Meanwhile, In Canada…

They just had elections. The Conservatives won big, actually getting a majority with 166 seats, eleven more than they needed. The third time’s a charm, Tories!

Perhaps the most interesting news, though, is what happened with the minority parties. The Greens elected a member outright from BC, the Bloc Quebecois was eviscerated down to four members and got less than a quarter of the total votes in Quebec. The Liberal Party fell into such disarray that the former also-ran third-party New Democratic Party will now be the official opposition. Only 26 Liberals got elected to the more than 300-member Parliament, not including the party leader. That’s a bit like Nancy Pelosi not winning re-election. As I read it, this suggests that opinions in Canada are more polarized than they have been previously, since it seems to me that the NDP is appreciably to the left of the Liberals, and the Tories are considerably more conservative (in a way harmonious with the meaning of that term in US politics) than they have been.

Canadian Readers should feel free to correct me if my observations from south of the border are inaccurate. Congratulations, I think, to Canada on finally having a majority government for the first time in seven years and to Prime Minister Harper for not having to play tricks with the Governor-General to continue running the government.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. The Conservatives won big, actually getting a majority with 166 seats, eleven more than they needed.

    USA! USA! USA!

  2. I’m not convinced that a majority government is always a good thing.

    A minority government has to engage in dialogue and negotiate, fostering a more balanced political discourse. A two-party system such as in the United States seems to foster highly polarized points of view, leaving moderates unrepresented. As a result, moderates are being marginalized.

    I wouldn’t trade a deadlocked democracy even for a benevolent dictator.

  3. I’m curious to know if the “Liberals” in Canada are “Liberal” in the sense that American “Liberals” are? I know almost naught about present-day Canadian politics, but I know that before WWII, at strain in Canadian “Liberalism” was perhaps more 19th-century liberal than American Liberals are (now).

    • The Liberal Party in the 1990s and much of the 2000s was either dominated by free market fiscal conservatives or had a large strain of them. They drifted away from that in 2008 with a big Green Shift plan, which was a platform more along the lines of a lefty Democratic platform.

      On social issues, they’re normally rather liberal or even libertarian.

      So yes, they were (briefly) a party of classical liberals. They haven’t always been such though (see their social democratic years from 1968-1988), and there’s no guarantee they’ll keep it up.

  4. My take is not any great political shift, but that the Liberals (and the Bloc) had a similar sort of epic fail leadership as the Progressive Conservatives had in the 90’s.

  5. The leader of the Liberals is the descendant of Russian nobility and could easily be mistaken for a vampire trying to get invited to your dinner party. He spent a lot of time in America and I think there’s a feeling that his party is leaning to close to conservative politics now. If you want to vote for leftist ideas, they aren’t your party, you have to go with NDP or Green.

    The Bloc voters swung over to NDP but that doesn’t prove that they’ve given up on the sovereignty of Quebec. They may have just realized that NDP is [or claims to be] sympathetic to their cause. The NDP actually have appeal on the federal level where a purely separatist party cannot. For the first time there’s an official opposition party that may champion their values.

    Meanwhile there’s a part of the population that will always vote Conservative for similar reasons as the hardcore Republicans in the US (lowering taxes, deregulating stuff, abortion, and other typical old white people concerns). There’s also a big chunk of the population who are scared about falling into a deeper recession and have (correctly or incorrectly) bought into the narrative that only Conservative economics will help us.

    At least that’s how I interpret it all.

  6. My first thought was that the Conservatives won big, but looking at the number of seats won, it seems more like the NDP did really well and the Liberals did really bad and the Conservatives jumped a little. I’d agree with the polarization thesis.

  7. I asked my father-in-law about what happened because he’s Canadian, smart, and been watching these things for years. His answer, as closely as I can remember it: “In Canada, the Conservatives run from the right and govern from the center, while the Liberals run from the left and govern from the center. If Harper is smart, he will continue to govern from the center. So far, he’s been a steady hand and Canadians have decided to let him get on with it. The Liberals made the mistake of not considering that Canadians are sick of elections at this point. The NDP has actually got a fascinating man at their head, which helps them.”

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