The Rest

Sep 30, 2015

Rundle: Canada’s own dead-cat politicking

Canada definitely does not want to become the United States -- but is it ready to return to liberal government?

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


“This is the first three-way horse race we’ve had in years. We’re loving it.” In the BBQ-Bar, downtown Windsor, just across the river from Detroit, Jon is filling me in on the Canadian election. He’s co-publisher of the Windsor Independent, Windsor’s alternative paper, done in the standard style — Letraset layout, retro graphics, head shop ads, Dan Savage-esque sex column — and co-organiser of its hipster quadrant (Walkerville) festival. He’s one of those guys: hip but savvy, a journo but a business head, focused on making this mid-size town get to the front rank.

He’s also, in past weeks, become consumed by the country’s epic election, an 11-week slugathon, in which Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is trying for a fourth term, to cap off his decade in power. “That’s a long shot.” Jon is no fan of Harper’s policy or record, and in that, he’s with the majority of Canadians east of the Great Lakes. But he’s fascinated by the man himself, and in that, too, he is in the majority. Harper has dominated Canadian politics since the early 2000s, and the Canadian political imagination as well. He’s set himself against what Jon calls “the Laurentian elite”, the well-connected upper-middle classes from Toronto up the St Lawrence River to Montreal and Quebec, whom Harper has scorned as the rulers of “a north European socialist state that doesn’t work, and they don’t care that it doesn’t”.

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12 thoughts on “Rundle: Canada’s own dead-cat politicking

  1. Liam Whelan

    With a genuine 3 horse race this could be interesting. The conservatives are leading in the polls and will probably come out with the most seats after the election but not a majority, in the end the result will most likely be a Liberal-NDP government, that of course depends on how well Bloc Quebecois can poll in Quebec and how many seats they can take off the NDP, that could very much stymie their cause similar to what the SNP did to the Labour stronghold of Scotland in Britain. Although there is much animosity between the mainstream left and the separatist left like the Labor-Green relationship in Australia, the NDP and the Liberals may just need to suck it up and form government with BQ due to their mutual disdain of the Conservatives.

  2. Jaybuoy

    He’s an odd-bod, Harper, with the same mix of social-conservatism and economic liberalism as a Tony Abbott, yet with an ease of manner that makes him far more beguiling……could be describing Turnbull..

  3. Matters Peter

    While the details differ, The Cannadians like the Australians are not blinkered but completely blindfolded. Anybody to the left of Harper/Abbott is called that dirty word, a ‘socialist’.
    The Capitalist v. Socialist argument is old hat – they haggled about the distribution of goods. While all our friends have been asleep, the radical change has been missed. Today, the problem is not the distribution of goods, but THE NATURE AND QUANTITY of the goods themselves, with the trouble being caused by the decadent, profligate, out of control consumerism.
    All of us, including our politicos, must come to understand, that the only solution to prevent the threatened turning of our small planet into a half dead global garbage dump, is a total change in outlook and way of life. Finagling with economics will not save us.

  4. AR

    how good would that be, to watch Bill Shorten speak French for an hour?
    I’d settle for hearing him try English, rather than the verbless MBA mush that he pushes forth – it can’t be called speaking as he clearly neither knows nor cares what it might mean as long as the sounds he’s learnt by rote come out in vaguely the right order.
    Harper’s demise would help restore Canada’s once high national reputation – trashed, like ours by truly vicious dog whistled policies on clmiate, social cohesion, moral content by the same ilk for the same tawdry reasons, power without glory.

  5. Kevin Herbert

    Thanks GD. I now understand Harper’s modus operandi.

  6. Iskandar

    @Liam Whelan

    According to the latest opinion polls which can be viewed at
    the Conservatives are not leading. They are projected to win 132 seats to the Liberals 97, NDP 106, Greens 1 and Bloc Quebecois 2. Canada’s Liberals are not like ours, they are, or were when I lived in Canada, center-left similar to our Labor. On these figures if the Liberals and NDP form a coalition government, which I would be surprised if they would not, they would hold 203 seats, flushing out the Conservatives with 132.

    Friends with whom I maintain contact in Canada detest Harper, not mild dislike, but full-on revulsion with the direction he took the country, and long to see him gone. Though he is suave compared to Abbott’s coarseness, they are of the same ilk, and got on fabulously when Abbott visited Ottawa in June 2014. The display of affection for each other was so sickeningly over the top that I’m sure it swung the provincial election three days later against the Conservatives, the Liberal party winning.

  7. colin skene

    Guy, just go to where ever elections and campaigns are. You help make it entertaining and enlightening. Thanks for another great read. I feel like I know something about Canadia now!

  8. tonyfunnywalker

    Oh Canada — another Lynton Crosby victim — you fools.

  9. Gavin Moodie

    The Conservatives won a majority in 2011, and they started undermining the public institutions of independent evidence such as the CBC, Statistics Canada, Environment Canada and other public research institutions.

    I agree that the Tories are likely to lose government. I doubt the NDP and Liberals will form a coalition. More likely the non Conservative party with the more seats will govern with the support of the other party, as the Liberals governed Ontario until they won a majority in 2014.

  10. davidh

    Agree with Iskander my own Canadian acquaintances to a man and woman hate Harper’s guts. Indeed the depth of feeling is similar to the anti Abbott sentiment back in Oz (where I no longer live.) Harper may lose considerable support on the back of his unconditional support for the US TPP alone. (in which he is accompanied by both a compliant Oz and alas, Key here in NZ.)

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