Gilles Duceppe shares common values with the rest of the country on social concerns.
It's hard to be upbeat right now since the overwhelming first-past-the-post message of the election is a strengthened Harper minority. But given the array of forces aligned on his side, the Conservatives actually did relatively poorly. Harper had all the ingredients for a perfect Tory storm.
We had the lowest voter turnout in history (which always favours the incumbents), an unprecedented destabilizing economic crisis (which favours the safe haven of the known), no real opponents in the race (Jack Layton's spin notwithstanding) and a giant corporate media conglomerate onside (CTVglobemedia) that showed its hand publicly when it actually went so far as to intervene in the election on Harper's behalf (the outrageously unethical tape release).
But Canadians have failed to stand up and deliver.
My Canada includes Quebec - something for which I am thankful every day, but at no time more than today, when Quebeckers have literally saved the country as a whole. While the hype played on about the Bloc being a party that has lost its raison d'être with the demise of a separatist agenda, Gilles Duceppe has shown that the Bloc holds a new place that defends the cultural identity and best interests of this beloved province at the same time that it resonates with those who are like-minded in the rest of Canada.
This idea of a new connection between the Bloc and other progressive parties in the rest of Canada is one of the most hopeful possibilities to emerge out of this election.
Quebeckers and urbanites unite. Cities from St. John's to Victoria also tended to stand up to the Tory tide, most notably in our own fair province, with Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener, Windsor, London, Ottawa, Kingston, Sudbury, Sault St. Marie, Timmins and Thunder Bay all resisting the blue tide to some degree. Of course, our Toronto deserves a special nod for really holding back the blue line. Yay us!
On the subject of cities, my Canada does not include Alberta or Saskatchewan. (Just kidding.)
But outside of the Bloc, all the parties were losers. The Liberal bloodbath is obvious. It is great that the NDP picked up extra seats, but the party failed to increase its popular vote, making Layton's bluster about running for prime minister just embarrassing to anyone but those passionately inside the party fold already.
The Greens did well, increasing their support to almost 7 per cent but failing to reach the 10 or more per cent some had predicted. Too bad we will lose Elizabeth May's refreshing voice in national affairs now that the election is over and she has no seat.
Photo By Sean Kilpatrick/ CP Photo
Stéphane Dion and and other leaders need to know electoral reform is the sleeper issue.
It's especially egregious since, as Fair Vote Canada points out, the 940,000 votes cast for the Green party sent no one to Parliament, while 813,000 Conservative voters in Alberta alone were able to elect 27 MPs.
The need for electoral reform and cross-party collaboration may well become the sleeper issues of this election. A vibrant and innovative movement sprang up across the country aimed at doing the impossible, given our electoral system and the mood of the times. Defeating the Tories was sadly not in the cards.
Next week, with time to analyze the results, I will report on how the movement for strategic voting to dump Harper actually fared across the country. But on a larger scale, the truth is that collectively we have stopped a Tory majority.
And the majority of Canadians are interested in programs and policies that we will not be seeing from Harper. In the next few months, cooperation between the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc could promote some of these policies and programs that the majority have supported.
And should they hammer out a coalition platform based on the many planks they agree on, from arts and culture to climate change, they have the opportunity, after a non-confidence motion, to offer themselves as an alternative government to the governor general.
Thankfully, a new grassroots movement has started laying the foundation for this unprecedented path. It is still a long shot, but this movement has tremendous energy and, now that we aren't competing for votes in an election, a tremendous opportunity to reach out and gather in those from all four opposition parties. We are entering an extremely unpredictable and volatile era. It is no time to give up. We may yet make our dreams for Canada come true.