The rise of the Democratic People’s Republic of Alberta, a Green for Green Gables, and a Conservative Majority in Jolly old England—that’s the kind of week it’s been and politicians in Ottawa have taken notice.
On Tuesday morning, few people had observed that the PEI election had passed and brought a slightly diminished Liberal majority to the Island. As expected, the PCs remained the Island’s Official Opposition, but their newly minted leader failed to win his own seat. Aside from the decrease in popular vote for both the PCs and the Liberals, the only other notable element of the Election was that it was the first in which the Green Party won a seat on the Island, giving PEI a third party in the legislature for the first time since 2000. It is also the second provincial seat the Greens won in Atlantic Canada, having bypassed the provincial NDP in New Brunswick during last year’s election.
That the red sands of the Island remain red is hardly the biggest news story of the week—that belongs to the NDP win in Alberta. Yes, for those who’ve been living under a rock, the NDP won a sweeping majority government in Alberta bringing a 44-year PC rule to an end. Fear not, while Wednesday may have dawned orange, the world did not end. It shattered for a number of Conservative MPs, whose Wednesday caucus meeting was compared to a morgue, while Tom Mulcair and company sang across the hall. The Tories were sobered as a Social Democratic Party took power in Canada’s most Conservative province, and the NDP feels that this sweep means they can sweep the country.
If they could do it in Alberta, anything is possible. But was it really a New Democratic Party that was elected under Rachel Notley? Despite being connected to all its provincial counterparts and having taken an active role in the Ontario, New Brunswick, and PEI elections, the Federal NDP kept Alberta at arm’s length throughout this campaign. When outgoing Premier Jim Prentice accused Rachel Notely of taking cues from Mulcair, Notely dismissed the accusation, pointing out that she hadn’t talked to Mulcair in months.
Some think the Lady Notely doth protest too much when trying to distance herself from her counterparts in Ottawa. Or perhaps she hasn’t protested enough. Her campaign never touched upon climate change and, after her election, Notley refused to answer questions about pipelines or the Federal NDPs cap and trade system or elaborate upon any future relationship she saw with Tom Mulcair.
Vocal opposition to Energy East in Quebec could suggest problems for Mulcair in the future, even if they aren’t all that close. Notley has expressed support for Energy East, while Mr. Mulcair has had difficulty solidifying a position. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, a Quebec activist who has proven instrumental in the fall of governments and parties before in Quebec, insists that, notwithstanding the Orange Crush in Alberta, if Mulcair wants the Quebec Orange crush to be repeated this fall, he needs to oppose the pipeline and clarify their positions on energy.
Ah, the trials and tribulations of being a right wing politician trying to run a left wing party and pander to votes in two different areas of the country. It’s a balancing act few potential PMs have succeeded at before, and the NDP has never quite managed to do.
There was one more surprising election this week: the General Election in the UK. David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, is secure in his position as Prime Minister for at least another five years. He’s even more secure than he was last time as his party won a very slim Majority Government. The outcome is surprising considering the Opinion Polls suggested that Labour and Conservative would tie for seats, requiring weeks of meetings with Separatist, Sectarian, Radical-Right Wingers, and all the rest in an effort to cobble together a coalition government on the Island. Since 2010, the Conservatives have governed with the support of the Liberal-Democrats in the UK’s first coalition government since World War 2.
Despite capturing a quarter of the popular vote in 2010, support for the Liberal Democrats has fallen dramatically since then, leading to their worst showing since 1970 in terms of the popular vote. Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal-Democrats Nick Clegg resigned his post as Leader, as did Labour Leader Ed Milliband, whose party continues as the Official Opposition. Unlike Alberta’s ousted Premier Jim Prentice, neither of the British party leaders chose to resign their seats at the same time.
Since governments in Canada look to the UK as the mother parliament, it is understandable that the same electoral oddities, which exist here, occur there:
Despite only running in one region of the country and garnering 5% of the popular vote, the Scottish National Party (resurgent after the failed referendum) became the third largest party in the House of Commons with 56 seats. In Canada, with those numbers, they would have been the Official Opposition.
In contrast, the Liberal-Democrats won 8% of the vote but fell to 8 seats to become the 4th largest party.
The United Kingdom Independence Party obtained only 1 seat, yet won over 12% of the vote. Much like the Alberta PCs, they should have had more seats and a higher placement than they did.
Such is the First Past the Post system. David Cameron, like his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper, has no desire to orchestrate electoral reform when it benefits him. Nor do the provincial NDP in Alberta for that matter (despite proportional representation long being supported by the party).
Fear mongering over coalitions with separatist parties is something that Cameron seems to have borrowed from Harper. The UK Conservative’s warnings about a Labour-SNP coalition came in the same shades as the warnings Harper gave Canadians about a Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition several years ago.
That’s the kind of week it’s been! It should provide enough political fodder until October.