The new political landscape of Canada is a little more blue today and so are the left of center liberals throughout Canada. Below are the new colours of Canada, the voting results of 2011 versus the voting results of 2008. Through these national visuals, you can definitely see more orange, but this election was won in the small, densely populated ridings in Southern Ontario.
The orange wave of the New Democratic Party definitely has come crashing down hard, on the Bloc Quebecois specifically. The NDP gained ground throughout Quebec, one of the major battlegrounds in any Canadian Election.
The NDP gained 65 seats nationally, totaling 102 compared to the 37 they held prior to this election. They have now become the official opposition party to the newly formed Conservative majority government headed once again by Stephen Harper.
While the NDP did indeed gain ground, it came at the loss of left of center liberals in Canada. The orange wave seems to have split the vote of left wingers to the delight of the Conservatives. In some ridings, the NDP was strong enough to oust incumbents and in Quebec where the Conservative party lost three cabinet ministers. But in areas where the surge wasn’t strong enough, the Conservative party representative easily won. It seems that many people were so caught up in the national polls that for the last few weeks documented the rise in popularity of the NDP, that they didn’t stop to check what was going on in their own riding.
In a blog yesterday, I linked to an article from the CBC that outlined the low profiles of not only my own riding’s NDP candidate but also the NDP candidate from Ottawa-Orleans, Martine Cenatus. Even with coverage by the CBC, a national news source, that contained quotes like the following from Cenatus, she still received a boost in votes compared to the last NDP candidate in that riding.
A recent Carleton graduate, Cenatus said she wasn’t really trained in how to run a campaign.
“I haven’t had any training per se as to how to be a candidate, nor do I think that there is a way of training a person as to be a candidate. Really, what it is is you have to stand up for yourself to spread the word and get other people to stand up with you,” she said.
Customers in an Orleans coffee shop Wednesday said they had never heard of Cenatus.
Despite the lack of campaigning on Cenatus’ part, she still took over 9,000 votes, close to 15% of the vote. The Conservative candidate and incumbent, Royal Galipeau, won the riding by less than 4,000 votes over Liberal candidate, David Bertschi. While he did win in 2008, looking at both sets of voting results, it’s clear that the orange wave and potentially the youth vote gave the relatively unknown NDP candidate nearly 3000 extra votes.
Ottawa-Orleans is only one of quite a few ridings where this happened. Scarborough Center, Don Valley West, Madawaska-Restigouche, and Vancouver South are all examples of what happened in Ottawa-Orleans. Close races where the Liberal vote just wasn’t enough to win out over the Conservative candidate. If the left of center vote was combined in those ridings, the New Liberal Democratic Party of Canada would have won in a landslide.
While I don’t believe that each person that voted NDP was voting strategically. It’s easy to assume that those who voted for the national party that leans furthest to the left in Canada, are most likely against a Conservative majority. Those people, would most likely be more inclined to vote for the Liberal Party in areas that a small amount of research could have clearly indicated the NDP candidate had a minimal chance of winning.
A riding that shocked me was the Brampton-Springdale riding just outside of Toronto, where Parm Gill won easily over the Liberal incumbent Ruby Dhalla despite recent bad press about his access to Immigration Minster Jason Kenney. The interview of Kenney(video here) broadcast on The National a few nights ago made Kenney look very uncomfortable to say the least.
It seems that the Conservative smear campaign of the Liberals and Michael Ignatieff has paid off. While it did most likely cause the orange wave of the NDP, as voters from the left became unsure of the Liberal Party leadership and jumped ship into the swelling orange ocean below. Not enough took the leap and the united right wing won the day. Canada has spoken and it seems they want 4 years of Stephen Harper doing whatever he wants. We’ll see where that takes us in the end. Those on the left are going to have to wait 4 years to see if they’ll ever be able to say, “I told you so.” For Canada’s sake, I hope it doesn’t get bad enough that they ever have to though.