The good news — as the late Gerald Ford so aptly put it in a different context after then U.S.-president Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974 — is that “our long national nightmare is over.” Or, to borrow a more triumphant, if cheekier chant from some social media commentators last week: “Dong Dong! The witch is dead!”
The bad news…
Well, with such delightful electoral results last week, who really wanted to contemplate the uh-oh that came with the thank-God of showing Stephen Harper the prime ministerial don’t-let-it-hit-you-on-the-way-out exit?
In 2011, Stephen Harper took the popular vote endorsement of just 40 per cent of us and used the parliamentary majority our skewed first-past-the-post system handed him to dismantle much of what we are as a country. He employed the clout of his acquiescent Harper majority to reshape us into his own mean-spirited, politics-over-policy, ideology-over-science, jails-over-justice, passion-over-compassion, neo-conservative self image.
It will take more than one electoral mandate to unravel the damage done.
But in our understandable rush to bid good riddance to Harper, we have, in some ways, created his mirror image: a crushing Trudeau majority of 184 seats, based on less than 40 per cent of the popular vote.
I know, I know. Justin Trudeau isn’t Stephen Harper. And since the Liberal platform wasn’t so dissimilar to the NDP or Greens, one could argue the new government’s general thrust has the support of close to 63 per cent of the electorate.
Perhaps more importantly, the Liberals themselves have pledged to introduce electoral reform legislation within 18 months.
But it’s worth remembering the first piece of legislation Canada’s least accountable, least transparent government introduced was its so-called Public Accountability Act.
The devil will be in the details. And the details will be devilish.
All of us will have our political priorities for the new government — un-muzzling scientists, restoring funding for the CBC, leveling our taxation playing field — but if there is one thing we should all demand immediately, it is that the Liberals follow through, in a meaningful way, on their promise to change the way we do democracy.
No more 40 per-cent majority national nightmares.
Now that would be good news.
- If the 2015 election had been held using province-by-province proportional representation, the Liberal sweep of all 11 seats would have been transformed into:
- 7 Liberals
- 2 Conservatives
- 2 NDP.
- That means some popular veteran Nova Scotia MPs like Peter Stoffer or Megan Leslie might have survived an otherwise Liberal sweep…
- For more about various potential outcomes and various electoral schemes, check out Wilf Day’s blog.
- The National Post shows what Parliament could have looked like if we had operated under proportional representation in 2015.