Reaction Roundup: Canada elects a Harper majority, the NDP surges and two parties are left in shambles
The fun thing about predictions is how often they’re wrong, and the scenario we outlined yesterday (Michael Ignatieff playing kingmaker) was made irrelevant by voters who made the choice for him. Across Canada, right-leaning Liberals sided with Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to forestall any chance of a Jack Layton-led government. In the process, they destroyed the Ontario base of the Liberal Party, making the Grits the third wheel in Parliament for the first time in Canadian history. So, what is the media saying today? Our roundup below.
• The obvious: the Conservatives scored a huge win. John Ivison of the National Post notes that the Conservatives have finally broken through the ceiling Canadian voters had put over their success by recoiling from a Tory majority time after time, while John Ibbitson at the Globe and Mail says that Harper’s win resulted from centrist appeals, a claim hungover Liberals will no doubt rail against (or perhaps they’ll argue that Canada just doubled down on free guns and unfree uteruses). The Toronto Star’s Richard Gwyn points out that for all Harper’s success, it’s actually kind of strange that he didn’t win even bigger. No matter the size of the victory, the blue-orange wave has polarized Canadian politics in a way we haven’t seen since the rise of the Reform and Bloc parties in the 1990s. Canadians have a Parliament that, for the most part, is a clean left-right choice. We’ll see what the MPs do with it now.
• History will probably not be kind to Michael Ignatieff. The pile-on has already begun, with Andrew Cohen of the Ottawa Citizen writing, brutally, “There is no silver lining, no thin reed of hope, no crack in the wall of gloom where the light gets in. This is the gravest crisis in the history of Canada’s ‘natural governing party,’ which may well be finished as a national institution.” On the other hand, Kelly McParland at the Post sensibly asks why, exactly, the Liberals decided to have this election right now. Sure, hindsight is 20/20—but the results were so shocking that Ignatieff’s resignation this morning was inevitable, despite his claims to the contrary last night.
• For the NDP, the night is a mixed result. Chris Selley at the Post asks whether the NDP surge is worth it given it helped produce a Harper majority. But, more importantly, he points out, elections have a capacity to make all predictions look foolish. Tell us more, please.
• Finally, because it’s never too late to start speculating about the next election, Christina Blizzard at the Toronto Sun asks what this all means for the provincial election in October. Yup, we’re doing this all over again in six months. Blizzard argues that if the same patterns hold, the Liberals could be caught between Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath in October. But it’s worth pointing out that last night was also a case of voters opting for the status quo, and actually reinforcing it. We don’t know what will happen in Ontario’s next election, and, frankly, we’re suffering from more than a little speculation hangover.
• John Ivison: A good night for Harper [National Post]
• Centrist compromise spurs Tory triumph [Globe and Mail]
• Gwyn: The centre cannot hold [Toronto Star]
• It is the Liberals’ darkest hour [Ottawa Citizen]
• Kelly McParland: Liberals wonder, why did we want this election again? [National Post]
• Chris Selley: The election no one predicted [National Post]
• Blizzard: Ominous signs for Dalton McGuinty [Toronto Sun]