On May 2, over 61% of Canadians went to the polls and 40% of those delivered the Conservative Party of Canada a majority. I have to hand it to the Conservatives – they stayed on message, made fiscally-responsible promises, and managed to avoid any major gaffes (or regrettable wardrobe choices). The Liberals, on the other hand, imploded like a balloon in the freezer after failing to find a message – let alone a party leader – that connected with Canadians. The two biggest surprises of the night though were the magnitude of the NDP’s surge to become the Official Opposition and the near-obliteration of the Bloc Quebecois. Despite my dislike of the Conservatives, this is probably the first time in five years that I’m hopeful to see the maneuvering and mud-slinging of Canadian politics take a backseat to actual governing.
So here we go, four years of the big “C” conservatives. There is so much I disagree with in terms of how they’ve chosen to govern since they formed a minority government in 2006. I disagree with the policy to continue to cut corporate taxes and the taxes for those in the highest tax brackets. I disagree with the policy to stop funding daycare spaces. I disagree with abandoning the environmental commitments Canada had made and replacing them with targets that are downright embarrassing. I disagree with the planned purchase of fighter jets that the US Dept of Defense has said they don’t know the true cost of. I disagree with the policy of shutting media out and controlling the actions and communications of elected officials who are meant to represent constituents. I disagree with a commitment to transparency and accountability but appointing “watchdogs” who are ignored, withholding information from Canadians, and forgetting commitments like an elected senate while appointing party loyalists. I disagree with American-style attack ads. I disagree with acting like a victim of “socialists and separatists” after being found in contempt of Parliament. I disagree with candidates labeling ridings as “very ethnic” in the ignorant belief that ethnicities vote as a bloc. I disagree with the fear mongering that has been employed around terrorism, the economy, and crime in Canada.
And yet, despite all of these things I disagree with, I’m willing to keep an open mind and see how the next four years unfold. This is essentially an untested government which finds itself for the first time behind the wheel of a majority. Canadians will have a front-row seat as the Conservatives roll out their budget bill, crime omnibus bill, and any piece of legislation they see fit to pass through the House. But I wonder if that will be the case. Will we see a more moderate approach by a party that finds itself drifting towards center to hang onto its majority as the next election looms? Only the next four years will tell but I don’t think the Conservatives will be willing to throw away their majority with unpopular bills, especially those that adversely impact Canadians of all political stripes, not just the 60% that didn’t vote for them.