Saturday, October 24, 2015

Election 2015: Post Mortem

The election of 2015 taught us many things. The Liberal victory was an overwhelming rejection of Stephen Harper's negative politics, and the way in which the country has been run for the past 4 years. Justin Trudeau as Canada's new Prime Minister is certainly a change from Mr. Harper. It seems that he is already starting to work on some of his commitments, such as consulting with the premiers and taking them with him to the climate summit next month. As Trudeau said, Canada is back.

The election result was not surprising. The Conservative base stayed steady at 30%, and the NDP vote collapsed under the weight of those who saw the Liberals as having the best chance to get rid of Harper. What I found disheartening was the loss of many excellent NDP MPs, and I certainly hope that we will see more of them in the future in other roles. I was also disheartened that the Conservative base never faltered even slightly from the beginning of the campaign, and because of that the only way to ensure a Harper defeat was the decimate one of the progressive parties.

Trudeau ran the strongest campaign. He ran to the left, promised accountability and honesty, and he won. The NDPs trek to the middle resulted in a UK Labour like defeat. This should be a strong message to all progressive parties. Progressives want to vote for progressive values and policies. The NDP made a strategic mistake by having Mulcair agree with Harper more often than not, and attacking Trudeau even when their platforms were essentially quite similar. The NDP also failed the economic test with their costing document, which was simply not detailed enough. Should Mulcair stay on? I am not sure. I think the NDP would be served better by a leader who will not drag the party to the centre just to try and get elected. NDP voters want to vote for NDP policies, otherwise they will just vote Liberal instead, which they did en masse.

The biggest challenge for the Conservatives out of this election will be deciding which direction they want to take their party in, and I think that their decision on a new leader will be the biggest determinate of that. Judging from some post-election interviews, it seems that the Conservatives do not believe that their policies were the problem, and blamed government fatigue and the desire for change. What they need to do is really look at the culture of the party and choose a leader who is capable of keeping the fringe right at bay. If they cannot do that, they will end up shut out of the big chair like the Republicans have been in the US for the indefinite future. The Conservatives if they want to get elected again any time soon, are going to have to stop marketing only to their base. I am not sure that their defeat was big enough to actually get them to change strategies though.

The new Prime Minister is going to have a massive job on his hand in the next 4 years, but it appears that he is up to the task, and is doing what Canadians wanted him to do when they elected him; be open and collaborative. What remains to be seen is if Trudeau will be a classic Liberal who will run to the left and govern to the right, or if he will actually keep all of the more progressive promises he made. The first big task is making a good cabinet filled with strong and capable people. Unlike the past 10 years, we finally have some very impressive and properly qualified people in our government who will make great cabinet ministers. I look forward to seeing who is chosen.

Finally, after such a long and at times very disappointing campaign, it is great to see such a positive outcome. Canadians are feeling optimistic again. I sincerely hope that this attitude will remain for some time. I also hope that our new Prime Minister will be as ambitious as he claimed he wants to be.

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