Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On Faith Restored

This will be a brief post, as there are likely far more interesting things to read from the professional pundits, but I would like to offer a few reflections on the implications of last night's election results.

The past ten years have seen some very dark times for Canadians. Probably one of the darkest for me was when Stephen Harper achieved a majority government in 2011, a feat that granted him tremendous power to attempt to remake Canada in his own corrupt image. I remember the despair I felt that sent me into a three-week depression. Even though a minority of the electorate had given him this power, my faith in my fellow Canadians was badly shaken. Last night, it was restored.

I have lived long enough to know, and recent history has certainly reminded us of, the inherent dangers of majority government. Yet I choose to see the Liberal victory not necessarily as an unqualified endorsement of Justin Trudeau and his colleagues, but as a sound, deep and decisive repudiation of the terrible things the Conservatives represent. In this, I know I am not offering an original insight, but the magnitude of that rejection is what has restored my faith in my fellow citizens.

When I attended Word on the Street recently, I asked Bob Rae whether he thought we had been too debased during the Harper to recover to the point where a healthy democracy was again possible. He dismissed that as a likelihood, and last night proved his point, one that I did not really share. Given the emphasis on chequebook issues, the elevation of the individual over the collective, and the pronounced cultivation of division that took place under the Harper yoke, to say that I was dubious would be an understatement. I'm glad I was wrong.

We don't yet know the percentage of Canadians who voted, but my guess is it was higher than 2011. My hope is that greater numbers of young people also became engaged during this long campaign, and that that engagement marks the beginning of a new generation participating in what is still a grand experiment in nation-building.

I also hope that the massive trust Canadians have placed in the Liberals will not be abused, but rather acknowledged, respected and nurtured. If we have leaned nothing else during this past decade, let us remember that the democracy we have so long taken for granted is indeed a fragile construct that can be greatly compromised by men and women of ill-will. Let us all hope they have been replaced by people of integrity and vision.

We shall see. May the healing begin.

UPDATE: The Star is reporting the following:
More than 68 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in Monday’s federal election – the highest turnout at the polls since 1993.

That’s a jump of more than 7 per cent from the 2011 election.

Preliminary Elections Canada figures state that 68.49 per cent of eligible voters – or 17,546,697 people - went to the polls on Monday for the Liberal Party’s majority win.

Just 61.1 per cent of registered voters cast ballots in 2011.
That is wonderful news!


  1. I agree Lorne. This election says something really important about the Canadian people. While the new government is a wait and see for many of us. Trudeau taking the Libs from the brink to a majority, is an amazing achievement.

    1. Cautious optimism about the future, I agree, is in order Pamela, but I have to say I feel better today than I have in a long, long time.

  2. When you experience change this seismic, Lorne, it can leave you a bit dazed as though the change, in all of its dimensions and ramifications, is too much to process.

    I'm very proud that both coasts held Harper at bay. Shut outs.

    1. It really is a lot to take in, isn't it, Mound? I'm just going to enjoy my new-found peace of mind for a few days, and hope it lasts! I've never felt more connected to and proud of our fellow Canadians.

  3. The rise in voter participation is really heartening, Lorne. We care about our country and we care about who we are.

    1. It is time for all of us to start feeling good about our country again, Owen. I know I do.