Election night at the NDP “victory” party: Toronto’s left pretends it won
Judging by the cheering at the NDP’s unofficial Toronto headquarters last night, you’d never know that the New Democrats are set to spend the next four years losing on every issue they hold dear. But thanks to Stephen Harper’s freshly minted majority government, that’s exactly what’s in store. Last night was a big one for the NDP, no doubt, as the party jumped from 37 seats in 2008 to a whopping 102, and Jack Layton enjoyed some personal vindication, after spending the early weeks of the campaign proving that he could survive—literally—until election day. But once the celebrations die down and the newly elected MPs get back to business, one rather ominous question is certain to stalk the party’s every move: what can the Official Opposition really do in the face of a Conservative majority?
“Well, [the Conservatives] still have to listen to the Canadian people,” said Mike Layton, councillor for Ward 19 and, of course, the son of Jack, at last night’s impromptu post-election party. “We’ll have to keep them honest. It’s a challenge, but an exciting challenge.” Yet even he admitted that the Conservative majority makes the NDP’s win at best “bittersweet.”
Nonetheless, the NDP mantra moving forward is that they’ll be able to influence the Harper government. And, really, what else would we expect them to say? Oh yeah, we’re gonna be useless for the next four years? We think not. But the truth is that while the NDP rejoiced in its sudden surge, the Conservatives were the ones doing all the actual winning.
The city’s dyed-in-the-wool lefties can take solace in their party’s success, but realpolitik dictates that Toronto voters should keep a closer eye on local Conservative MPs—after all, the city actually has some now—if they want to get a little more out of Ottawa this time around. To that end, it’s worth noting that when Rob Ford endorsed the Tories on Friday, he mentioned support for his subway plan as one Harper’s selling points.
Now that the prime minister has seats to defend in Toronto, we wonder if, perhaps, he’ll follow our advice. As much as the left wants to pretend it’s more relevant than ever before, it’s the relationship between Harper, the city’s new Tory MPs and the mayor that really matters over the next four years.