Well, the votes are in, and Stephen Harper has his majority government.
- The right moves further to the right. The Tories, after spending five years walking all over Canadians as a minority, now get to walk all over Canadians even more as a majority. Harper believes – as he should, with these numbers – that he has a mandate from Canada to impose his agenda and move the government rightward. Forget the Shit Harper Did; what about the Shit Harper will do?
- The left moves further to the left. The official opposition is now the NDP, not the Liberals. The same NDP who has campaigned on anti-Israel platforms; who cozies up to the labour unions; who believes that quota systems will provide equality. The NDP is positioning itself as the de facto Tory alternative, and with nearly three times as many seats as the Liberals, it clearly believes that it is the voice of the left – or the potential leader of any merger or move to unite the progressive parties. Ironically, the jubilant Layton doesn’t seem to grasp that he had more power in fourth place in a Tory minority than he does in second place in a Tory majority.
- The middle disintegrates. The Liberal party is in shambles. They lost over half their seats and most of their star MPs. They lost official opposition status. They will have to regroup and rebuild. And the common sense centre, the great balancing force against polarization, is severely crippled. Moderation is what suffers in this outcome.
- A weaker official opposition. A Harper majority is a scary enough prospect. But now 102 NDP MPs – many of whom are complete political rookies – will be heading to Ottawa to serve as the official opposition. Even seasoned Liberal MPs would have had a hard time keeping the Harpers in check. There’s no way that inexperienced political neophytes from the NDP will be able to pull it off. Harper’s now got a majority with no strong opposition; he can basically do whatever he wants and get away with it.
- Bloc collapses, but sovereignty gets a boost. The big news of the night was the Bloc Quebecois’s collapse from 47 seats to 4 amidst the Quebec “orange crush”, and Duceppe’s defeat and resignation. It should be good news for federalism? Right? Wrong. I’ve never seen so many Quebecers feel disenfranchised and alienated from the rest of Canada. This is going to provide a huge boost to sovereignty. I’m about as staunch a federalist as it gets, but even I have to admit that I see their point. Quebec voted overwhelmingly left-wing progressive NDP; the rest of Canada (except for Newfoundland) voted overwhelmingly Conservative. Is there any point in arguing that we’re not different here in La Belle Province?
- Human rights? What human rights? With as many as four Supreme Court seats opening up to be stacked by Harper-crony Conservatives during this term. Abortion rights, gay marriage, rights of women, rights of minorities, immigrants’ rights… you name it, it’s on their agenda for attack.
- No more funding for arts and culture. That is, unless the Calgary Stampede is your idea of a cultural event.
- Technology and innovation? Not on Harper’s watch. With important issues facing our country around telecom consolidation, internet billing and metering, privacy, digital rights management… the only party who didn’t respond to Canadians’ concerns about internet and digital policy is the one now holding a majority in Parliament. Four or five more years for the rest of the world to advance while Canada lags behind? Will we even have an economy when Harper is done with us?
- Canadians get slapped around; claim we fell down the stairs. We have a government who ignores us at every turn, walks all over us, and breaks the law with impunity. We get a chance to toss it out on its ear. Instead, we go crawling back to it. Domestic abuse on a grand scale, anyone? Basically, we’ve just sent Harper a message that he can get away with anything. And he will.
- Harper plans to reward his “base”. The Alberta-native social conservative movement has been waiting a long time in minority to get rewarded for its efforts to put Harper in power. All this time, he didn’t revisit socially conservative issues because he didn’t have a mandate and knew that the opposition wouldn’t let him get away with it. Now, all these interest groups want their pound of flesh. Our flesh.
The silver lining is, it’s only 4 or 5 years. The question is, will we recognize Canada after all that time?