- This was an historic ass-kicking: 18.9% of the popular vote nationally is dreadful (14.2% in Quebec!).
- This was a rejection of Michael Ignatieff, in particular: whether he deserved it or not, most Canadians did not like him or want him to be Prime Minister. The leadership index from Nanos Research shows him lower at the end of the campaign than before.
- With a few exceptions, I liked our 2011 election platform. I thought it was well-suited to the moment and the leader.
- Turnout continues to be awful at 61.7%. I believe low turnout is related to the nature of the issues being discussed and the lack of articulated disagreement between the CPC, LPC and NDP. No one advocated raising the GST to deal with the deficit. No one proposed anything radical or interesting on health care. No one proposed anything significant on national defence. A common security perimeter with the United States was barely discussed. No one proposed anything especially significant to address poverty.
- The lack of significant differentiation on policy made the personalities of the leaders even more important than they usually are.
- The CPC wilfully misrepresented Liberal policy (iPod tax, hiking taxes in general) and ran a concerted negative campaign against Michael Ignatieff, which succeeded. They will do so again and again with every successive Liberal leader until they lose. I find it disgusting and shameful, but there is no denying that it worked.
The next four years
- The CPC continues to lower federal revenue by cutting taxes, in line with their long-term plan to shrink the fiscal capacity of the federal government and relatively strengthen the fiscal capacity of the provincial governments. The GST cut and the cuts to corporate taxes both provide more revenue to the provincial governments (potential, in the case of the GST: only NS and QC took the tax points).
- As a result of 1), I doubt we will be back to a balanced federal budget by 2015.
- I expect the CPC will continue to govern as they have -- that is, like a mean-spirited Liberal government -- and will continue to cut specific programs and funding for specific organizations that they dislike (long-gun registry, Status of Women, Kairos, Court Challenges, etc). They will not introduce government legislation on major social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion (this is because they are chicken-shit cowards; see also point 5, below). They will introduce some legislation in the form of private members' bills on these issues.
- We may see some action on Senate reform with the CPC and NDP holding 87.3% of the seats in the House of Commons, although I think it is unlikely, given the constitutional issues involved.
- Stephen Harper will appoint two Justices to the Supreme Court of Canada who are staunch Conservatives. Conservatives know that influence on the Supreme Court of Canada is essential to achieving their long-term social policy goals.
- Stephen Harper will have a hard time maintaining his iron grip on his MPs, now that there are more of them and they have a majority government.
- The CPC will gleefully oversee the shrinkage of the federal public service by attrition, as veteran public servants retire and are not replaced by new hires.
- The CPC will do absolutely nothing about the environment.
- The CPC will continue to spend more on the military, as part of its 20-year Canada First defence strategy.
- The CPC will introduce and pass a number of crime bills that will result in more people being incarcerated for longer periods of time.
- The CPC will cut the per vote subsidy to federal parties, which will negatively impact the NDP, LPC and Bloc.
Reforming the Liberal Party of Canada
- I am personally committed to reforming the Liberal Party of Canada. I invite you to join me by becoming a member and a monthly donor through the Victory Fund. Don't sit on the sidelines and complain -- get involved and try your best to improve the party from within.
- We should not merge with the NDP, but we should have a discussion about doing so.
- The most important quality of our next leader must be integrity. We need someone who a skeptical and cynical electorate can believe in.
- Related to 2), our next platform should be focused on a limited number of commitments that we can accomplish in short order. We need to restore faith in politicians and the best way of doing so is to repeatedly do what we say we will do.
- Forget "centrist," we need to be the party that is fiscally conservative and socially liberal. This doesn't mean that we need to be the party of the continual tax cut (that isn't necessarily fiscally conservative) but it does mean that we need to have the courage to honestly confront issues like the sustainability of funding for health care. We shouldn't live in a fiscal fantasy land. On the socially liberal front, although we have achieved much already, we can do more. There are many laws and regulations on the books that are no longer relevant or necessary. We should be the party of smart government that respects individual freedom. Right now, I would say that party is the Green Party.
- We should be the party of an open Internet, increased competition and less restrictive intellectual property law.
- The policy conference we had at Canada @ 150 was good, but avoided the question of national defence. Within the Liberal Party we need to debate the role of the Canadian military in the next 25 years or so. In general, we need to make international policy a priority. Let's not pretend the federal government is just a big provincial government.
- We need to develop a serious plan for democratic reform. Electoral reform, limits on the power of the Prime Minister, reform of Question Period, mandatory voting, a three-line whip system -- there are lots of ideas that we should discuss and could be part of an effective democratic reform package. I like the Westminster system, but even within that tradition we can improve things substantially.