Faced with a faltering economy and deteriorating international relations, Canadians chose quite convincingly to elect Justin Trudeau of the Liberal party, thus denying Stephen Harper a historic fourth term for him and his Conservative party.
It’s impressive that Richard Nixon prophesied Trudeau’s election victory over 40 years ago, but you only have to go back 2 months to see the New Democratic Party (NDP) leading the polls and posing the greatest threat to Harper, with the Liberals languishing in 3ʳᵈ place. The result of this election was surprising to say the least.
A defining issue of the campaign (rather unexpectedly) was the subject of the niqab. The Canadian Supreme Court had decided to effectively veto a law passed by Harper’s Government which banned the niqab during citizenship ceremonies. The Prime Minister, however, was defiant that his government would seek to restore the ban.
This changed the election race dramatically.
The NDP, whose main support base is in the francophone region of Quebec, opposed the ban. This however backfired as most Quebecois, in line with traditional French values on secularity actually supported the ban. This meant the anti-Harper bloc of voters in Quebec shifted their votes from the NDP to the Bloc Quebecois (a regional party supporting the ban and pushing for independence), and more importantly, the Liberals, who were not supportive of the ban but seen as the lesser of two evils.
The outcome? Significant losses for the NDP and gains for the Bloc Quebecois and Liberals.
This leaves us with the demise of the Conservatives. It was not always substance, but style where Harper lost points to Trudeau. Even though most Canadians agreed that wearing a niqab for a citizenship photo was not appropriate, the decision by the Prime Minister to place an inordinate emphasis on his opposition to this and not to Liberal policy not only helped in making minorities feel targeted but also made many get the impression that he was trying thrive off the politics of division and fear. Trudeau on the other hand got plaudits for his stance on the subject in a speech where he said this:
You can dislike the niqab. You can hold it up it is a symbol of oppression. You can try to convince your fellow citizens that it is a choice they ought not to make. This is a free country. Those are your rights. But those who would use the state’s power to restrict women’s religious freedom and freedom of expression indulge the very same repressive impulse that they profess to condemn. It is a cruel joke to claim you are liberating people from oppression by dictating in law what they can and cannot wear.
Another factor that really helped in swinging to election in Trudeau’s favour was the absence of negative campaigning which Harper’s Conservatives used so frequently. One video derided the Liberal leader as being ‘Just not ready….nice hair though’. I think that these campaign attacks by the Harper came off as quite patronising and so it was no surprise my sentiments were mirrored by the public when it came to election day. Trudeau fired back, also in a video, which was simply entitled ‘Ready’.
Matthew Yglesias of Vox summates in his article on Harper’s loss that
The whole idea of winning an election with hard-edged cultural war wedge issues doesn’t sound very Canadian, so there’s something reassuring about knowing that it didn’t work.
In the end, this was a choice between a party using scare tactics and uninspiring campaign techniques and a fresh-faced Liberal party that offered a break from it all. This is the first time since 2000 that Mexico, Canada, and the USA all have centre-left Governments. With that, there is optimism for greater co-operation among these nations. Canada chose hope over fear. Let’s see if it works.
13 Comments Add yours
NEW Democratic Party please. And they did not “stand by” the ban on niqab, they opposed the ban.
Thanks, it was what I meant.
Hope????? You mean as in Hope I don’t have to wear a hijab or a Burka? Hope it will be safe to walk down the street and not get beaten, stabbed, or hang raped? Hope we won’t have to live under Sharia law? Hope the police won’t be afraid to “offend” our muslim oppressors and protect citizens from the above? Hope we are not completely dominated by Islam and see beheadings in the street?
Fear???? You mean as in fear that the privileged little spawn
of PET will rule this country, who has no previous political experience, kisses ass with muslims, wants to throw Open our borders to “refugees” (aka Islamic terrorists ) and thinks we can all hold hands and sing kumbaya. He loves Kathleen Wynn (ughhhh). DOES THAT ANSWER YOUR QUESTION??
I don’t know what to say to this.
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Don’t mark the Conservatives dead. We did that with the Republicans once and the Democrats as well. Somehow they seem to survive despite everything.
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Agreed, in Britain the two major parties (Labour, and the Conservatives) have both been written off loads of times, but they find a way back into power.
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I sincerely hope, now that Canada has its own Obama, that liberal voters get everything, and I mean everything, they deserve. Enjoy!
So do I.
This whole campaign stunk on all sides. However the winner for underhanded and sneaky was first and foremost goes to the CBC for a wonderfully performed psyops campaign. The sonorous and sadly dissapointed tone of voice every time the name Stephen Harper was mentioned. The respectful joyous tones and Justin Trudeaus full name when he was mentioned. At no time until three days post election did the CBC give credit to Stephen Harper for ushering us through an economic period that damn near crippled the other G7 countries. It worked because 39.4% of Canadians did vote for Trudeau. Not to be satisfied by this the CBC declared it a landslide victory something they did not do when Stephen Harper was elected with 39.5% of the vote. I naively expected “Our National Broadcaster” to perform their duties professionally. They disappointed me. They chose a storyline over substance. Fortunately the Liberal party does remain the same awash with graft, incompetence and deception. With Kathleen Wynne performing at the expected standard here in Ontario, It may very well be a Conservative win next federal ekection as most Ontarians will be fed up with anything to do with the Liberal party by then. As for the demise of the Conservatives after the defeat of Brian Mulroney (to which I assisted by voting Liberal) they had only two sitting MP’s do not be so wuick to write them off.
You raise an interesting point when it comes to the popular vote, I guess the CBC just wanted to boost its viewing figures.
You summon an interesting thought. Often times, groups of people, leaders or authorities are able to spur and often act (unconstitutionally) upon unwarranted, or exaggerated emotional fear. Whether it is the case of Donald Trump’s proposed plan to ban Muslim immigration to the US today, or the internment of the Japanese-American citizens during WWII (in the U.S.), this has been a pattern throughout history that has (sadly) persisted. I am personally very happy Canada has chosen hope over fear, and I really liked this article. Well done.
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Thank you for your kind words! You’re right, many politicians exploit the fear of common people for their own gain.