03:03:59 pm on
Monday 22 Jul 2024

2011 Election Aftermath
Bob Stark

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."

Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke

There will be many lessons learned from the results of the election. Perhaps one of the casualties, and perhaps hopefully, will be the demise of all those social media 'strategic voting' sites.

I do have one legitimate source who is busy building a strong case that the 'strategic voting' suggestions got it all wrong. More to the point, it seems that many battles in Ontario ended up between the Cons and the Dippers, whereas at strategic voting sites, the cajoling was heavy to vote Liberal. Thus, the suggestion being researched is that strategic voting cost the Dippers several seats and actually may have contributed to the Cons gaining a majority.

I wish them well. My Grade 9 Geography teacher, Mr. Nuth, said that statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is interesting; what they conceal is vital. In any case, as someone else once said, statistics are for losers.

I seriously doubt that the election results reduce to any one factor. In that regard, I remain to be convinced that a significant number of voters actually heeded the call of strategic voting suggestions with any significant impact on the outcome. People voted instead with their head or their hearts, with a few major exceptions, as they have traditional done in the past.

I know from personal experience. Over the last few days, I had considered voting strategically. My riding was Liberal. I was planning to vote for the Dipper candidate, but I began to worry that the Con woman may have a chance. I also thought, sorry Dipper friends, that Iggy was actually turning out to be a decent man, who made the case for democracy, against Harper, better than Happy Jack. He seemed less self-absorbed and perhaps more able to rise up and create a united vision for the country. In the end, I argued myself back to thinking, what if the Dipper comes second by a hair, how would I feel then! How could I buy into a Family Pack mentality! What vision there!? In the end, the Liberal won, my Dipper came second, two votes ahead of the Con woman. So, I lost but won. I lost but didn't lose? I'm still working on this.

If there was one major factor in the results, it is the Cons held their traditional 40% support while the opposition splashed each other around in the bathtub, banging up against each other's rubber ducks. With only so much water and room in the tub, and cognizant of Archimedes Principle, someone had to go. Gilles and Iggy grab your towels.

This is a sea change in Canadian politics. There is much to ponder and consider in any post-election analysis. I'd like to hope that the Con voters stayed the course - their numbers didn't change dramatically - for Harper's reason: a stable majority government, and held their noses on all the rest. Maybe now that he finally has killed off the Liberals and has a majority, he will be less paranoid, reactive and secretive and thus actually act like a PM for all Canadians. Caveat: I'm a Pig in Chinese Astrology, the eternal optimist.

That said, ye of little hope should be worried, very worried. We will finally see if Harper has a hidden agenda, however subtle it unfolds.

They're not off to a good start.

This morning on CBC Radio in Vancouver, I heard Conservative James Moore and NDP Libby Davis on CBC. Libby asked Moore to confirm or put to rest the fact that the Cons are planning to change the procedural rules in the House and thus limit the oppositions' ability even further to participate in Parliament. Moore completely dodged the question and went into campaign speech mode.

In addition, in corresponding before the election with a few Con supporters, there is an undercurrent to their support for Harper that is ugly, angry and stupid.

One suggested that the NDP would be beholden to 'special interest' groups if ever elected to government.

Special interest groups!! Like the oil companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the banks, big agri-business and so on. What planet is that poor fellow living on? Another went back to Trudeau, who, the claim went, ruined our country. Still another claim bought into the protecting your wallet argument.

Funny that I never heard one word about Harper's trustworthiness or his corruption of the democratic institutions of the country. I suppose all that was just the irresponsible distorted musings of the left leaning media, the Cons usual fall-back position. I had one Con friend seriously suggesting that I watch Sun TV to get the "true" story. Mercy!

And so, it's on with the Tar Sands, on with more jets and military expenditures, on with more prisons and judicial 'reform', the latter despite the fact that most if not all experts, from police groups to prison wardens, suggest we need more money/resources for prevention, not more jails. As the G8 summit showed, we need more cells into which we can throw more protesters and add to that dope smokers, prostitutes, drug addicts, mentally ill street people.

There goes the gun registry, the census, possibly severe crippling cuts/major changes to the CBC, changes to the Telecomm Act re allowing more foreign ownership. And, the end to public purse support for every political party, thus ensuring that money will win all future elections.

Get ready my friends. After four more years of this guy, there may be little left of the already fading middle class, and a lot of people with several part-time or low-paying jobs. Meanwhile food and gas prices will rise dramatically. Petroleum and Bank profits will soar. More people, penniless, on the street, their worn pants bottom sweeping the sidewalk where they sit, their plea for coinage, ignored.

On to the future, as it promises to play out.

Whither the Liberal argument for a party of the centre? I take no great joy over the demise of the Liberals. We lost some very good, decent politicians last night.

Alas, Iggy never got past the attack ads prior to the election. However despicable, they worked. Well, sort of.

They worked because there was more than grain of truth in them. Iggy did parachute in to be leader of the Liberals. The Cons had successfully co-opted the word "taxes" as equivalent to un-necessary union dues to the great Satan. The Cons lowered the GST and immediately sent us into a structural deficit but then was able to quote a 'tax and spend' Liberal leader as saying, albeit years ago, that he hadn't ruled out an increase in the GST. Well, you know the full story.

Happy Jack Layton helped confirm a suspicious public's viewpoint about Iggy when he turned the tables in the debates and cited Iggy's attendance record in the House. Good on Happy Jack but little did he know that, in doing so, he just handed more centre right votes to Harper, the guy he really should have been battering, the guy he said wanted to stop from getting a majority, and, despite your view, a guy who worked his way up the ranks and earned his promotion. This turned on the selfish gene of Happy Jack Layton.

Things went downhill from there for Iggy, from his party's ill-conceived "Family Pack" and the Red running shoes last gasp effort in the CTA that made him look like a complete buffoon.

Regurgitated old platform promises, some promoted for years and never delivered, only made people remember the numerous broken promises of the past. The Liberals had no lessons to teach the Cons on the issue of trust.

Regrettably, universal Day Care is not on the public's radar. A roll-up-the rim-to-win University grant was dangerously elitist and out-of-touch. We need hard hats on the ground to rebuild our collapsing infrastructure: roads, bridges etc. the Liberals need to take off their Nike-style running shoes and get back into their rubber boots and work boots. You have to plant ideas as well as trees. They have to be ideas that resonate with the ground troops.

My friend Ian once lamented years ago about an Ed Broadbent NDP campaign pitch for "ordinary Canadians." He opined, "No one wants to be 'ordinary." In that light, dear Liberals, no one really wants to eat at MacDonalds. You don't remind people of their economic shortcomings; you fix them.

In tandem, the Cons however forgot to attack the Left, supposedly having no real fear of Happy Jack forming government, of any size... then woke up too late, except for a few distasteful attempts to smear him in the final days, which actually may have back-fired and stimulated more of the Orange Crush rush.

In the end, who knows however how many people spooked by the pending invasion of the socialist hordes.

Jack, ironically, along with Harper, got his wish - the demise of the Liberals as his main opposition to becoming the official opposition. In doing so, Happy Jack, at least indirectly, may have pushed enough centre-right people to the Cons to help them gained a majority.

I confess that despite the incredible showing by the Dippers, I was surprised that the NDP did not do better in Manitoba as well as their original home, Saskatchewan.

They did gain some seats in both Ontario and BC, and certainly did well in Quebec! Even the woman, student, who works in a bar in Ottawa, and went to Vegas on a holiday during the campaign, won her riding, in a landslide. The Cons will have a field day, with that one.

Duceppe lost his own seat by more than 5,000 votes!

What does all this mean for the NDP and the country? Few are unhappy with the demise of the Bloc. Is this a false, shallow, short-lived victory, especially for the NDP? There are sixty new members from Quebec. Most are Francophone or unilingual. This will be a major challenge for Happy Jack Layton.

Libby Davis said Happy Jack has worked hard over the time he's been leader to build a base in Quebec. Let us all hope that it was not just a protest vote against the Bloc that will evaporate over four years.

One must hope the long held social democratic instincts of Quebecers, who tired of Gilles and his friends, is at the root. They turned to the NDP because the party or leader, Jack Layton, has no baggage and strong social democratic credentials; he is not overly fond of our mission in Afghanistan. Most, I think, Quebecers are not afraid to vote for the less known.

In the end, many anti-Cons opted for Happy Jack over the Happy Meals of the Liberals.

In the end, Happy Jack reached over the divide with his cane.

Now, we have a Con majority, what does that mean?

Harper also uses a cane - to beat people back with or attack them.

My first question to Harper would be on those attack ads and how they represent his 'family values' philosophy.

Some dork on CTV last night said that Harper won his majority in BC. Mathematically true, if you use geography and voting times/results posting. This election majority came from in Ontario, mostly a result of the total collapse of the Liberal bastion. I am perplexed. Wasn't Ontario's experiment with Mike Harris enough of a lesson; apparently not. Is Dalton McGuinty to blame?

Well, even one NDP messed up, provincially, here suggested that it is a good thing for the country to have a stable government, a majority, for 4 years. As I suggested earlier, I sense that this was the determining point in why people voted as they did, for the Cons.

Will Harper be a leader for all? He has yet to prove that. His record of accomplishment is not encouraging. His platform is a tricksters' model of how to fool most of the people all of the time. The man lies. He'll lie, I suppose, on behalf of all Canadians. Hardly progress.

Iggy was right. Harper has yet to earn the respect and trust of all Canadians. Layton has it to lose.

He got 40% of the eligible vote. Only 60% of the electorate voted. I want names and numbers of all those who did not vote. Then, again, voting is a choice, not a duty.

If my math is correct, the Cons thus represent 24% of the Canadians, who are eligible to vote. Harper has some work to do. I got my eyes on you Harpoon.

Bob Stark is a musician, poet, philosopher and couch potato. He spends his days, as did Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus, pouring lattes and other adult beverages into a recycled mug, bearing a long and winding crack. He discusses, with much insight and passion, the existentialist and phenomenological ontology of the Vancouver 'Canucks,' a hockey team, "Archie" comic books and high school reunions. In other words, Bob Stark is a retired public servant living the good life on the wrong coast of Canada.

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