Poll Position

My first reaction to the night’s results:

Make shock jock André Arthur the Speaker of the House! Make André Arthur Speaker of the House! C’mon!!!

No? Oh, well. Go with Peter Milliken, again.

Manning a polling booth for twelve hours can be summed up as bursts of activity mingled with long stretches of boredom. And it’s a long day. I was on duty from 8:45 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. But I think it was worth it.

I calculated that my polling station had a roughly 66% turnout this election, higher than the national average in 2004. Lots of people came out, and voters seemed to take their choice seriously. It was a dogfight in my poll. The incumbent, Liberal Karen Redman, got the most votes, but she was one ahead of the second place candidate, Conservative Stephen Cage, and eight ahead of NDPer Richard Walsh-Bowers. There were only two spoiled ballots (including one crudely drawn representation of a middle finger). Not bad when 179 people showed up to vote. People, in general, seemed to take this vote more seriously than the one in 2004. Maybe they realized that, now more than ever, their vote counted.

I hope to have the results of the second Bow. James Bow election poll on Wednesday. It may take me a fair chunk of today to put everything together. So pay attention to this page.

My thoughts on the election: it was largely what I was hoping for. It was a change of government, but it wasn’t a majority. It gave the NDP something close to the balance of power, and it leaves open the possibility of a Conservative-NDP informal coalition. I don’t think the Liberals received as much of a spanking as they deserved, but the verdict of the electorate should be quite clear to even the most partisan Liberals. The party needs to spend some time in deep introspection. Paul Martin needs to resign and a wide-open leadership convention needs to take place. Will this happen? Time will tell.

Other reactions on the night:

  • Hated the CBC’s setup. Too much wasted space, and the results were very hard to read.

  • Biggest Surprise: The Conservatives ten seats in Quebec. Who’d have thunk it!

  • Biggest Loser: Gilles Duceppe. Three seats lost. Popular support back to 40%. A new threat on the horizon. Considering where he was when this election began, this ranks second to the above biggest surprise. Maybe the Bloc won’t be so eager to trigger an election next time around…

  • Third Biggest Surprise: Paul Martin is not the Biggest Loser.

  • Biggest Disappointment: Even though Olivia Chow gets a much-deserved victory, Tony Iannno makes it a fight in Trinity Spadina. One should look for a copy of the Necronomicon in his cellar. That’s about the only thing I can think of which explains his enduring popularity in this riding.

  • Second Biggest Disappointment: Flaherty wins. Pompous anti-urban blowhard.

  • Biggest Disappointment for Conservatives: Ottawa Centre remains with the NDP.

  • Biggest Disappointment for the NDP: Oshawa remains with the Conservatives.

  • Second Biggest Disappointment for the Conservatives: Belinda’s back!

  • Big Joy: NDP wins in London Fanshawe, the old riding of same-sex Liberal turncoat Pat O’Brien. Take that Pat!

  • New record: The Conservatives have broken the previous record of infamy for being the least popular party to receive the most votes in an election: 36.3% being slightly lower than the 36.7% set by Paul Martin’s Liberals in 2004 (though still higher than the 35+% picked up by Joe Clark’s short-lived minority). Also interesting to note that the Conservatives STILL haven’t equalled the vote totals achieved when the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives were separate parties.

  • Turnout Turnaround: Unofficially placed at 64%, a big jump from 2004’s 58%, and in line with my experience.

  • Green Gains: At 4.5%, they not only get to keep their funding, but I think they increased their popular vote. They placed third in Bruce County behind the Liberals.

  • No Joy in Warrenville: Telegdi walks away with Kitchener-Waterloo, again. Remember what I said about Tony Ianno and the Necronomicon? Maybe it’s a Liberal bestseller…

  • Newly Elected Conservative Cabinet Candidates: Garth Turner. Tony Clement and (ugh!) Jim Flaherty.

  • Decent Conservative Cabinet Candidates: Chuck Strahl.

  • Grin-and-bear-it Conservative Cabinet Candidates: Stockwell Day.

  • On Paul Martin’s Concession Speech: Will he try to hang on? I don’t think he’d announce his resignation on election night. That’s a feat that’s generally reserved for leaders who have lost their own seats as well as the election (c.f. Grossman, Larry and Petersen, David). Good reaction from the party faithful to Martin’s announcement that he congratulates Stephen Harper on his victory. No boos.

  • “I will continue to represent the people of Lesalle Emard” — Ooo! Ooo! Code words!

  • “I will not lead this party into the next election!” Here it goes! He did it! He’s resigning! The only question is when!

  • Martin’s final speech was classy. Farewell, Martin. I may believe that you were one of the weakest prime ministers in recent memory, but listening to you, it’s clear that you are putting the interest of the party first, and you are now at peace with your legacy. In a small way, I envy you.

  • Layton’s Speech: Classy nods to Martin and Duceppe. Shame about the boos regarding Prime Minister Harper, but Layton handled it well.

  • Your Freudian Slip is Showing: Peter Mansbridge: “Stephen Clark will be the fifth youngest prime minister in Canadian history — Stephen Harper, sorry.”

  • Liberal Leadership Candidates to Watch in Caucus: Stephan Dion, Michael Ignatieff, Scott Brison

  • LIberal Leadership Candidates to Watch out of Caucus: John Manley, Frank McKenna. Brian Tobin?

  • Caretaker Liberal Leadership Candidate: If Paul Martin resigns sooner rather than later, the party should consider installing an interim leader until the leadership campaign in the summer; someone quietly capable to handle question period, who isn’t in the running for the leadership, isn’t deeply involved in the Martin-Chretien civil war, isn’t mired in scandal, and is already a member of the caucus. Earlier we talked about Ralph Goodale as one who could fit the bill, and then the Income Trust scandal happened. Then Dan and I thought that Landslide Annie could hack it, but he didn’t keep her Alberta riding. So, who’s next?

  • My suggestion? Karen Redman, MP for Kitchener Centre. She fits the bill. She’s quietly capable, untouched by the civil war, untouched by scandal, and would be somebody unexpected to hold the position of Leader of the Opposition until the Liberals have that cathartic leadership campaign. How about it, guys?

  • So, Mr. Currie, who predicted that the Conservatives would win… somewhat less than 70 seats this election. I like Waterloo Dark or Rickard’s Red for my beer. Seriously, though: as predictions go, you had the gumption to go out on a limb, and stand on it, even as it became obvious that the limb was being sawed off the tree. And I can understand your reasoning behind the prediction, and I hope that your vision for the Conservative party comes true. But don’t ever let it be said that Ontario voters are stupid. Thank you.

Notice that the numbers are very tight. Everybody is on a short leash. Canadians, once again, told their parliamentarians that they expect multipartisanship and negotiations. Now it’s up to the MPs, and a new government.

Congratulations, Mr. Harper. The hall is rented. The orchestra engaged. Now’s the time to see if you can dance!

…Probably shouldn’t watch TNG reruns immediately before election day.

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