Fucking eh. How did this happen? After two weeks of the increasing suggestion of a Conservative minority/strong New Democrat opposition, the Canadian electorate surprised everyone by totally shaking up the country’s political landscape. For the better as Quebec rejected its political history entirely and gave a remarkable gift to the rest of the country by voting in the New Democrats nearly every seat in province (reducing the Bloc Quebecois to just 4 seats as a result). The rest of the country, meanwhile, couldn’t quite join Quebec’s orange surge. Though the cores of urban areas went for Jack Layton’s NDP, most of the rest of the country thought with its pocketbook and gave the Canadian left its worst fucking nightmare: A Conservative majority.
I was watching at New Democrat headquarters in absolute horror as the Conservative numbers kept rising, the crowd booing with each step their tally took toward the majority-confirming 155 seats. It was bittersweet to witness this among the enthusiastic crowd of NDP supporters who additionally watched in pride as their party took a record breaking (by far) 102 seats, including nearly all of downtown Toronto. It was amazing to watch as my candidate, Andrew Cash, dominated in the Davenport riding that I had spent the day going door to door ensuring his supporters got out to vote. As it was to watch Jack Layton take the stage and calm the crowd with an inspiring speech ensuring our voices would still be heard. The people there cheering him on had worked very hard these past few weeks, riding off the energy Layton’s campaign had produced in making us all think it was possible to finally have a federal government that represented our morals, our beliefs, our futures…
But I couldn’t help but keep in mind that as nice as it is to know Layton will be in parliament with 101 of his friends supporting the Canadian left-centre, Harper and his cronies have TOTAL FUCKING CONTROL now. Total fucking control to take this country in frightening directions. Except only 40% of this country supports him. The other 60% of us fell prey to a flawed political system that needs to be reevaluated. Representation in the house is NOT proportionate. My riding, for example, has a population of 111,705, of which 53% voted NDP and only 12% voted Conservative. But the riding of Egmont, for example, in Prince Edward Island, has a population of just 35,208. They are sending a Conservative MP to Parliament, the same amount of representation I’ll have from my riding. In a perfect system, Davenport would be sending THREE MPs, not one. And they’d all be NDP. In the Elections Canada website – total votes for NDP, Liberal, Green and Bloc combined = 8,757,658, total votes for the Conservatives = 2,783,175. These are not numbers for a majority. We need some electoral reform, clearly… But since that’s not going to happen anytime soon, the NDP and Liberals need to merge if the left is ever going to win again. But that’s not even going to be a possibility for another 4 years.
So what happens now? I woke up yesterday with such intense hope and excitement for my country’s future. I woke up today uncomfortably pessimistic and fearing the worst.
I’m bracing for lax gun control, privatized health care, demolished arts funding, and a renewed debate surrounding reproductive rights and queer rights, and god knows what else. I’m bracing for 5 years of feeling like my country’s leadership doesn’t represent me or anyone I know and care about. I live in a bubble of extreme left-wing supporting Toronto core, which is comforting in a sense. But frustrating in how little power my city – and Canada’s other major urban areas – have. We have these ridings with massive populations that almost all elected NDP leaders, but our fair representation is not being considered. And what of Quebec? The beautiful, free-thinking Quebec that tried their best to save the rest of Canada from itself by voting for a federal party. I fear the drastic political opposition they have to who the rest of Canada has put in power will bring forth renewed separatist energy. And all I’ll be able to say to that is: Take me with you.