizable in the public eye — it’s also caused inevitable comparisons and criticisms. During the election campaign, some speculated that Trudeau simply didn’t have the intellectual capacity of his father — a lawyer and professor — and wouldn’t be able to lead the nation with the same vision and decisiveness.
Evidently, these qualms were not enough to stop Canadians electing Trudeau as the country’s new Prime Minister. Now, Trudeau has some big promises to fulfill to prove that his leadership qualities have more to do with his brains than his good hair and charm as he plots out his first moves as the country’s leader.
After the 8-year disaster of Republican Party rule in America, President Obama and his Democrats kept the national ship from sinking and managed to get it moving forward – albeit quite slowly. However, his administration has failed to fulfill most of the big promises it had offered to the public. Now, Trudeau finds himself in a similar situation. The Canadian people, who are more aware of the serious global challenges which lay ahead than are the American people, might find their patience running thin much sooner.