Most of you are probably aware of the degree to which I was surprised with the election results. I was stunned to see the electoral map painted red, particularly the early results in Atlantic Canada. So the story goes that people took strategic voting to the extreme, but I see many fundamental shifts that underlay the sweeping changes we saw on Monday. The next four years are going to be interesting, and we have to make sure that we navigate the fine line between holding the new government accountable and allowing them to establish themselves.
I'll start out by saying that I have very mixed feeling about the result. I'm so relieved that we are now living in a country where, not only is Harper not our prime minister, but where he has abdicated his role as the leader of a unified Conservative party. Conversely, the tide that elected a majority Liberal government is unsettling. I had been prepared for a minority government and spent the entirety of the 78-day campaign conceptualising this. A majority changes not only my expectations for the future, but also those of most in my social circles. Especially when this majority is a mirror of its predecessor, winning less than 40 per cent of the popular vote. This means that not only do the Liberals have complete control in the legislature; they will be directing us until the fall of 2019.
That said, I firmly believe that mixed feelings are probably a good thing. I'm trying to be open-minded. I've seen a fair amount of anger from supporters of everyone (including some Liberals) about the election result, and while I'm surprised, I'd prefer to consider myself cautiously optimistic about this government. My perspective at present is very much let's not judge until the government starts doing things. And I'm not saying this as a partisan.
However, the question of the NDP is one that will take some time to unravel. I've heard a lot about strategic voting as the cause for the collapse of the NDP. This is likely true in the sense that the NDP didn't make many gains, but it fails to explain why many veteran NDP members of parliament like Paul Dewar, Megan Leslie, and Andrew Cash were all defeated in rather impressive upsets.
Perhaps a better explanation lay in the fact that the NDP has changed direction significantly under Mulcair compared to under Layton. Layton's progressive vision of Canada was inspiring to Canadians and, in particular, Québec. Mulcair failed to build on this; instead focusing on jobs and the economy. I'd have to atribute this shift not only to ideological changes within party leadership, but to the fact that the NDP were leading in polls and were seeking to be viewed more seriously. It's no surprise to me that this led Trudeau to run on a platform of positivity this time around.
Having largely avoided taking policy positions, there are many pseudo-commitments made by the Liberals that I intend to watch carefully. Chief among these are the review of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the omnibus Bill C-51. In both instances the Liberals failed to adopt real policy positions during the campaign, opting instead to review them after forming a government. Progressives hope that we see the Liberals undo the damage socially and economically that will be caused by these two pieces of legislation. More importantly, for the future of our democracy, I sincerely hope that the Liberals will in fact commit to reforms to our electoral system. The massive majority mandate that Trudeau received may allow him to escape dealing with this issue for the time being.
At any rate, I'm happy we have a more progressive parliament, one that better exemplifies the values of Canadians. I wish Trudeau luck.