History was made Monday night. Of course that would be true no matter the results of the Canadian federal election. Returns are still coming in as I write this, so I am not going to mention final numbers.
I mentioned to friends early in the campaign, it felt to me a lot like 1972. Back then a Prime Minister named Trudeau, elected with a huge majority four years before, barely managed to hold on to government. Indeed, on election night Robert Stanfield’s Progressive Conservatives were ahead in more seats, though that number changed with recounts.
The end result that a wildly popular Prime Minister was reduced to a minority after four years in power. Feels like it was 2019.
The last time a government elected with a majority in its first term was defeated was 1935, the depths of the Great Depression. That wasn’t likely to happen this time around, no matter the ethical lapses of the Prime Minister.
As R.B. Bennett really couldn’t be blamed for the Depression, I don’t think Justin Trudeau, who thinks budgets balance themselves, can take credit for Canada’s booming economy (or really be blamed for the recession experts see coming).
For me the exciting part of the vote was seeing how my friends were doing, as I know several MPs and others who want to be MPs. Some were running in places they had no chance of winning. Others were running where they had a good shot at victory. And of course I expected the incumbents to be returned. That wasn’t always the case.
For Canadians, digesting the results will take a while. There were promises made by the victors – will they be kept? History shows that will have mixed results.
Still, today there is optimism for those who supported the winners. There is the excitement of knowing their cause has prevailed. For those on the losing side, there is the hope this government won’t be as bad as they fear.
For those holding the balance of power in a minority parliament, this is as good as it gets. The tail can wag the dog if the dog wants to stay in power. My guess is that will mean increased government spending, increased deficits and an ever greater national debt that my great-grandchildren will still be paying off.
There were surprises in some of the results Monday. Some good MPs lost the confidence of the voters. That happens sometimes. They will be missed.
I have a lot to say about the campaign and the results – but that will have to wait at least a few days. Probably better to have some time for reflection rather than giving you what first comes to mind.
One thing that does seem evident to me though. It was a sad campaign in which the party leaders for the most part did not inspire. Canadians, in how they cast their votes, rewarded mediocrity.
With a minority parliament the odds are that Canadians will be going to the polls again sometime between 18 and 24 months from now.
Maybe the next time we will see politicians coming to the people with integrity and ideas and a commitment to walk their talk. Is that a reality? Or am I dreaming?