Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The day after

Well, as you're no doubt aware, the election didn't go the way I expected. For that matter, it didn't go the way most other people expected, including some of the winning candidates. And indeed there are some good aspects to what happened; while part of me would have loved to see the NDP jump from fourth place to government in one fell swoop, it's probably better that these rookie MPs get the chance to learn the ropes in opposition before they take office (I suspect that was a contributing factor to the troubles of the Rae government in Ontario back in the day). I'm not unhappy to see Elizabeth May in the House either, for that matter.

But while this was a hugely successful election for the NDP, it is definitely a Pyrrhic victory, thanks to the Conservative majority. What's odd, though, is the way things played out in the final day or so of the campaign. Nearly all the polls put the Cons in the mid to high thirties, while the NDP's share of the vote is shown as pretty close to what they actually got. So what gave the Cons the boost into majority territory?

It sounds crazy, but one possibility that comes to my mind is the death of Osama bin Laden. Some people seem to see the killing as a vindication of the Afghan war, and if enough people who were right-leaning but had a bad feeling about our involvement in said war had their (obviously limited) minds changed by this, it could have made the difference. Pretty pathetic, but then a lot of Canadian voters are pretty pathetic.

What can we expect now? The Cons claim that they're not going to introduce radical changes... and maybe the government itself won't, but I bet that there will be a lot of private members' bills reopening the abortion and marriage debates. Most of them won't make it far enough to be debated, but those that do get debated have an excellent chance of passing.

And as bad as that would be, there are worse things that could happen. At least if abortion or same-sex marriage is banned it will be easy enough for a future government to reverse the decision. Indeed, if they use the notwithstanding clause to avoid constitutional challenges, such a law would automatically be invalidated unless renewed. On the other hand, if they abolish the Canadian Wheat Board, for instance, NAFTA will likely preclude reversing such a move; it will be gone forever. And that is a bad thing.

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