What's your reaction to the election results?
On Cross Country Checkup: election surprise
The election that nobody wanted has ended up transforming Parliament and possibly Canadian politics.
A majority Conservative government. A strong NDP opposition. The Liberals and the Bloc humbled. And the Greens, a new party in the House.
What's your reaction?
With host Rex Murphy, Sunday on Cross Country Checkup.
Toll-free number 1-888-416-8333 (works only during the broadcast)
Today we want to talk about the results of the election. They were a surprise to many people because it represents such a big change in Parliament, and likely a fundamental change in Canadian politics. We have a majority Conservative government, and a strong NDP opposition. The Liberals were humbled, and the Bloc almost wiped out. Plus, the arrival -- barely -- of a new party in the House of Commons: the Green Party, with one seat.
Were you surprised at the outcome? Why? Does the victory of the Tories represent a new era or alignment in Canadian politics? Does the defeat of the Liberals and the Bloc mean they are down and out?
We were all taken up with the turn in events in the last two weeks - how the Bloc was declining, the NDP shooting up, the nevervousness of the Liberals.
Well, now we have the results -- what do they mean for Quebec, for the NDP, for the Conservatives, and for the Liberals.
The Canadian political landscape has changed -- give us your views on the election.
Our question today: "What's your reaction to the election results?"
I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 159 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
- André Pratte
Chief Editorial writer for La Presse newspaper and author of a biography of Wilfred Laurier in Penguin's Extraordinary Canadians series.
- John Manley
Former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister and former Finance Minister. Currently President and Chief Executive of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.
- Lorne Nystrom
NDP MP from 1968 to 1993 and then again from 1997 to 2004. At the time of his first victory he was the youngest Canadian ever elected to Parliament. He served as NDP caucus whip and deputy House Leader. He was appointed to the Privy Council by Brian Mulroney. Lorne Nystrom is currently a director of the Free House group of restaurants and of a chain of coffee houses.
- Preston Manning
Founder of the Reform Party and President and CEO of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy.
- Harper's government will stay the course, by John Ivison
- How to fix the Liberal party, by Kelly McParland
- The full measure of Harper's triumph, by Conrad Black
- Passing budget top Tory priority for new Commons session
- Change of Canada's political landscape reminiscent of British history
- Stumbling Bloc: party still looking for answers to explain NDP surge
Globe and Mail
- Majority will change how Ottawa operates
- Public tired of 'political games,' minority rule, study shows
- Can Preston Manning save the Liberals?
- The Liberal culture of defeat
- Here's why Stephen Harper really won, by Margaret Wente
- Harper's majority and the fitful economy, by Thomas Walkom
- NDP not just a one-night stand for Quebec, by Chantal Hébert
- How the new NDP caucus will deal with Quebec
The election results were not a surprise but extremely discouraging. I have significant concerns about the direction a Conservative government under Stephen Harper will take Canada. We have already witnessed how they have consistently tried to silence anyone who happens to have a different opinion as well as how research and facts will not get in the way of their agenda. Stephen Harper will continue to work diligently to destroy the other political parties by taking away the one subsidy that is actually based on how we voted or by smearing the opposition leaders with their relentless attack ads. The worse part about Harper's majority is that 60% of Canadians did not vote for the Conservative agenda and if we consider voter turnout, only 1 in 4 of elegible voters endorsed their platform. The urgent need for proportional representation is evident but it will never happen under this government. So, what will Canadians do when they come to understand that the Government of Canada has money to build prisons and to have an Office of Religious Freedom but not to deal with poverty and homelessness as well as other critical issues. Only time will tell.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
I believe that much of the support for the Conservatives came from the will to create a "strong government". This is ironic to me as they seem to be a party that wants more industry regulation, and less government involvement (health care?). I'm only 16, and everyone at my high school, except maybe two people, found that we are electing a government that seems dangerously close to a dictatorship. Sadly, I find that we are coming close to a two party system, like the US, and a huge political polarization, with the parties diametrically opposed. I don't think that this is what Canada wants, and I would like to remind Mr. Harper that he got 40 per cent of the vote, and that as prime minister he must look at other views than his own.
My sense is that a lot more young people got interested in this election. But I fear that many will be discouraged by the first-past-the post system and will disengage. A majority government was elected by 40% of voters. Forty Conservative candidates were elected by fewer votes than combined Liberal, NDP and Green votes. We need a "fair vote" system so that seats in Parliament actually represent votes cast. The Conservatives are not likely to introduce this as the present system keeps them in power.
I see the only options is for the Liberals, NDP and Greens to form a progressive alliance in advance of the next election with a commitment to introduce electoral reform. Subsequently, these parties could become distinct entities again. While Elizabeth May got elected the decline in the Green votes was even worse than that of the Liberals and Bloc. My hope is that Ms. May will use her elected position to work for a progressive alliance rather than the narrow agenda of her own party that has failed to attract voters beyond her own personal success in one very distinct riding.
After all the misdemeanors, many of them major, all the gaffes and blunders plus ridiculous spending and contempt of parliament, how can we explain that almost 40 per cent of Canadians voted for the Harper government? I suggest it was because of Harper's continuous jingos regarding the need for a majority andm, more importantly, his perpetuation of the fear of socialism and separatism. The Quebec people were smart enough to call him on that game.
Myna Lee Johnstone
Saltspring Island, British Columbia
Michael Ignatieff lost his seat in the last election and the Liberal party did poorly. All I ever hear is how people have such a disdain for both. From this I would gather that the dislikers have arrived at this position all on their own with no influence from anyone else. Should that be the case, then all the money that the Conservative Party has been continually spending over the past five years knocking both the Liberal parties' leaders and the party itself has been a total waste of money. Me thinks otherwise, my friends!
I am disgusted by the prospect of a Stephen Harper majority. I am not against Conservative politics per se. I have voted Conservative in the (distant) past. My problem is with Stephen Harper's repeated insistence on making decisions based on ideology rather than evidence. And I was astonished that the media and Harper's political opponents did not make more of the fact that in a modern secular democracy we need governments that make policy based on the best available scientific evidence, rather than political ideology.
The examples abound. Harper's idiotic "tough on crime" policy panders to fear and completely ignores the evidence that crime is down and harsh penalties don't deter crime anyway. Harper will now try to shut down the Insite safe injection site in Vancouver, in contravention to well established evidence that it reduces harm. I could go on, but the topic disgusts me.
Vancouver, British Columbia
The real significance of this election, in my mind, is not who won or lost but the motivation of the voters. I don't think anyone truly voted for the person but for the party. Notice how many callers have said, "I voted for Harper" or "I voted for the NDP" or "I voted against the Bloc". This is evident in the outcome in Quebec. Here in Lethbridge we had a Conservative candidate who refused to participate in all candidate forums and only went door knocking to people who had made an appointment for him to come to their home. Even Conservative supporters were angry that they didn't know who he was or what he stood for. Yet, as usual, they voted Conservative solely because of the party. It is obvious that we no longer vote in favour of the local candidate. Isn't it now time for all Canadians to have an opportunity to vote directly for the prime minister?
People who voted for change at any cost got their wishes. Good luck to Jack Layton in Quebec. Jack will learn, very shortly, about the pitfalls of doing politics in that province, where other leaders like Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien, and Martin failed to change anything. As an Alberta Conservative, I voted for (and not against) a new approach to governing the country. I am quite sure that Prime Minister Harper is the man for the job. Just watch him.
A huge change in the political landscape, a small increase in the voter turnout. Quebec made their choice to try the devil nobody knows. In all the elections in the past 20 years
the people have not voted for, but against, the devil they Know. Stephen Harper has a majority by default, not by voter choice. Shame on all Canadians who had the choice to vote but stayed at home. I agree with Rick Mercer on this point. If the electorate wants democracy you must vote. I hope that we can tolerate the next four years with Harper appointing convicted criminals to sensitive positions. I for one don't like the gun registry, totally unessccesary. F 35 fighter planes fits into the same category. Health care and penal system are institutions that need a complete overhaul to get rid of the excess weight. My tax dollars are the very worst thing that happens to my efforts in this world. The function of goverment should be to serve the people, but the way it seems to work is the people serve the government. Disgusted with my fellow voters.
Bedford. Nova Scotia
The gent from Nepean (Ottawa West-Nepean) who stated matter-of-factly that the riding has been Conservative for decades is wrong. It was Liberal until very recently, that is, until 2004. I won't speculate why he made that statement.
A couple self-identified conservative callers said that now the government no longer has its hands tied, and can do the things it has wanted to do for five years. I wonder if this is code for going further to the right than Mr. Harper presents, because, his two prorogations killed very many Conservative bills, including crime bills, and bills that could easily have gone through if they did not themselves hold up committees or allow prorogation.
Nobody has commented on Harper's long term strategic objectives. Now with his majority I hope we can look forward to progress in his objective of restoring the balance between provincial and federal rights and powers. I suspect there will be fireworks in the next four years over these issues, not the least being healthcare.
Dear Cross Country Checkup,
The fundamental question is whether egalitarianism or barabarism won in the 2011
general elections in Canada. Given the philosophy and public pronouncement of Harper and his group, it would be fair to say that barbarism won and egalitarianism lost. Therefore, we should be looking forward to a plutocracy or even a kleptocracy in Canada with the wealthy having the good life and all the opportunities for advancement and the rest of Canadians not being able to afford a decent quality of life which includes quality food, education, health care, and other necessities that are essential for a decent quality of life.
This is not to say that any of the other parties clearly articulated their views on the fundamental question facing our society today, namely, barbarism or egalitarianism.
While I was disappointed by the Conservative's success last Monday, I wouldn't be upset about it if Mr. Harper and his Conservatives had won the majority in an ethical manner. In my 37 years of voting, I've never seen a party or a leader who cares less about democracy, open communication, transparency and financial accountability, and the fact that four out of ten voters don't seem to care about Mr. Harper's contempt for both parliament and Canadians who don't agree with him, depresses me. I can only hope that more Canadians will come to care about common decency in political behaviour by the time the next election comes. In Mr. Harper's case I think we'll see that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
I find it truly unfortunate that the Liberal Party squandered a golden opportunity during this election to remind all Canadians, and to educate new Canadians, about the achievements of the Liberal Party under the leadership of Lester Pearson who, I believe, was the best prime minister this country has ever had, especially in view of how how Mr. Pearson's achievements could be used to debunk many of the Conservatives' claims.
Working from a minority position Mr. Pearson's government managed to bring in many of Canada's major social programs, including universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan and Canada Student Loans, and established a new national flag. He did so by working cooperatively with the opposition because he understood that it was in the best interest of the country, something Mr. Harper would not do. It also would have served as a direct rebuttal to Mr. Harper's claim that he needed a majority to rule effectively.
Mr. Pearson understood that Canada's true role on the international stage was one of diplomacy, not of aggression and in 1957 brought Canada the honour of the winning the Nobel Prize. In contrast, under Mr. Harper Canada lost its seat on the UN Security Council.
Coquitlam, British Columbia
Sir, producer and staff of Canada's Crème de la crème of all things political from coast to coast to coast,
Thank you and all the best of British luck in the forthcoming Reform Harper years. Sailing season is just around the corner and it can not come too soon.
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
I would like one of the Harper supporters who phoned in to ponder the fact that, had Harper not squandered the surplus left by Paul Martin, he might well have not had to go into deficit.
Victoria, British Columbia
Many people have referred to the Conservatives' handling of the recession as a prime reason for their re-election. It strikes me that the sucessful economic measures they have taken (notably stimulus spending and increasing EI eligibility) were only enacted when Mr. Harper was forced into it by a coalition of the opposition parties. I wonder what would have happened to our economy if the Conservatives had had a majority in 2008 and did not have to listen to the others?
I am very worried about our country. Stephen Harper showed such disdain for parliament while he had a minority, I can't imagine more respect now that he is in a majority situation. I predict a sharp right shift in the judiciary as well as the Senate. This will allow his ideological agenda to creep in slowly, but surely. Those who think he will moderate because of his majority, I fear, have been lulled by his bland personality. The National Coalition/Alliance Stephen Harper will emerge.
Hello CheckUp Team,
First quickly, Mr. Ignatieff is married and brought his wife to the town hall meeting I attended in Victoria!
Now to my point. During the election, whenever I brought up my deep concerns about Mr. Harper contempt of parliament, loss of our security seat at the UN, controlling nature, erosion of human rights, lies and other frightening issues, I was surprised, time and time again, to hear many people say to me, "Well, what do you expect from politicians?" And then they would say they would vote for him!
This trend frightens me. People's expectations of honesty, decency and true democracy from our leaders is eroded. What kind of a country do we expect to get from a leader who knows this?
Thank goodness Mr. Layton is the opposion. He truly is a good and decent man. I wish people had given him a chance to govern.
Thank you and have a nice Mother's Day!
Victoria, British Columbia
I'm sure there's a lot in Saskatchewan who share a sense of frustration because of the way our ridings are drawn. For whatever reason the urban centres have been shattered and thrown to the mercy of a rural majority. Out there in the country the voters are always like Quebec voters in this election, ie they vote for the party regardless of the candidate. In our case it's the Conservatives.
It doesn't look like the boundaries are going to be changing any time soon even though they're due for a redraw after this census. Same for any hope for an alternative to the first past the post system.
After a post-election visit to the Capilano, B.C. rainforest last week I took heart in learning that very little is actually killed in a forest fire. Many trees lose branches, but have thick bark to survive the inferno, only to be "re-born" amongst the new minerals and nutrients released by the fire. To count the Liberal Party as dead would be foolish. A new Liberal Party, youth infused and sans Mr.Rae, will survive anew.
I've been listening with disappointment to the number of people calling in today who are difficulty accepting the fact that the Conservative Party, under Stephen Harper, won both the largest number of votes across Canada of any of the three federal parties, and, more importantly, the largest number of seats in the House of Commons. This last point is the only number that truly matters in our democracy.
I've heard all the lunatic left's fringe explanations in the media of how this must be an anomaly. it is not. Perhaps the people will get a party that will implement their platform and establish a triple-E senate, crackdown on the revolving door for convicted violent criminals, end the long gun portion of the useless, bloated gun registry and allow the Canadian economy to grow and prosper with less direct government interference! As to the NDP, it remains to be seen what they will do to deliver in the house for their new Quebec base.
An un-elected (by his party), inexperienced, detached Liberal leader running on the need for democracy was an utter joke!
First of all, just because you are the host, don't think you can transubstantiate.
Rex, can I not leave the country for three weeks without coming back to find the political landscape in shambles? What is wrong with you people? This is going to take me at least four years to fix!
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Quebeckers voted for the NDP to stop a Harper majority. We now feel betrayed. Where were you, Ontario?
The results of the election may be surprising but I believe it to be a tragedy for Canadians. Evidently, voters are content to re-elect a government that time and again, from smearing perceived critics to the "in-out" scam, has demonstrated no dirty trick is too dirty or vile to employ. Even worse, voters have demonstrated that they, themselves, are sorely lacking when it comes to a moral compass: ethics and integrity take a back seat when fear mongering over economic matters transcends personal self-respect. No shame, no shame at all.
Frank A. Pelaschuk