Conservative Prime Minister Harper, Opposition Leader Layton, Green Party MP May
Nobody expected this shocker of a result in the Canadian Election. Five weeks ago the pollsters and pundits predicted another Conservative minority government. Instead we wake up this morning to a Conservative majority. We witnessed the demolition of the Natural Governing Party of the last hundred years, the centrist Liberals, the almost complete elimination of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, and the election of New Democrat as leader of the Official Opposition. We also see the polarization and Americanization of the Canadian political scene. This does not bode well for environmentalists.
Elizabeth May of the Green Party finally gets a seat and a presence in Parliament. It is only one seat, but she is a strong voice. The rest of the Green party saw its vote significantly reduced in the squeeze, as the country divided into Conservative supporters and anybody-but-Harper opponents.
The NDP scored an historic victory by sweeping into second place; Jack Layton becomes leader of the opposition. The party had a strong environmental platform and Jack is a powerful speaker.
On a personal note, for the first time in my life, the candidate I voted for was elected as musician/journalist Andrew Cash captured a seat that had been Liberal for 49 years.
Stephen Harper got a majority government. There are no checks and balances in the Canadian system; with a majority, he rules. And he rules from the right, held in check by the minority for the last five years as Prime Minister.
Moreover, he has succeeded in demolishing the party of the centre, the Liberals. Chantal Hébert writes in the Star:
Canadians turned their backs on more than a century of centrist elite accommodation on Monday and selected a Parliament where the populist right and the populist left will be going head to head for the first time.
It the Americanization of Canadian politics as the nation is polarized between those who love Stephen Harper and those who loathe him.
image credit Greenpeace
Canada will have a made-in-Alberta energy and environmental policy. Environmental lawyer Dianne Saxe writes:
The major national and international environmental issue is climate change, widely described as Stephen Harper's least favourite topic, despite wilder weather and water stress. That thorn in the government side, the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, may now be repealed or gutted. Instead of a national cap and trade or carbon tax, we will likely see expensive hopes for ethanol and for carbon sequestration, and ever closer ties with the US. Like the US, we may see more cutbacks in resources for Environment Canada, but perhaps with the same or greater funding for clean and renewable energy options, as proposed both by Obama and by the NDP. We may also see more enforcement of environmental offences, as it fits well with the government's "tough on crime" agenda.
I am not so optimistic as Dianne. Stephen Harper can do what ever the hell he wants for the next four years, and I suspect that Canada is now open for business and up for sale, starting with oil and ending with water.