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Cheap beer and cheaper politics: election night at Reggie’s

by Archives October 21, 2008

“We’re pretty well all anti-Conservative.”
Concordia student Richard Muller speaks for his group of friends, but sums up the feeling of the crowd gathered at Reggie’s on election night. It echoes the voices of throngs of young Canadians seeing red because of the Harper government’s cuts in arts funding and perceived lack of concern for green issues.
Muller and a handful of other casual chic students sit around a table on an elevated section of the dimly lit student bar. A television set beams down from above their heads and shows the Conservatives’ growing margin of victory.
Across from Muller sits fellow student Rachel Tétrault. Leaning over the dozen beer bottles on the square table, she explains her support for the NDP. “I fundamentally agree with the party’s principles,” she says, using words more often heard in a political science class than at a bar on a Tuesday night.
Her sober words contrast with the smell of two-dollar beer being guzzled by the 75 or so in attendance. The bartenders keep busy as if it were Habs night. But the general feeling of the room tells a different story.
Harper, Dion and the gang are the ones trying to score. It’s a far cry from the excitement when Kovalev or Koivu do the same and the energy level at Reggie’s tonight reflects that.
“Jeanne-Le Ber!” yells out someone sitting at the bar, while results from the western Montreal riding flash on screen.
Other than rare bursts, the crowd of political junkies and just-here-for-a-good-timers remains calm. Maybe it’s the soothing tones of Peter Mansbridge’s voice booming over the loudspeakers; or maybe the number of dark blue ridings on the electoral map are the real downer.
“The arts cuts were pretty insulting,” says Muller, seemingly taking personal offence to the Tories’ choices on the chopping block. Tétrault agrees. “Real social programs are much better than getting a cheque marked ‘arts education’ or ‘childcare,'” she explains.
She’s suddenly snapped out of the political talk by a bartender asking “any empties?”
There are a few bottles to pick up, but no one at the bar is seemingly downing suds to celebrate the Conservative’s impending victory.
CBC projects a Conservative government. A soft but apparent sigh is heard in the room. Conversations among friends around the bar deepen.
At the table, Muller, Tétrault and friends are chatting about the country giving Stephen Harper a vote of confidence.
“I don’t think we’ll see much change in the government,” says Muller with a wince of despair. He adds that although he voted NDP, he wouldn’t want to see the New Democrats form the government.
“But it’s a voice that needs to be heard [in the House of Commons].”
No one around the table seems to think much will change in Canada with the election of a Conservative government.
“I don’t mind how they’ve handled the economy,” concedes Muller. He pauses for a few seconds and admits his belief another Conservative government might not be so bad after all.Hell, it might do some good.”

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