The sky was brighter yesterday morning, the coffee richer, the Tom Waits I listened to on the way in to work a little coarser. In other words, everything was just a little bit better. With hope and optimism, I am going to spend the honeymoon period of a post-Harper Canada anticipating that Prime Minister Trudeau will live up to the promises he made, and Canada will once again dream of the possibilities instead of fearing the uncertainties.
Regular readers (Hi Mom!) might have noticed I did not like Stephen Harper. Not a deranged hate (as some may allege), but a serious and considered dislike of his policies, approach, and moral philosophy. However, I was also not excited about the idea of a Trudeau government, as I fear that the Liberal tradition of campaigning left then governing right will arise again. I think Mulcair was honest when talking about issues, and though we will all look back at faults or failings of his messaging, I respect him for boldly standing up for a fundamental rights issue or admitting that an entire new social systems like universal affordable day care or universal single-payer Pharmacare would take time and cooperation from the Provinces to implement (instead of just saying “we’ll do it!” and blithely ignoring the details).
Campaigns are interesting things, and the NDP will, to quote Peter Julian quoting Tommy Douglas quoting Andrew Barton, have to “lay down and bleed a while, then rise to fight again.” There will be assessment and reckoning, but suffice to say the tide turned in mid-September, and we may never really know how much of that shift was due to the actions of each of the three leaders. Many Political Scientists will write Ph.Ds on the topic, and most will contradict the others. I have my own opinions about the NDP campaign (using “Stop Harper” as backdrop wallpaper in the last week is a failure of campaign 101, and the silly “we only need 35 seats, Liberals need 100” message meant something when the writ dropped with the NDP leading the polls, but in October it sounded out of touch and somehow disrespectful), as I’m sure you do, but the NDP, Conservatives, and Greens have 4 years to decide what to do better next time; the Liberals can use the same time to show us they deserve the mandate we gave them.
The Liberal sweep really landed in Greater Vancouver. Except for the devoted Mark Warawa, the deserted Dianne Watts, and the detestable Alice Wong, every seat in Greater Vancouver is federally NDP or Liberal. That leaves 5 NDP and 14 Liberals to work together on the two most pressing needs for this region: affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. Fortunately, both parties included these high in their campaign promises, and local governments across this region have been clamouring for this help for years now. The Provincial government has shown some interest in helping with the former and complete disdain for the latter, but the ability to secure funding from Ottawa for projects that will feature ribbon-cutting moments over the next two years may even thaw Christy’s carbonite heart and get our region moving again.
Aside from actually holding a press conference yesterday (with reporters and questions and everything!), the first true signal Prime Minister Trudeau will be sending us in regards to his campaign promises will be COP21, which starts in only 40 days. How he approaches this conference, and concomitantly how he manages the relationship with Rachel Notley through the build-up to a new new global greenhouse gas framework, should tell us much about whether we have really received the change for which we voted.
Locally, I am very happy that my previous MP, Fin Donnelly, and my new MP, Peter Julian were both re-elected (I live in the portion of New West that shifted with the new districts this election). They have both been excellent representatives of our community in Ottawa, work their asses off, and are truly decent human beings who understand their role as elected officials. We would be hard-pressed to do better. With his experience and passionate defense of science during the systematic erosion of it under the previous government, I am glad the Kennedy Stewart also got re-elected in neighbouring Burnaby South, even if it was a nail-biter.
With strife almost certain in the Conservative Party as the remaining PCs and majority Harperites battle for the vision of the “Right”, I am glad we will have local talent at the level of Peter, Fin, and Kennedy to hold the Liberals to their promises.
New Westminster did the election proud. We had excellent candidates who handled themselves respectfully and professionally. I had the opportunity to meet Sasha Ramnarine a few times, and always found him earnest, serious, and passionate about the Liberal cause, even if he isn’t really as tall as that selfie makes him out to be. Kyle Routledge really stood out to me, as he spoke to my environmental scientist heart. He made a true effort to reach out into my community and talk about his ideas, without ever coming across as preachy or a know-it-all (a specific risk for Greens and scientists in general). I think Kyle has real leadership skills that the environmental advocacy community in New West could lean on – if he decides to take up the charge.
Although purveyors of the #NewWest hashtag (me included) were hard on Chloe Ellis for running a campaign of mostly absence, she took that ribbing with grace and humour in the one occasion where I was able to meet her, so if she contacts me, I’m good for that beer I owe her. I would love to hear her debrief of the campaign experience once everything cools down.
Finally, the result was not exactly what I wanted, but I am content in the knowledge that we will not have an election at any level for more than a year, so everyone can stop beating each other up and start governing for a change. Beleaguered campaign staff and volunteers (like me!) can take a deep breath and enjoy the US electoral histrionics with our feet up, our smugness hats, and a cold beer… after planning the Canucks’ parade route, of course. Bring on 2016.
And Mr. Trudeau, please don’t let us down.