Well, and so the Liberals finally have both their own Robert Stanfield and their own Kim Campbell in one person…but none of the people who voted for either of them, voted for him, and the result has Canada doing pretty poorly, after all the fuss dies down. As I write this it is just barely possible that Stephen Harper will not be able to quite gain his projected majority…but there’s no betting on that. Even I wouldn’t bet on that.
[EDIT: I woulda lost my shirt.]
I would certainly have bet on Elizabeth May being elected as a Green Party MP (hmm, and probably should have), since if you knew Saanich like I know Saanich, you had to know she was going to get in tight with those people. No better place for her. But to tell the truth I no longer feel like much of a betting man when it comes to elections here. The ruthless handicapping and carnival barking by TV talking heads makes it tough to watch anyone who isn’t Chantal Hebert, Allan Gregg, Craig Oliver or Rex Murphy — everybody has some weird axe to grind, some nose for news to stuff vacant theories up. Better, of course, that they should put the nose on the grindstone and chop the theories into kindling…but I don’t hold out much hope, I’ll tell you. Especially since they are already planning their bold and dramatic take on the next election…or, if they’re at the CBC, I guess they’re brushing up their resumes. But as always they get it all wrong from the beginning.
So here is what’s going to happen, if the politicians don’t make the horrid mistake of listening to what pundits say. The Liberal Party will be back, and it will be the most remarkable recovery from a galling defeat that anyone has ever made in Canadian politics. Of course as the pundits would be swift to point out (but they are not as swift as all that, so it took them a couple hours), the Tories got whittled down to two seats back when Chretien gave the big boot to the Mulroney Machine…and they came back, right? I mean, just look at ‘em now…!
But, this is incorrect. They didn’t come back. Instead, they were destroyed. Nowhere in the land will you find the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, because it simply doesn’t exist — all its eminent heads stormed out in a huff throwing curses behind them. Peter McKay gave them away to the Reform Party, and that was that. Well…that was almost that. Because I wouldn’t have bet very much on an unsuccessful Harper Conservative Party (and don’t make the mistake of believing that isn’t what it is) being able to fully digest the Big Blue money-printing apparatus it was permitted to swallow, if they hadn’t won this election the way they wanted to. Eventually some rich Ontarian cottage-owning alien would’ve burst from their still deep-down Western Separatist chest, and put all back to normal, if not exactly to rights…because (as I may have mentioned before) this absorption of small party by large party is what gets popular talking-points into faster circulation, in Canada, but to do it the large party has to actually absorb. Stephane Dion wanted to absorb the Green Party, and it was probably a brilliant idea, but in the end he couldn’t do it — he disappeared. And I still miss him, but maybe it was still better for me to suffer FIVE GODDAMN YEARS of Harper in minority, and unless something dramatic happens another FOUR HELLISH YEARS of him in majority, rather than have the Green Party not really exist as an independent entity by this time next decade. But on the other hand it is not all stinking roses, because this win tonight makes it a lot less likely that the real Tories — those bastards — will ever be able to come back to where they belong. Because if what you believe in is pretty much just “conservativeness by any definition and at any price” then a blue-bleeding Tory just isn’t what you are; rather, you’re a U.S. Republican. Donald Savoie (I believe I also mentioned recently) has floated the idea that there are no parties anymore, only leaders who inherit bumper stickers from other leaders, along with their old station wagons…Michael Ignatieff, bless his little heart and his great big Muppety head, certainly deserves my thanks by running as though his party was more important than he was, though if his supporters within his party had felt the same way it might’ve been Bob Rae in there instead of him, and might’ve been a win instead of a loss…but right now it’s an idea whose time has passed, for the moment. When the Liberal Party comes back, it’ll come back too, but for now it’s gone. A lot less gone than the old familiar Tories, but gone nonetheless. Boy, are those Tories ever gone! Still, here is the thing, and it’s about the exact opposite of the thing most pundits would have you believe: in Canada’s political landscape there’s always room for a Centre, because the centre is always the biggest part. Billionaires all over this land, from sea to sea to…okay, just from the one sea to the other, really, anyway all our very best billionaires want two big things over any number of smaller things: lower taxes and a two-party system. Well, but on the one hand taxes can only go down where the expenditures of individuals go up, because Canada needs money to pay for things (and I don’t know what our big billionaires need their money for, exactly, but I’d like to keep as much of mine as possible), and on the other it ought to be a maxim that extremes only suit extremists. And most of Canada needs what the billionaires want about as much as we need two extra holes in the head. As the electorate fills up from the bottom with younger voters, things are already changing, ridings voting differently, old stable patterns collapsing…it’s already happening, and it ain’t slowing down. Did I say this before too? The post-1980 political narrative is already deader than a doornail, but no one really gets it yet. Young voters don’t care about gay marriage, the climate change debate is over as far as they’re concerned, they don’t remember Rene Levesque or Lucien Bouchard, they’re not nostalgically ga-ga for Justin Trudeau just on the strength of his father’s name, they’ve never made a dime from trickle-down economics. Unemployment’s been pushing ten percent since they were born. Children of single-parent families, blended families, all types of familes that are not out of promotional stills from Leave It To Beaver or Tourism Alberta, or even the alarming, overwhelming whiteness of your average beer commercial (“young white people in Canada love the outdoors and maple-leaf kitsch and have money to burn!”), are not intrigued by get-out-of-guilt-free privatization mania, and for those of them interested in money there is always more down south than there is up here. But most importantly, they have not been raised in a two-party system, and consequently they don’t value it. It doesn’t do much for them.
Hey: it doesn’t do much for you and me, either.
Because this is a century of Difference, or it very well might be, and so whenever you see any “Unite The Right!” stuff or (shudder) “Unite The Left!” stuff, what you are seeing are the death-throes of the old political narrative. One last chance to get into that Fountain of Youth, and live forever…and it won’t work, because the past is the past, and we call it that because it’s the past. A two-party system? What the hell good would that do anybody? This isn’t the United States, where people come and go but Big Oil goes on forever! This isn’t the land of attractive politicians who are sane on the outside with a chewy core of nutcase on the inside, for heaven’s sake! No, we wear our bubblegum over our clothes here, like Superman. And in five years — sorry, damnit, four years! I keep forgetting! — in four years it won’t make any difference what the pundits are predicting tonight, because they are predicting all kinds of stuff that they think would be cool, and when you get right down to it they are the only ones who really care about that kind of future-cool stuff, where elections are like a really great episode of 24, or something. And the rest of us desire other sorts of things. It really is a shame about Ignatieff, I didn’t hate the guy, but he didn’t do anything in Opposition — but over a hundred seats for the NDP, you get the sense that’s the real shocker in the land of punditry. I mean, so shocking is it that they have not even managed, at least tonight, to articulate what it is exactly that makes it so shocking. “Canadians just felt like a change”?
No, that isn’t it. That’s never it.
Ignatieff is easy. “He just didn’t connect with Canadians, he’ll be gone by tomorrow morning”: the big media wheel spins on and on, never stopping, never resting, always looking for the next big story. Layton, on the other hand, is a tougher nut. Yes, he’s got all the charisma Ignatieff and Harper both lack (actually not all of it, since all the charisma those two don’t have is about enough to float an average-sized ark for forty days and nights), and yes he stole votes from Iggy while driving others to Steve-O…
But who among us can think, that that’s all that happened here?
Four fucking years. It is going to be tough, being stuck back here in 1984 for that long. I just thank God it’s too late for Harper to deregulate the banks or send us to Iraq, but don’t worry…he’ll find something. Don’t you worry.
But in 2015 it will be a completely different song that people are singing, and he won’t have heard it before. And then maybe all this will finally be over.
It’s gotta be over sometime, right?
Still, my party did get one in there. The party of Arts and Science, as I like to think of them.
How weird, it still seems to me, that there should be such a party as that…and weirder still that we should sort of need one.
Aw, screw it…I’m having a beer. Good night to Canada and Newfoundland and all the ships at sea.
Tomorrow there’s opera, and hockey.