I was too cynical about the NDP and Liberal chances here in B.C. I forgot that we left coasters are completely, amazingly insane, and will buck any trend we see coming. Tory government? Let's elect fewer of them. I would have been happy with 24 or 25 NDP members, I was pretty shocked to see them with 29.
I completely missed the Quebec breakthrough by the Tories. I figured they would simply get an increased vote count in safe Bloc seats.
Now, on to the MPs who will bear close watching in the next few months.
The last independent member was Chuck Cadman, from Surrey. He started as a member of the Reform/Alliance, then was bumped during a nomination battle in his own riding. He ran anyway and won on his immense personal popularity. While he was a bit hawkish on crime for me (no surprise, he got into politics because of his son's murder) he was well respected across the political spectrum. He had a reputation very much as an ordinary guy, very approachable to every one of his constituents. He sadly died of cancer.
Now, we have Andre Arthur, the newest independent. From a riding outside Quebec City, he's an ex-shock jock with a penchant for making racist comments. From CBC.ca:
Arthur, 62, had an outspoken style that spawned many lawsuits, including legal actions launched by former Quebec premiers Lucien Bouchard and Daniel Johnson. His mainstream radio career ended just before Christmas, when his employer did not renew his contract.
He once said that African students at Laval University were the children of dictators and cannibals. That remark was one reason why the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decided to strip Quebec City radio station CHOI-FM of its licence in 2004.
I'm assuming he won based on a two-pronged strategy. First, scoop up the protest votes of disatisfied Tories and Liberals who just want to punish Ottawa but aren't happy with the Bloc. Second, he captured the under-utilized fuckwit vote. Your basic Canadian fuckwit likes racist jokes, porn, oversized trucks and the company of his fellow asshats. He doesn't usually come out to vote at all, and sees electing his morning drive hero as a knee-slapping joke. "King" Arthur is likely to make news, but no serious policy.
Dr. Keith Martin won again in his Vancouver Island riding. He's an interesting case: a Liberal who defected from the Alliance caucus and sat as an independent for a while. There are several ex-Progressive Conservatives in the Liberal tent (Scott Brison, Belinda Stronach) but few former Reformers.
Martin might be the closest thing to a libertarian, of the right-leaning variety, in the House of Commons right now. A medical doctor, he has called for private health care, but he clashed with his former Reform colleagues over euthanasia and abortion. He might prove an asset to NDP-sponsored civil rights issues, but will likely be able to speak out more strongly for his free-market values as an opposition member than he ever was as a Liberal.
Whether he is a classical, Lockean liberal, a near-libertarian or a vulgar libertarian remains to be seen. As any of those, he might prove a spoiler in the upcoming Liberal Party leadership race.
The Sock Puppet
Nina Grewal just squeeked back in to her Surrey riding. Her husband Gurmant, of course, wasn't running after his bizarre behaviour after he taped Liberal MPs allegedly offering him incentives to cross the floor. Both during and after that fiasco, Nina Grewal had very little to say. The fact that she is likely still being run by remote control by Gurmant didn't quite disuade voters. While she might melt down spectacularly, I really expect her to just fade away as an MP. Worth watching, to see if we can spot the strings.
The Wicked Witch
Belinda Stronach won, amazingly, after defecting the Libs from the new Conservative Party she helped bring into being. She'll never lead the Liberals, but with her experience at backroom leadership deals, she'll be a factor in the leadership contest. She seems like a classic "The Economist" type: socially liberal as much out of disinterest as anything, fiscally conservative but a believer in firm government. Probably should have been a Liberal all along.
The Tories will never forgive her for crossing the floor. I was at a Tory candidate's campaign office as the results came in (I was working), and she was booed every time her face appeared on the TV. She'll be a constant target even now that they've won.
The Power Couple
Jack Layton and Olivia Chow are finally together - and he displayed some genuine emotion in a morning press conference when he talked about how happy he was that they'll be together in Ottawa this time.
I dislike couples who run in seperate ridings (see above, re: Grewals), because one of them is by definition a parachute candidate. I also have some fears about Layton trying to drag the NDP too far from its populist-labour roots into some kind of Tony Blairish Third Way nonsense. Those worries have been assuaged by his last term. He seems to be trying to desperately merge the rural populist and urban social-rights elements of his party together into a workable whole. The populists are generally pro-gun (Layton astutely stayed away from the Liberals' gun policy during the election), believe in cooperativism, the social gospel and are skeptical of big business. In B.C. and Ontario, there's a strong labour element as well. They want the government to provide an insurance policy for tough times through health care, EI and social programs. The urban contingent includes a lot more environmentalists, gays and lesbians, students, teachers and civil libertarians. They are suspicious of big business too, but are a lot more comfortable with big government.
Layton has to deal with a caucus that is almost evenly split between those two factions.
With Chow, he'll have disproportionate influence with his own caucus to put whatever policies he has onto their agenda. If his fusion is successful, and not just a watering down of both sides, it could bring a new element into parliament.
My hope is that the urban-rural NDP combination might really come together, as something with a libertarian socialist tinge. Probably not, but you never know.
Addendum I forgot about The Warmonger, but Larry Gambone at the Porcupine Blog has nicely taken him apart.
Perhaps even worse than Harper’s partial victory, is Michael Ignatiev’s victory as a Liberal candidate. This member of the US War Party is being touted as a possible future Liberal leader. It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. The Neocons are attempting to capture both parties for their war plans and reproduce as closely as possible in Canada the situation in the US - two parties with identical viewpoints except for minor shadings and all other views marginalized. Here is where the anti-war movement can have a political impact and derail these fiendish plans. The Ig should not be able to make a public appearance without being surrounded by demonstrators who denounce him as a Gringo stooge and warmonger. Make him a political liability, rather than a (pseudo) intellectual asset.