A change in government, a change in direction
The federal election ended over a week ago, many have yet to decompress. The emotional high or the elevated stress may not have subsided for those who worked on any campaign. As the results finally revealed what government Canada would have, the next four years now has a clearly different direction. There were cheers, jeers and sadness for various political camps. Let's examine the aspects of the campaign now that it is over.
I have stated to many that I am a Liberal. To some it matters, to most they couldn't care less. I bring up this point because the label doesn't define my politics. During the municipal election many candidates from differing ideologies or associated political leanings worked well together. You'd hear about a 'liberal' campaign run by an 'ndper' with help from 'conservatives'. It was all based on supporting the person, not the party. When a candidate can gain support from across party lines, it shows their strength.
I supported Borys Wrzesnewskyj in my riding of Etobicoke Centre. I had met Borys on several occasions and volunteered when I could because I felt he was a good representative of our community. He took opportunities to discuss what needs to be fixed in Canada (First Nations living conditions, child poverty, lack of affordable housing) because he felt 'we can do better, we must do better'. His win of 52.77% of the vote and a nearly 10,000 vote difference over the CPC incumbent showed his support.
I was lucky enough to be in a riding with more than one good candidate. Not everyone I know voted Liberal in my riding. A friend supported another candidate and made some interesting arguments on their candidacy. He supported the NDP candidate Tanya De Mello. Although I had not met Tanya, I did get a chance to watch the Markland Wood debate where she performed well. Smart, articulate and overall a great candidate who I hope will remain politically active in our community.
There were many races across Toronto that had a similar issue, more than one good candidate. The battleground ridings tended to be races between the NDP and Liberals. I watched several races across Toronto that had people I respected on either side. Once friends/progressive allies were now 'enemies'. An election as long as we experienced will leave lasting effects on political relationships. The wounds may be deep for some and unforgivable for others. With a majority government in place for the next four years, will time heal these relationships?
The biggest fear I had during the election campaign was what would happen after the results. I had a sense several candidates who I met and supported might have a chance to knock off incumbents. My fear was the reaction of volunteers and partisans when their candidate either lost or won a riding. There is nothing worse than a sore loser besides an arrogant winner. Communities were not possibly losing just their MP, they were losing the staff that laid a foundation of contact with the federal government.
Although I didn't see much over-exuberance by the winning teams, the losses were emotional for many of the defeated MP's. With the Liberals taking all Toronto ridings, and most of the GTA ridings, it decimated many popular NDP MP's. I suspect several will return in the next election and their volunteers will be engaged locally to ensure their concerns are heard. I hope all MP's of all political stripes will attempt to listen to the point of view from any resident.
Some of the election results can be attributed to the candidate, some votes will likely be attributed to Justin Trudeau and the Liberal brand. Much like the municipal election, voters can cast their ballot for any reason they want. Another aspect in this election was the consideration of 'strategic voting'. The largest of those leading the charge of removing conservative candidates was LeadNow. Their support for NDP and Liberal candidates cannot be undermined and should be taken seriously. It will be an interesting foundation leading into the next election.
One other aspect to attribute voting rational: some voters just don't pay attention. With such a long campaign, I heard friends and family from all sides repeat talking points or commercial propaganda. They were going to support this party or leader but didn't know who their candidates were in their riding. Many didn't care about most policies except the few that directly impacted their lives. They saw their vote having power to support a beneficial policy. It makes complete sense. To many who are engulfed in politics on multiple levels, they cannot understand reasoning that may not have any basis. Those politically engaged must also realize that the majority don't seem to pay attention or even care due to their struggles in their immediate daily life. Voting isn't based on engagement or understanding; it is based on citizenship and residency. A candidate you supported won or lost because of the non-partisan, non-engaged voter. That's reality, no matter how much it hurts.
An important discussion after the election: no person 100% supports everything their party says/does. During the beginning of the year at several events, many Liberal supporters were furious on C-51 and several candidate nominations. Hearing lifelong supporters question the intent was refreshing since it showed an engaged base not ready to rubber stamp important decisions. Not every policy was popular nor was the nomination of some candidates. This was likely the case for all parties and all across Canada. Sometimes it seems getting elected is more important than why people should vote for a candidate/party.
I did not criticize several Liberal decisions during the election openly because it would undermine the campaign and could be used by opponents as fodder. When given the opportunity, I would speak to candidates or volunteers who felt the same way. We'd have internal discussions on what could be changed during/after the election. Like I stated at the beginning, my politics are not defined by a label. I consider myself a left-leaning Liberal while many friends are right-leaning. I was glad to see the Liberal platform and policies that addressed very serious concerns. Affordable housing, transit, infrastructure, youth employment and of course dignity and respect for seniors and veterans. The race to the lowest taxes while neglecting governmental duties lasted too long. The next four years will help determine the next several decades of social programs. There is no room for error, no valid reason to not implement the election platform presented to Canadians.
What will the next government look like? We will wait and see. First is building a cabinet that is inclusive to all regions, genders and races. The platform was based on #RealChange - now the hard work begins to prove it.