Last night, Canada tossed out its anti-climate, pro-business-owner Conservative party and elected the Liberals in a landslide. The Liberal party won an outright majority of 184 seats to the Conservatives' 99 (out of 338). Stephen Harper is stepping down, which Canada's system requires in order for Justin Trudeau to be elected Prime Minister by the next Parliament, which should resume November 9th.
The left-leaning Toronto Star is overjoyed:
Cheers broke out across the land as Canadian voters chased Stephen Harper’s arrogant Conservatives from office on Monday night, in a richly deserved rebuke after years of corrosive misgovernance.
Thus ends a dismal, divisive era in our political history.
Trudeau’s compelling vision of a Canada that is “open and confident and hopeful” caught the spirit of voters who believe this country can be more generous, more ambitious and more successful. Millions were repelled by Conservative efforts to scare people into voting for the status quo. And Trudeau’s call to “come together as a country” proved to be a stronger motivator than the Tories’ divisive tactics.
The largest newspaper chain in Canada, Postmedia, naturally endorsed Harper, and has had little to say about the election results. Most papers in the chain have published a glowing review of his administration that leaves out the bits about Rob Ford and climate-change denialism. (Harper is, after all, from Calgary.)
Of note, too, is the New Republic's view from before the election that U.S. Republicans should take note of their Canadian counterparts' mishandling of immigration:
[T]he Harper government has endangered its success in minority outreach by openly running a xenophobic campaign, making a special effort to stir up anxiety about Muslim immigrants. Along with the separatist Bloc Quebecois, the CPC has made an issue of the niqab, the face-covering clothing worn by some Muslim women. Going against court rulings on religious freedom, Harper has insisted that women take off the niqab during citizenship oaths. His party has also floated the idea that the niqab not be allowed in the civil service. On the issue of Syrian refugees, Harper has played up fears that some might be terrorists and used his powers as PM to admit Christian refugees while blocking Muslim ones. Finally, Harper promised to create a “barbaric cultural practices hotline” where Canadians could inform on neighbors adhering to supposedly uncivilized cultural traditions.
In truth, both Harper and Ford show the limits of conservative outreach to immigrant groups and people of color. While it’s true that the two politicians have been more successful in minority outreach than the Republican Party has been, this outreach has been built on fostering other lines of social division, whether against Muslim-Canadians or LGBT communities. Getting some immigrants and non-whites to vote for you by choosing a new scapegoat hardly seems like a promising basis for politics.
The longer term danger for the CPC is that the Canadian-born children of immigrants tend to be much less socially conservative, which means the basis for the outreach could have a one-generation shelf-life. In fact, the success of this Islamophobia-plus-homophobia strategy might even expire on Monday....
Yes, it might.
Congratulations to the Liberal Party, and to Justin Trudeau.