Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Canada's May 2011 Election: Conservative Majority, Liberal Implosion, National Democratic Surge, Bloq Québécois Disintegration, Green Penetration--Israel Happy; MENA Not So Much; USA "pinkos in our hat"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives get their first majority after 2 minority governments

At least those will probably be the reactions once the news or the after effects penetrate the current focus on the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Although support for the Conservatives has not grown immensely, it has grown enough to give the Party a majority government, in the place of its minority governments of 2006 and 2008. This is good news if you adhere to the Party's ideology and policies--on the right side of right, in favour of reduced taxes and reduced social programs, pro-life, pro-privatization of health care, in favour of law and order (increasing prisons and imprisonment as a punishment), against the gun registry, pro-USA, and pro-Israel. It is also good news if you like the Harper administrations lack of transparency.

The Harper government has been called Israel's new best friend, since Harper has been unequivocally supportive of Israel when the rest of the world, including the USA, balked at human rights abuses, particularly the 2006 attack on Lebanon, and the 2008-9 attack on Gaza. Harper held an International Anti-Semitism Conference which came perilously close to defining anti-Semitism as including any critique of Israel. It stopped just short of that, given popular outcry.

Such overwhelming and automatic support for Israel, doesn't bode well for other MENA countries, particularly those bordering Palestine-Israel. While Canada hasn't nearly the clout of the USA, its decisions do impact on coalitions, and when we are in a war, we usually punch above are weight. Harper wanted us in Iraq as well as Afghanistan. He supports American wars and boycotts, and has increased military spending, including the purchase of new fighter jets.

Canada's longstanding dominant party in federal politics, the Liberal Party, generally imploded across the country. Only a few high profile Liberals, including Justin Trudeau (son of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau) retained their seats, while other longstanding and prominent members of the Party lost theirs, including new Party leader Michael Ignatieff. While the Harper administration's tactic of running personal attack ads on the Liberal Party leader from the day after the previous election may have had an effect, the Liberal's own campaign never really took off, and Ignatieff had trouble shaking the portrayal of him as a foreigner, with a foreign born wife, and an aristocrat and academic out of touch with the common Canadian.

The stunning news of the election was the rise in popularity and parliamentary seats of the New Democratic Party (a social democrat party, on the left of the left of centre), especially in Quebec, where it handed a resounding defeat to the separatist federal party (only in Canada, eh) the Bloq Québécois (the provincial, or "national" if you will, separatist party is the Parti Québécois). The Quebec turn for the Party came after the French language debate, where leader Jack Layton (born in Hudson, Québéc, an Anglophone enclave near Montréal) emerged as the leader one would most like to have a beer with (his French is popular Québécois and natural to him), the charismatic one representing hope and change, and the one most likely to prepare the way for Quebec to be included in the Canadian Constitution.

The exclusion of its approval from the Canadian Constitution Act has been a sore spot in Quebec since Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau patriated the Constitution in 1982, with the signature of Queen Elizabeth II, but against the desire of Quebec, which wanted special standing as a founding nation of the country. It led to the creation and dominance of the Bloq Québécois, a federal party that would better represent the province's separatist or at least special standing aims in Parliament in Ottawa. The Bloq was the biggest loser in Quebec, as Layton seemed best in tune with Quebec's national aspirations, best able to deliver, and upholding social(-ist) values dear to Quebec, like health care, pro-choice funding, government spending to create jobs. In the last week, Quebeckers have been declaring they would be "voting for Jack", and they did.

Meanwhile, largely due to the determination of leader Elizabeth May, the Green Party finally won a seat in Parliament--hers.

So, now the political map  of Canada, instead of its traditional red (Liberal) and blue (Conservative), is a Matisse-like and more polarizing patchwork of orange (New Democratic Party) and blue (Conservative). Depending in part on the outcome of the USA 2012 election, our neighbours to the south may or may not tolerate so much orange, representing the "pinkos". Michael Moore is probably happy, but most of the rest of the country may not be, particularly Corporate America. The Republican Party is most likely to welcome a Harper majority, given the similitude of his ideology, policies, and campaign strategies to those of the George W Bush administration.

Your comments, thoughts, impressions?


2 comments:

Wendy said...

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

Susanne said...

I was surprised to read this! For some reason I thought you represented the majority of Canadians and when I saw Harper lost the no-confidence vote, I thought how happy you would be for a new election. Never expected this outcome, but I don't keep up with Canadian politics much at all. You've actually helped remedy this a bit. :)

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