LOSER: Stephane Dion. Not that this surprises anybody, what with the media having been in whatever the opposite of the tank is as regards Dion, but even so – a horrendous drubbing. The worst Liberal seat count in pretty much the history of Canada, percentage-speaking, and it’s mostly down to public perception of Dion as unable to lead, a perception aided and abetted by every Liberal who thought he or she should be the party leader instead (which was all of them). He deserved better, but politics is very rarely about “deserved,” and that’s how the cookie crumbles.
LOSER: Stephen Harper. Be not fooled by his “victory” tonight. A victory, for Harper’s Tories, was a majority, pure and simple. Times will get worse, economically speaking, very soon now – not as bad as in other countries, but bad enough. Harper’s policies are short-term winners, long-term losers, and the short term is now mostly over, and in a few months one of his biggest remaining advantages – a political friendship with the President of the United States – will be entirely gone. True, Harper will always have the benefit of running the sole right-wing party versus four left-wing parties – but were I the NDP, I would make it a primary cause to introduce ranked-voting bills into legislation, and let the Tories explain why it’s a bad idea. Stephen Harper needed a full term. He did not get it.
WINNER: Jack Layton. Layton, more than any other political leader this election, figured out how to play the game; with only a .5 percent increase in the popular vote he picked up eight seats, a very impressive display of successful electoral strategy. I’m not exactly sure what Layton’s plan is, but I’m pretty sure he has one. This puts him a leg up on a good chunk of the Canadian political establishment, who tend to wing it.
WINNER: Gilles Duceppe. The Bloc Quebecois did not fade away, as some might hope; they remained exactly as strong as they were. Partly this was because Stephen Harper criticized arts funding, which is like taking license to throw away votes in Quebec, and every single vote went to the Bloc. Partly it was because Duceppe knows how to work Quebec politics. Partly it’s because Quebec nationalists still vote and they’re not voting anything other than Bloc.
LOSER: Elizabeth May. It’s over: the Green Party dream is over, folks, and it is time to wake up and realize that the party is going nowhere. This time around the Greens had a high profile leader, full participation in the debates, a leader running in a riding with no Liberal candidate, and a Member of Parliament running on the other side of the country (albeit one who crossed the floor to join the Greens). If ever there was a scenario where the Green Party might pick up seats in Parliament, this was it, and they didn’t even come close. They didn’t even break the mythic ten percent popular vote threshold. Find another party, Greens, and work the system from within. This election has made it clear; you are wasting your time with the Green Party.
LOSER: The Canadian electorate. Largely uninterested in the election (barely fifty percent voter participation), largely unimpressed with their options, not really in the mood for their third federal election in slightly less than four years, and more disengaged from the process than ever before. There is possibly a way to reverse this trend. I am not sure exactly what, though.
WINNER: Any American reader of this blog who doesn’t know dog about Canadian politics and who does not care.