Campaign coverage is always fun. But the last week brought something truly unique: actual pleasure from a Canadian election.
That party was the NDP, which, after polling for years on the sidelines of Canadian politics, did something slightly unprecedented on 7 October: they went toe-to-toe with the governing Liberals on the polls, stole nearly all of the riding that Harper had picked and won 21 seats from Trudeau’s party.
And while it’s tempting to think of that success as some kind of improbable road block to the ascent of the Liberal dynasty that has ruled Canada for almost a century, it should be understood that it was part of an unusual pattern – across almost all of Canada, the NDP was the party that won the majority of seats, if not the majority of votes.
That party? The Green party.
The NDP: great news for the politics of hope | Adam Taylor Read more
Perhaps this is not so odd – Canada has never seen a winner like the Green party – but we usually do. It’s as if by nature the Canadian people prefer to reject the jiggery-pokery of a cabal or two and install in power big tent, all-inclusive parties. In 2015, this was Stephen Harper, a small-C conservative who thought the way to do politics was to annex more territory – oil-rich, yes, but eventually almost all of British Columbia as well.
This was a weak, hollow force, when it needed to be powerful.
And now it’s the NDP, a party seen as leftish in intention, lacking any appeal whatsoever to the centrist politicians that run Canada, its once loathsome but now it’s practically defunct Liberal party, but who does end up being in government.
This leaves a majority government that has no business being in power.
Is the Green party in Canada now the opposition we need? The party that makes anyone stop and think about whose opinions really matter?
The lovable naive, inclusive, kind of bearded people?
Or is it like the Greens in the US? You usually need a third party, a self-starting one, to stop big boys bullying an incremental process by big boys. In Canada, the Green party has finally started to exercise that power.
And now we can’t quite turn away from what that means for all of us. What power? Two weeks ago, Trudeau worried that if he didn’t hold on to power, the country would split into two.
And now, Trudeau just seems a little more human. Perhaps that’s because, as much as the Green party wanted him to work together to solve problems, Trudeau looked up to the urgings of the impassioned Green party, as much as his own dewy polling numbers. A deeply driven guy? No, maybe not, but a hopeful man? That’s so much more.
Suddenly, Justin Trudeau and the NDP are looking like they’re looking for common ground, rather than divisions. Trudeau has been keen to find common ground on issues like tackling climate change, which the NDP has been keen to support, even though it seems strange for a party that opposed a carbon tax on coal plants to adopt one.
And as a prime minister, having to find common ground seems familiar. Do you remember Brian Mulroney’s government?
This seems far more like a relationship than a partnership, and it may be good for the country.
Because, when Trudeau looks like he’s looking for a future, where he has found a future, the Liberals have figured out something: there is, quite possibly, a centre of Canadian politics where a politics of optimism can prevail.
It’s just taken a team of strategists to understand that, and it’s not this current one, but rather the next generation of strategists on the right that see the opportunity for the left.