Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Voters selected a Parliament where the populist right and the populist left will be going head to head for the first time.
Hébert: No common ground left in the Commons
Published On Mon May 02 201
By Chantal Hébert - National Columnist
TORONTO - Canadians turned their backs on more than a century of centrist elite accommodation on Monday and selected a Parliament where the populist right and the populist left will be going head to head for the first time.
Breaking a seven-year cycle of minority rule, a plurality of voters handed Stephen Harper — the most Conservative prime minister in the country’s modern history — the majority mandate he so fervently sought.
But, by the same token, scores of progressive voters turned away from the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals to make the NDP — Canada’s most left-leaning party — the chief critic of the Conservative government.
In the process, Canadians have traded a dysfunctional minority Parliament for a more polarized one. There is less common ground between the current Conservative team and Jack Layton’s NDP than there has been between any previous federal government and its official opposition.
The next four years have the potential to be transformative in more ways than one. For the first time in two decades, Quebec’s main voice in the House of Commons is not that of a sovereignist party. For the next four years, it will be spoken for by the NDP.
The province now makes up half of Jack Layton’s caucus. Only a handful of BQ members are going back to Parliament and Gilles Duceppe is not one of them. It is far from clear that the Bloc can ever recoup from a body blow of this magnitude.
Harper will be returning to the Commons later this spring in control of the two Houses of Parliament for the first time. Depending on the scope of his ambitions, such free rein with the levers of power could prove more risky for his party than minority rule has turned out to be.
When Brian Mulroney won a second majority mandate in 1988, he and his party looked invincible. Five years later, there was little left of the Progressive Conservatives.
If Harper brings the take-no-prisoners approach that has been his trademark in the past two minority Parliaments to majority rule, his party could face as much scorched earth in four years as Mulroney’s Tories did in 1993.
On Monday, Canadians also sent a powerful signal that they would rather try to build a progressive national alternative on the half-finished foundations of the NDP than trust the Liberals to rebuild on the aging ruins of their past conquests.
Three leaders and three election defeats later, the prospect that their party could go the way of the Liberal-Democrats in Great Britain to a life on the sidelines of the main action has to be of the minds of many lifelong Liberals.
Still the trust placed in the NDP is conditional on performance. And as Quebec demonstrated on Monday, what it gives it can just as abruptly take away. Once the NDP celebrations of Monday’s historic advance have come to an end, the realization will sink in that trading places with the Liberals on the opposition benches is not a cure to a split progressive opposition.
On Monday, this split was one of the key ingredients in the crafting of a Harper majority. As of now and as separate entities, the Liberals and the NPD may be looking at a long and self-defeating war of attrition. Those are questions best addressed after the dust has settled on Monday’s results. As it happens, the luxury of time is the only gift voters handed in equal measure to every party on Monday.
BC Mary comment: Chantal Hebert (above) has put her stamp on the events of May 2, 2011. Now I share the heartfelt thoughts of a private citizen who remembers Canada's federal election day, too:
I'm totally gob-smacked by the absolute imbecility of the electorate -- I just can't believe what happened yesterday. They have delivered Canada to Harper on a platter, with a sharp knife, so that he can chop the country up into tiny pieces. By the time the next election rolls around in 2015, there will be nothing left of Canada but a pile of smoking rubble. And we can kiss the CBC goodbye, that's for sure. Don't these people watch. listen, read, talk, think? Everything I saw of Harper during the campaign made me detest him more -- why did this not happen to everyone?? How could anyone find anything attractive, or even believable in the man or what he said?
In Richmond, where many people have been trying for years to get close family members through a mire of red tape from the Immigration Dept., only to be told that it will take years more -- returned a Con. candidate. Unbelievable.
There are, of course, rays of light -- the NDP did brilliantly, and I'm delighted about that. Liz May turfed out that silly little twerp Gary Lunn, so I'm very pleased about that. NDP incumbents returned in my riding and David's, so that's good, too.
But on the whole, the entire country should be declared a disaster area.
Iggy has resigned, so has Duceppe (whom I rather liked). Although why the Bloc was ever considered a national party is a mystery.
While I think Layton will be a more forceful opposition leader than Ignatieff, will he actually be able to stop Harper's juggernaut? God, I hope so.
I was glad that I was with David last night -- definitely not a night to be alone! I had him drive me home after Layton's speech -- I had a real pain in my stomach, and was sure that if I saw Harper I would throw up!
Feeling baffled and angry ----
But still send love to you!
Thirteen years after 1919 Winnipeg General Strike prairie farm and labour activists founded the CCF (Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation) which by 1961 had become what we knew until last night as the NDP/New Democratic Party of Canada.
This morning one could pragmatically rename the NDP the . . . NBP/New Bloc Party of Canada.
The true operational status and substance of this 1919-2011 farm-labour alliance underwent an unexpected critical name and mission change last night with Jack's rise to Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition.
Fifty-nine, the majority of Jack's seats, come not from the party's nine-decades heartlands of Northwestern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan , Alberta or British Columbia but from the Province of Quebec.
Most Quebecois until two weeks ago would have known more about Maurice "Rocket" Richard than Jack Layton, Tommy Douglas, Stanley Knowles or J.S. Woodworth.
But now that Jack is their man in Ottawa they will do what Quebec does best . . . milk the trough until it runs dry.
Will Jack as leader of the NBP be able to hold the party of J.S., T.C. or Ed together, or will he have to bend in the breeze to the New Bloc members of his party?
If Jack could have picked up another ten seats in BC or Manitoba he could have held on to the mantle of the NDP . . . but now?
You can bet Jack's challenge is not lost on Stephen Harper and his Tory gang; nor will they fail to not be exploited it to the max over the next four years of Harper's parliamentry dictatorship.
One can hear the Harper/Reform Party message right now . . . "We Must Band Together to Save Canada from Socialists and Separatists"
In what form Jack's party exists in by the spring of 2015 will be anybody's guess.
The GREAT SATAN
The every day citizens, will be in for very terrible black days. Harper was a bad enough dictator in his minority. God help the Canadian people, in Harper's majority.
Jack Layton capitulated to Harper's demand. That he gives the wealthy corporations, another tax reduction. Layton will not stand up to Harper.
I fear the internet will be controlled, as Harper hates the communications among the citizens.
Harper won't even allow scientists to publish their results. Enbridge pipeline and dirty Chinese oil tankers, here they come. So will oil and gas wells, be drilled off BC's coast. A 6.1 earthquake in the Queen Charlotte's doesn't matter to Harper. An oil spill in BC, well BC is a long way from Ottawa.
I also fear, our health care will go private.
My greatest fear is, Canada will become the U.S.A's largest state. I read, Mexico will be another U.S. state. This must be the N.A.U, we used to hear so much about.
I had three brothers, two brothers-in-law and a sister, in the armed forces, during WW11.
At that time, Canada did not want a fascist, dictatorship. Our Canadian boys died for absolutely nothing.
Harper even had the gall, to attend the services for our young Canadian boys, who died liberating Holland, from the fascists and their dictatorship.
And here we are, in the clutches of another arrogant, vindictive, stubborn dictator.
Can't even bear to hear S.H.'s... voice... TV goes off right away. Can't stand to look at the man.
Surely now we must review the Charter of Rights. and Freedoms to see how a contempt of parliament should have legal teeth and how proportional representation can deliver us from the yokes of the past. Heave ho folks!
Harper tries to pass himself off as a Christian. That man is no Christian. How could he be, with Campbell as his best buddy. Worst of all, I can see Harper taking Campbell to work for him. Two arrogant, evil dictators working together.
The HST is reviled by the mass of Ontario citizens, and it was brought in by the provincial Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty.
The mass of disgruntled Ontarioans(?) voted against the federal liberals because of the HST, and not seeing a difference in the two parties.
McGuinty will be turfed in the next provincial election because of Harper's HST.
So too in BC. Most voters do not distinguish between federal Liberals and provincial Liberals.
BC voters turfed the federal Liberals because of the HST imposed by the provincial Liberals(so called).
Just as in Ontario, the BC Liberals will be defeated in the next provincial election because of Harper's HST.
Harper has no qualms about screwing his friends if it means enabling him to achieve his final fantasy.
If you think BC was on life support under Campbell, hang on to your hats when Harper starts coming good on his Asia Pacific Gateway plans.
We're screwed (to be polite).
PS Mary, your wrap echoed my sentiments axactly.
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