Well, it’s all over but the crying, as the saying goes.
The people have spoken: Harper is out. Trudeau is in.
There will be days — weeks even — of analysis and reflection on what happened; what went wrong for Harper, what Trudeau did right.
My own feeling is that the “strategic voting” crowd had the biggest influence on the outcome of the election, more so than the actual campaigns of the leaders. I’m not convinced that everyone who voted Liberal did so because they were voting for Justin Trudeau.
I read an interesting comment, made by several people on my Facebook feed, wondering why there is no outrage over the election results. After all, the Liberals achieved a majority with only 39.5% of the popular vote.
In the 2011 election, the Harper Conservatives won a majority with 39.62% of the popular vote, and there was a great deal of outrage expressed.
This time, nary a grumbling, even though the results were virtually identical.
By the way, the argument typically is that “60% of the people voted against” whichever party won. As I’ve often said, our system does not allow us to count votes “against”.
To me, this is the hallmark of our Parliamentary democracy, that we accept the results of an election, even though the results may not be what we were hoping for.
In the case of Monday’s election, I suspect that enough people were just happy to be rid of Harper, and have convinced themselves that anyone would be better, that this wrinkle of our first-past-the-post system could be overlooked.
We’ll see how that pans out in the months and years to come.
As for the results, I believe that many people were simply voting against Stephen Harper. Again, they weren’t concerned with who took as place, just as long as he got turfed.
To his credit, he handled defeat with tremendous grace. “The people are always right”. And he resigned as leader of the party.
This is as it should be. As leader, he accepts responsibility for the fate of his party in an election, and under his watch they dropped from a governing majority to a modest showing. They at least maintaining a presence in the House, securing the position of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.
I believe that we will be able to look back and recognize that his accomplishments while in office are worthy of praise. Yes, there are things he did I do not agree with, but overall I believe Canada benefited under a Harper government.
The NDP’s Mulcair did not fare so well. After the astounding results of 2011’s “Orange Crush”, grabbing the favoured seats closer to the Speaker as Opposition, losing more than half the seats they held at dissolution.
Unfortunately for the NDP, that more people were jumping onto the little red bandwagon only demonstrates to me that Tom Mulcair just couldn’t find a way to appeal to the Harper-haters.
The internet is buzzing with posts, articles, and op-ed pieces on the election, as is the traditional media.
The CBC Radio’s ‘The Current’ ran a feature called “Dear Prime Minister”, in which they had invited a number of prominent Canadians to submit letters to the new prime Minister, whoever that may be, to outline what they think the Prime Minister should focus on when it comes to issues near and dear to them.
I replied to their Facebook post with my own letter, which I offer now:
Dear Prime Minister,
Please set aside the petty squabbling and partisan one-upmanship that has for too long defined Canadian politics, and defined this election campaign.
Reach out to the other parties and involve them in the government.
The Opposition parties were not so named because they were intended to oppose every Government initiative, but because they sit "opposite" the Government in the House. Work together.
You cannot heal divisions in the country if you maintain divisions in Parliament.
It’s advice I would offer not just to the Prime Minister, but to everyone.
I understand party politics, and the varying ideologies that politicians and the average person hold dear. But in the clear light of day, we have to set aside the enmity that has characterized political discussions for far too long, and begin to find ways to acknowledge that there is no one right point-of-view, that no one ideology is better than another.
We need to accept the results of the election. As Stephen Harper said in his concession speech, “The people are always right.”
As we move forward, I hope that we don’t look solely to our politicians to lead us, but that we take it upon ourselves to heal the divisions that exist amongst us, reaching out to our neighbours and finding ways to work together.
We also need to hold our politicians to a high standard, not simply by griping and posting rants in online forums, but communicating directly with our elected representatives and making our views known.
And I dearly hope that Mr Trudeau will follow through on the conciliatory rhetoric that he offered during the campaign, and can return Parliament to an effective governing body working in our best interest.
The people have spoken. The votes of those who voted differently than I did count the same as my own, and I must respect the results.
The sun rose again this morning, and will rise again tomorrow.
But… that’s just my opinion.