Tuesday, 20 October 2015

On the Canadian federal election of 2015-Tru (deau) ly notable

Sensationally, Justin Trudeau, son of the late Pierre Trudeau (one of Canada's longest serving Prime Ministers) has just easily swept to power in the latest Canadian federal election. In the few months in the run-up to this election, there was a tight race between the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP, although this slipped away as the Liberals clearly put themselves in the lead in the final moments.

The huge Liberal revival he managed, with the Liberals rising from 36 seats (notionally) to 184, gaining a majority of 30 in the 338-seat Parliament; they were also the only Canadian party not to lose any of their seats. Meanwhile, the Conservatives under Stephen Harper, despite benefitting the most from the redistribution and seat increase, fell to 99 seats despite making seven notional gains (all in Quebec) and avoiding falling to third place behind the NDP, which they feared throughout the campaign The gains made by the NDP under the late Jack Layton were generally rolled back by the Liberals pretty easily, and the NDP ended up with just 44 seats, little better than in 2008; to add insult to injury, their former leader's seat of Toronto-Danforth was gained by the Liberals this time. However, the NDP gained eight (notionally) Conservative ridings to compensate, mostly in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

The Bloc Quebecois made some recovery even though not only did they lose two ridings they notionally had (Jonquiere and Richmond-Arthabaska), but their leader Gilles Duceppe did not even come close to returning to the Canadian House of Commons; many BQ candidates performed worse than in 2011 (their anno horribilis when they were reduced to just four seats from 47) despite the NDP's wane. Although BQ now have 10 seats, it is unlikely they will return to being dominant force in Quebecois politics for the foreseeable future. I am pleased to say, however, that the Green Party is continuing to do well under Elizabeth May's stewardship despite the squeeze it faced in most ridings outside British Columbia; Elizabeth herself was re-elected in Saanich-Gulf Islands with a greatly increased majority and the Greens finished a good second in Victoria, and a useful third and fourth in the ridings of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke and Nanaimo-Ladysmith respectively. In light of Justin's support for the dangerous and toxic Keystone XL pipeline, and also the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership, increasing support for environmentalism and green politics is needed in Canada more than ever.

Electoral reform in Canada needs to be a key issue, given that as in Britain it is rather easy for either the Liberals or Conservatives to gain a majority despite not having achieved even 40% of the popular vote (in fact the Liberals achieved 39% of the vote but 56% of the seats)and minor parties find it very difficult to get representation; the Greens in Canada still only have one seat despite their best efforts. Justin claims that this Canadian Parliament will likely see the scrapping of first past the post in Canadian elections, although whether electoral reform will come or what type will emerge remains to be seen. Canada also needs to turn against the TPP, for like NAFTA it will end up costing Canada thousands and thousands of jobs, further damage basic standards of protection, and increase unaccountable corporate influence on laws and initiatives. The rights of indigenous people, which have been neglected under the tenure of Stephen Harper, also need to be respected, particularly with respect to their native lands, and the fact that there are 1,200 unsolved cases of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada, which the Liberals claim they will make an enquiry about where the Conservatives failed.


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