Election presents new opportunities

Many Canadians have likely spent the time since the last election lamenting the Conservative victory. While a Conservative majority government is certainly a defeat for the majority of Canadians who did not vote for the party, the results of the election present an opportunity for great improvements in the Canadian political scene. It is the chance to achieve the sort of legislative progress that has been unseen since the Chrétien years.
One of the arguments against the Conservatives during the recent election was that they were not terribly effective in passing legislation during their previous two mandates. This charge was somewhat unfair, as the problems that those two governments experienced in passing legislation were the same as any minority government, regardless of affiliation. Now that the Conservatives have formed a majority government, they will most likely be able to achieve significant legislative progress, although many Canadians will probably not like the legislation that results from it.
Another fear regarding the Conservatives that was emphasized by the opposition parties was the specter of the Conservative party’s supposed American-style right-wing beliefs. Although there are certainly members of the Conservative Party who would feel more than at home among America’s right-wing Republicans, this charge is a little bit of a stretch.
Over the course of the two previous Conservative governments, institutions traditionally loathed by America’s right-wing such as socialized health-care, gay marriage, and abortion rights have remained virtually untouched, and there is no indication that this will change because the Conservatives now have a majority. The demands of running a government traditionally moderate the policies of any political party, especially in Canada, and the new Conservative government will be no different.
Aside from the Conservative majority, the other big story of the recent election was the surge in electoral support for the New Democrats, and the corresponding failure of the Liberal Party. For whatever reason, the NDP eclipsed the Liberals in voter support, becoming for the first time the official opposition.
While it is almost impossible to say what will happen in four or eight years’ time, it is quite possible that this shift will become permanent. Despite their many deficiencies, most notably almost totally ignoring the socialist and worker-oriented causes for which they were created, the NDP present a far more different alternative to Conservative rule than do the Liberals. The success of the New Democrats in the election, if it can be repeated in subsequent elections, seems likely to result in a situation where Canadians have more choice in terms of voting for a party that is likely to get elected into government or as the official opposition.
In a number of ways, the results of the recent election represent a chance for improvements in the Canadian political scene. Whether these improvements will result in better political parties and better governments remains to be seen.


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