Tuesday, May 03, 2011

PoliticsCanada: Election Results: Conservs get majority, NDP official opposition, Libs now a rump, Bloc decimated, Greens in by 1 seat

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's
CBC News (May3,2k11)

refWrite editorial comment:  As of yesterday's federal elections, Canada now has a majority government, a majority if we count not the popular vote, but if we count instead the number of seats won in the Parliament's House of Commons, party by party.  There were four parties in the last Parliament, now augmented by a fifth party, the Green Party of Canada, which won 1 seat (the Saanich - Gulf Islands riding in the province of British Columbia).

A majority government, won by the Conservative Party of Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterdat, will bring stability and will secure a full four year term -- unless the Prime Minister decides to call one sooner.  PM Harper will probably not pull the plug early, since he has been granted in his past winning election campaigns (2006, 2008) only minority governments which served at the whim of the other three parties -- all three having been leftist.  What's especially interesting is that yesterday Jack Layton's New Democratic Party, arguably the most leftist and socialist of the three, now four, opposition parties (which together received a majority of the popular vote) has become the 2nd-place party in regard to seats in the Commons, thus becoming what we call "the official opposition."  He accomplished this, as predicted here, by cutting the previous 2nd place party, the Liberals, down to a rump (falling from 76 in 2008 to 34 today.  Even more interesting was the movement of Lib voters away from that party in Québec where they landed on the doorstep of the NDP,  and Ontario where they fled a feared national victory of the NDP and so headed strait into the arms of the Conservs.

The CBC chart to the left shows how the NDP which was in 4th place before this election, in a sudden upsurge attracted the leftwing votes of the Liberals and decimated the ranks of the previously 3rd place Bloc Québecois, a separatist party which dropped from 49 seats in 2008 to yesterdays win of only 4 seats.

Ironically, the NDP's decimation of the Bloc brawt the newly-elected Québec NDPers into their new party and new caucus in the Commons, while at the same time the NDP lost some of its  veteran parliamentary members from Ontario.  To put the situations in the most mild terms, the influx of ex-BQers who speak French, mostly coupled with the outflow of English-speaking NDPers in its Ontario parliamentary ranks, has created a cuturally schizophrenic new New Democratic Party over which Jack Layton must preside; he will undoubtedly face a clash among his forces -- those who will push for Québec interests and its so-called "special status within Canada" (based on language difference), and those English-speaking NDP parliamentarians who will resist this push and work from the concept of equality as against special privilege (for Québec).   There are at least some strong sympathies among apparently ex-BQ voters in the freshman cohort of the new New Democrat caucus in the Commons, Québec freshmen described by some TV commentators as "autonomists" -- they want an autonomous Québec within Canada.  Old-style NPers, on the other hand, may balk at the anticipated demands from the soft-separatism of the new Québec NDPers.

The anticpated tension within the NDP will not occur utterly without precedent in Canadian political history.  A prime example may well be the case of the r+twing Social Credit Party (Socred) that began in the province of Alberta, where it had developed out of ideas for economic reform originating with the English engineer C. H. Douglas (1879-1952).  In depression-conditioned Alberta, Social Credit in 1935 fielded 46 candidates and won 17 seats in the federal House of Commons. It also formed the Alberta provincial govt  (1935-1943) of William Aberhart the radio evangelist, with a largely Protestant Christian base but was already abandoning its originator's "funny money" policy. The national federal Social Credit Party of Canada was founded in 1944.  After electing a small caucus to the Federal Parliament, in due time some Québec populists found sufficient agreement with points of policy advocated by the anglophone Social Crediters, to unleash themselves among the largely Catholic and French-speaking population in Québec where they to elected francophone Social Crediters to form a wing of Social Credit in Canada's House of Commons.  Réal Caouette became the leading figure in Québec's version of créditisme, once he had been first elected to the federal Parliament in 1946.  In 1959, Robert Thompson become national leader of the Socreds and was well spoken-of  by all parliamentary party leaders.
In the 1962 election, Social Credit won 26 seats in Quebec. Caouette himself returned to Parliament as the MP for Villeneuve, a riding he held for the rest of his life (though it was renamed Témiscamingue in 1966). The party won only four seats in the rest of Canada, forcing Thompson to appoint Caouette as the party's deputy leader. Holding the balance of power in the House of Commons, Social Credit helped bring down the Progressive Conservative minority government of John Diefenbaker. However in the 1963 election, Social Credit was reduced to 24 seats nationwide.

Caouette fought for bilingualism in the House of Commons, winning a symbolic victory when he got the Parliament's restaurant to produce bilingual menus.[1] In this, he anticipated the official bilingualism policy that would later be put into effect by Pierre Trudeau.
Caouette believed that since the party was most successful in Quebec, he should be leader of the party instead of Thompson. As well, Caoeutte and his followers remained true believers in the social credit monetary theories of C.H. Douglas while Thompson and the Social Credit Party of Alberta had largely abandoned the theory. Thompson refused to step aside, leading Caouette to leave the party, along with the rest of Quebec wing in 1963, to establish the Ralliement des créditistes as its own political party, independent of Social Credit.
In the 1965 election, Caouette's Ralliement won nine seats, while Social Credit led by Thompson won five seats. In the 1968 election, Caouette's party won 14 seats while Social Credit won none.  (Wikipedia)
Any argument from historical analogy can only hold in certain respects regarding a current event and its suggested historical antecedant / analogue.  My main point, of course, is simply that Jack Layton has a difficult job on his hands.  My secondary point is that the cultural milieux of Québec gives Mr Layton little ground for relishing the youth, inexperience, and in some cases lack of fluency in French of his new caucus members from Québec -- where his numbers skyrocketed from 1 to 58 (58 out of a total of 102 in the full caucus).   Mr Layton's caucus size, minus its 58 Québec numbers, is 44, which may be the statistical marker of a sociological faultline that even the amazing Jack Layton can't talk away.

-- Politicarp

Harper: Majority win 

turns page on uncertainties

Layton seizes Opposition; Duceppe, Ignatieff defeated as parties devastated

Posted: May 2, 2011 9:19 PM ET

Last Updated: May 3, 2011 12:29 PM ET 

Canadians can now "turn the page on the uncertainties and repeat elections of the past seven years," Stephen Harper said Monday night as voters delivered the Conservative leader his first majority government and brought a dramatic and unpredicted realignment to the country's political landscape.
The re-elected prime minister told the country that government affairs will begin "as early as tomorrow" with a plan for creating jobs and growth without increasing taxes, immediate help for families and seniors and eliminating the deficit while maintaining health-care transfers to provinces and territories.
"And friends I have to say it — a strong, stable, national Conservative majority government," Harper told a cheering crowd in Calgary, a reference to his oft-repeated refrain during the campaign.
Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jack Layton will now become Official Opposition leader and replace Michael Ignatieff, who himself was defeated in his own Toronto riding. Ignatieff took responsibility for the Liberals' historic electoral loss. Ignatieff's Liberals — often touted as Canada's "natural governing party" — placed a distant third behind Layton's party.
With 99 per cent of polls reporting, the Conservatives won 167 seats, followed by the NDP with 102, Liberals with 34 and the Bloc Québécois with four and the Green Party with one. A party needs to capture 155 seats to win a majority in the House of Commons.
Despite his majority victory, Harper pledged to work with other parties and praised their efforts over five weeks.

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