In Canada. I am conveying this to you as the UK wakes up, and Canada (where I currently am) is going to sleep, or over in Toronto and Ottawa, after a challenging and energetic election, where most people already are asleep.
The Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper had a total of $19,999,230.62 in order to win re-election from the 33 million people of this vast country, a budget slightly smaller than the parties two main rivals – the Liberals and National Democrat Party (NDP). Canada has 308 seats in its House of Commons, and the Conservatives won 143. Not a majority, for which they would need 155, but certainly an improvement on their previous minority of 127 seats. The Liberals, lead by the French-Canadian, Stephen Dion, only won 77, down from 95. They were the leading party of Canada, until ousted in 2006 during a time of scandal. The people clearly don’t seem to be able to trust them, especially now in this time of economic difficulty.
Bloc Quebecois (a party which only fields candidates in the still fiercely independent Province of Quebec) appeared likely to get 49 seats, the NDP 37 and independent candidates 2.
According to Fred Langan in Toronto, a Daily Telegraph correspondent, the ‘Conservatives feel they will be able to act as if they are majority, since none of the opposition parties will defeat the government and bring on another election.’ It is also unlikely that the Canadian commitment in Afghanistan alongside it’s NATO allies will change due to this election.
For the economy the Conservatives being in power is definitely seen to be good news. The election campaigns seemed focused around “the kitchen table” and the way families will have to cope in the new economic climate, and clearly families and voters put their trust back in Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, and the budget surplus he stressed (created largely by the oil fields of Alberta, the largely Conservative Province Harper comes from) Canada is riding on. Although Canada’s growth rates are not as impressive as the UK, it should be noted, being that they are only 1.25% according to the OECD, compared to Britain’s 2.3%.
The environmental lobbies will see this as less welcome news, since a Carbon Tax being successfully deployed in British Columbia (the Province next to Alberta, containing the City of Vancouver, where the election trails ended, four time zones from the capital, in some of the most hotly contested electoral ridings) will probably not be rolled out to the rest of the country, due to the Conservative’s opposition to it in the election campaign.
For Stephan Dion, the french speaking Liberal Candidate, this is even more of a disaster. This is the lowest percentage of the vote his party has ever won, which was the incumbent party for many years, and therefore his leadership is likely to be challenged in the coming weeks. There was a lot of childish mud-slinging in the election, especially from the Liberals (though the Conservatives, NDP and Green Party weren’t much better), and clearly it didn’t prove effective for the once powerful party. North American elections make those in Europe look like the model of decorum and intellect. Though, with the exception of Sarah Palin, I would have to say the the US campaigns are conducted with much more grace and skill than the Canadian campaigns. It helps that they have much more money and man-power.
Let’s hope this bodes well for the UK. The first G7 country to go to the polls since the start of the financial downturn, and they turn (or rather, remain, but increase) Conservative.
By Dominic Tarn.