The overview that rings truest, to me, is Colby Cosh’s Four parties enter, two parties leave. Canadian politics is usually boring; but not this week.
Anyhow, I wrote this because I wanted space for an observation and a prediction. First: Canadian politics suddenly looks a lot like Britain or Germany: Big, broadly-based parties of the left and right, with a smaller party of the center. Seems to be reasonably stable and functional in those countries.
Second: It’s going to be awfully hard to bring back the Liberal party. They’ve never, in my lifetime, really stood for much aside from occupying the squishy center, knowing how to handle the levers of power, and being a good way to have a career in politics.
There was actually nothing terrible about this, because the broad center of Canadian politics seems, judging by the results, a substrate for a fairly sensible policy mix. But I think that when you’re trying to come out of the wilderness, and you no longer represent a safe career choice, you probably need to stand for something. I can imagine a scenario where you get a really charismatic Liberal leader combined with a particularly stinky episode of scandal or disillusionment with either the Tories or NDP. But all the pieces would have to fall into place just right.
A lot of people I know are pretty shattered by the Tory majority, assuming that Mr. Harper will yank the steering wheel hard to the right and try to steer in the same sort of direction the 2nd President Bush was aiming. I’m not sure why, but I’m less worried. To start with, he can’t count on this kind of vote-splitting in future elections.
And he may well be smart enough to see that Canadians really are conservative; in the sense that they’re reasonably satisfied with the way things work here, and unwelcoming toward anything that smells radical.