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Canada election 2019: Fragmented results from a fragmented country

by Greg Klein | October 21, 2019, updated October 22, 2019

Updated results (numbers in parenthesis show seats at dissolution and 2015 popular vote)

  • Liberal Party: 157 seats, 33.1% of the popular vote (177 seats, 39.5%)
  • Conservative Party: 121 seats, 34.4% (95 seats, 31.9%)
  • Bloc Québécois: 32 seats, 7.7% (10 seats, 4.7%)
  • New Democratic Party: 24 seats, 15.9% (39 seats, 19.7%)
  • Green Party: 3 seats, 6.5% (2 seats, 3.4%)
  • People’s Party: 0 seats, 1.6% (1 seat, N/A)*
  • Independents: 1 seat, 0.4% (8 seats, 3.4%)
  • Co-operative Commonwealth Federation: N/A (1 seat, N/A)*
  • (5 vacant seats at dissolution)

* The People’s Party was created in 2018 by MP Maxime Bernier after he resigned from the Conservatives. The name of the historic CCF party was adopted in 2018 by expelled NDP MP Erin Weir, who didn’t run for re-election.

 

The two top parties got just a third of the popular vote each, the party that won the most votes came in second, Quebec separatists made great strides, the traditional left-labour party shed seats and Alberta defied The Great Big Cause of Our Time (2019 edition). One interpretation might find that the election demonstrated Canada’s growing status as a failed nation. But another might say that, united at last, Canadians found a common enemy: Alberta.

At least that was the case for most of Canada outside the West.

Canada election 2019 Fragmented results from a fragmented country

Justin Trudeau: Holding power with which
party’s support and under what conditions?
(Photo: Liberal Party of Canada)

The campaign could have emphasized issues such as housing affordability, rental affordability, student debt, the gig job market, urban decline, deficit spending and national unity, just to mention a few. And such matters did pop up. But if anything took precedence other than the incumbent prime minister’s tarnished halo, it was climate change. The way to counter that, four of five parties agreed, was to shut down Alberta industry.

Lost in the rhetoric was any serious discussion of whether this country can substitute its resource-based economy for a vaguely imagined green economy, and whether doing so would appreciably affect climate change.

Given the relatively low union presence in Alberta’s oil patch, New Democrats felt confident in joining the Greens’ oilsands opposition. So prominent was the issue that Quebec separatists and federalists alike tried to turn it to their advantage, at Alberta’s expense. As noted by Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet proposed another tax that would hit Albertans the hardest. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau actually made it an ethnic issue, inviting the Quebecois to rally against Alberta’s economy. Reporting on a French-language debate, Braid wrote:

Blanchet comes across like an old-school Quebec nationalist, hard as nails and firm in his beliefs. He also knows how to talk to the younger climate-change activists.

Trudeau clearly knows his majority is most endangered in Quebec. Hence this remarkable statement on climate change: “It’s necessary to have a strong government, full of Quebecers, full of francophones, who are going to be able to continue the fight” against conservatives who, in his view, “wouldn’t do anything.”

No leader in my memory has ever promised a government full of Ontarians, or British Columbians, or Albertans—or, for that matter, full of English speakers. It’s extraordinary.

The question now remains which party will prop up the Liberals’ minority seat count and even lower vote count. The Greens, rising from two to just three seats despite their extravagant optimism, failed to match previous advances in a federal by-election as well as provincial and, in the Vancouver area, municipal contests. That leaves the New Democrats or Bloc. The separatists, with considerably more seats than the NDP, lean ideologically much closer to the Liberals than the Conservatives, but might hold fratricidal animus. The NDP, a severe loser in this campaign, has to consider whether sleeping with the boss would embellish or tarnish its reputation.

Meanwhile Alberta’s Conservative support (sweeping 33 of 34 seats) might best be considered a Quixotic protest. Could a Tory victory have realistically revived pipeline proposals?

Currently led by a messianic kid, environmentalism has taken on a religious zeal, although it’s pushing a belief system based not on cosmology, morality, transcendence or salvation, but on doom. A mono-apocalyptic faith, it tolerates no rivals—for example economic collapse, infrastructure failure, terrorism, civil breakdown, Malthusian catastrophe or plain old-fashioned war.

Those are just some of the possibilities. Of course they can interact with especially nightmarish consequences.

Canada election 2019 Fragmented results from a fragmented country

Segregated blocks of Liberal red, Conservative blue, Bloc Québécois pale blue
and NDP brown suggest a politically balkanized country.
(Image: Elections Canada)

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