Justin Trudeau and the Liberals won a majority government in the election a week ago. They dethroned the incumbent Conservatives by winning most of Eastern Canada, and are now poised to lead the nation after almost ten years.
I’m from Calgary, so it should come as no surprise that I voted for Harper and the Conservatives. I may not agree with all their principles, but my family would stand to benefit the most if the Conservatives were in power. I know I shouldn’t let that determine who I vote for, and I should instead vote for who I believe will do the best…but I don’t think I’m at a stage in life yet where if a different party was in power, I would do better. Let me put it this way, all my tuition is paid by money that’s made in Alberta. Stands to reason that I should vote for the party that benefits Alberta the most.
Unfortunately, most of the country didn’t agree with me. Harper had been in power for almost a decade, and when any leader is in charge for that long, people are bound to grow tired and wish to see change. Whether or not the change is necessary, however, is up to question. It’s true that people wanted to see someone else in power, but to me it seems like they wanted that for only the sake of having a different leader. As one friend articulated to me, we heard and saw five times more hate against Harper than we did support for other candidates. This was very much an anti-Harper election. But why?
He was in power for ten years, and despite what people say, it was by no accident – he was consistently voted in over the last decade. And with good reason – he was clearly a well educated and competent MP. With a degree in economics and a cool, albeit unrelatable, persona, Canada turned to him to restore the economy after the recession in 2008. And by all standards, he did well. Canada fared much better than other nations during that recession, thanks largely in part due to the role Harper and the Conservatives played to prevent the economy from further descending into chaos. Several nations turned to Canada’s implementation of the role of the central bank and regulatory measures after the recession having seen how well Canada did throughout the recession relative to other nations. It is even more impressive when you consider how much damage it did to the States, with America of course being the largest
When you look at the last decade, the international economy has been dominated by recessions and been an overall rough period. The Canadian dollar is doing really poorly right now, but for the most part, Canada has had one of the more stable economies the past decade in the world, and even seen growth where others countries have failed. The Conservatives oversaw a period of economic growth, with an increase in created jobs. It was certainly not an easy feat given the period in which it occured. The consensus is that Harper undoubtedly did a fine job.
Why, then, was he voted out with such malice?
He made mistakes. In my opinion, they weren’t important enough to vote him out of office, but that’s subjective. His more unpopular stances became big enough issues that people were willing to act on them. And his persona, which was never relatable to begin with, became even more evidently so when compared to the younger image portrayed by Trudeau and the Liberals.
There were two major stances that Harper took that people took exception to, and over which they were upset enough to vote him out of office. The first was the way he handled the environment, or lack thereof. Harper consistently decreased regulation over Canada’s environment, and was quite obviously not bothered enough to improve it during a time where more and more countries tried to do so amidst dire warnings from scientists. No, Harper did not treat the issues of the environment correctly. But in my opinion, he did it the way he had to to help Canada the most. While that may sound crazy and backwards, it isn’t untrue. It’s no secret that one of Canada’s biggest money makers is its oil and gas industry in Alberta. By deregulating environmental standards, Harper allowed Alberta to do what it does to make more money. This was clearly to the disgust of the rest of the world and even some Canadians, but those same Canadians never batted an eye over Alberta essentially carrying the entire economy of Canada. On this issue, I’m with Harper and the Conservatives…their actions benefited the economy of Canada, just not the environment. It’s up to you which is more important, but to me it’s the former.
The other issue that killed Harper was his stance on social policies. This one was so unsettling that many people took exception. Bill C-51, passed by the Conservatives, gave police and the government more instrusive permission to prevent terrorism from breaching Canada. Where it lost many Canadians, including myself, was the justification of doing so, when Canada has such a low rate of terrorism. This was a radical bill in the same way the USA PATRIOT Act gave unimaginable permissions to law enforcement in the US after 9/11. The only difference is that this time around, people knew exactly what this type of bill would ecompass thanks to our neighbors down south, and wanted nothing to do with it. Although it had support from both the Conservatives and the Liberals, the blame for it fell heavily on the Conservatives. It also did nothing to help with immigration, if anything curbing it. The timing couldn’t have been worse, with the migrant crisis unfolding in Europe. It was a bad time to inform Canadians that if their grandparents weren’t born in the country, the government now had the power to depart them. Harper was also harshly criticized with some remarks he made over not allowing Muslims to wear the niqab during citizenship oaths. I didn’t necessarily disagree with his message, but the way it came accross was not classy, and gave offense to many. Some of his MPs were also idiots in pandering to people scared of jihad in Canada. These are all clearly regrettable and poor social positions to take as a politician, and they were enough to finish Harper. Whether or not they were important enough to do so is again up to you; in my opinion, there were and are bigger issues to worry over, but the rest of the nation felt differently. People were tired of it.
And also of all the scandals. The Conservative Party had way too many scandals in the past few years to remain successful. It was the same reason they were voted out of Alberta, and it was enough to vote them out federally as well.
Speaking of Alberta, the Conservatives won pretty much all of it. Not surprising at all, really, as Alberta has traditionally always been Conservative. What does become even more surprising, though, is that right now the NDP is in power of the province. And after seeing the results of the federal election, the reasons become even more clear. People voted for them only to spite the Conservatives, who had started to take power for granted. It’s a shame, really, though, because their policies are what benefits Alberta the most, and the NDP objectively have the policies that would least benefit Canada. They are only in power because of the backlash the Conservatives had to rightfully take. And yet the next election in Alberta is in 2019 – which means whoever voted in the NDP in Alberta clearly already regrets it, but can do little to nothing now.
I played my part in helping the PC win their seats in Alberta – or at least, I tried. Pretty much all of Alberta voted Conservative, save for a couple ridings. And one of those ridings was mine. Very disheartening to have that happen in the first election in which I voted. Maybe something I’ll have to get used to, though.
So what’s next for Canada? The Liberals reign now, with the charismatic Justin Trudeau at its helm. Not surprising to see why Canadians voted for him – when you compare him to Harper, his looks, charisma and charm dominate the unrelatable Harper. Most of the world is swooning over how handsome he is (and I have to give it to him, he does look half his age), but the fact remains that he is untested as a politician. It’ll be interesting to see how he does. While I don’t agree with most of his party’s platform, I’m open to giving him a chance. I watched him do an interview recently, and he certainly seems like intelligent, driven young politician – some might say just like his father. Let’s hope that it’s true, and that Canada does as well under him as it did under Harper. O Canada!