Political perplexity; confessions of an ex-pundit
The level of distaste I now have for Canadian politics is palpable. Watching the federal election results roll in Monday night was akin to chewing on aluminum foil for me.
I am hanging up my pundit spurs. Retiring my commentator’s cup. Exiting my expert’s lair.
Yes, my party came in second. And anything but first place sucks in politics. Well, except if you are the NDP, the perennially hapless Dippers find themselves now potentially propping up Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, who were handed a minority government by the electorate.
As I wrote in my last blog on the eve of the election, this is the worst possible situation for Canada and Western Canada in particular. The socialist NDP has policies that are anti-business, anti-resource extraction and guaranteed to kill the economy. In addition, Trudeau will have to play nice with Quebec, as the Bloc Québécois — with its leader Yves-François Blanchet, nicknamed Goon — enjoyed a resurgence, feasting mostly off of the NDP in that province. And in two territories, more on that later.
And the NDP was all but shut out of any urban seats.
As for the Tories, while the Liberals won 157 out of 338 seats (dropping 27 places from 2015), the Conservatives picked up 22 seats, ending up with 121 MPs.
The worst thing the Conservatives could do now is to pull out the knives on Leader Andrew Scheer. He is very capable in the House and also needs more time for Canadians to get to know him. The party — my party, although I’m not a card-carrying member — needs to have a steady hand on the tiller as we head into a minority government situation, which could crumble almost at any time.
“Tonight, Conservatives have put Justin Trudeau on notice,” Scheer said in his concession speech. “And Mr. Trudeau, when your government falls, Conservatives will be ready and we will win.”
In my pre-election blog, I waxed whimsically over the potential of a Conservative government, as the polls were close.
However, while the Tories did win the popular vote, Canada’s Victorian-era first-past-the-post system will allow the Liberals to govern with 33 per cent of the popular vote. The NDP received 15 per cent of the popular vote, with the Bloc Québécois earning eight per cent and the Green Party getting six per cent.
I also toyed with the notion that the NWT could shake a decades-old curse of voting for Liberals and Dippers, deciding on my friend and Tory candidate Yanik D’Aigle.
Well, Liberal Incumbent Michael McLeod — he of the Brothers McLeod political dynasty — won 40 per cent of the popular vote, crushing second-place D’Aigle by 2,359 votes and his 26 per cent of the popular vote. The NDP, Greens, and People’s Party (who appropriately received a national shunning Monday) were well back in the results.
I have nothing personal against McLeod. He works hard, but isn’t exactly a shining star in his party. But now that he is one of two Liberals representing the Arctic — Liberal Larry Bagnell squeaked a win over the Tories in the Yukon, the Yukon went NDP — we’ll see if he gets selected for a cabinet post. If that happens, my opinion of the man will certainly change.
And with the re-election of the Liberals, there should be no delays in implementing the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework released just prior to the campaign. Right?
The federal election was the second tilt in October in which my hopes and dreams were bruised and bloodied by the electorate.
One thing I learned when I worked in politics down south years ago is that when the people speak, you respect their choice.
In my prediction blog posted prior to the Oct. 1 Territorial General Election, I made a list of who would win and who should win in each constituency.
The results proved I am indeed no pundit.
While I am very happy overall with the voters’ rebuke of the lacklustre 18th Assembly — especially with the election of nine female MLAs, bringing the 19th Assembly close to parity with the men folk — I failed to successfully forecast both who would win and who should win.
I selected eight out of 19 winners. And lost a couple of very close calls. I selected eight female candidates to succeed and a couple of others who should win. So that was some pretty fancy punditry for this now ex-pundit.
Hay River South was a complete shocker for me. I had incumbent cabinet minister Wally Schumann pegged as the next possible premier. But I should have heeded information I heard about Schumann’s unlikeability factor in his constituency. He had apparently become a bit too big for his britches, I heard, and had become too comfortable as a cabinet minister, to the detriment of attending to local issues.
Rocky Simpson, father to Hay River North incumbent MLA Rocky “R.J.” Simpson — who was acclaimed, creating a father/son South/North dynamic in the NWT’s second-largest community — received 350 votes to Schumann’s 322. I had Schumann both winning and someone who should win.
In the capital, I’ll compare some of my predictions with those of Northern News Services Ltd. (NNSL) managing editor Mike Bryant, who surveyed Yellowknife’s seven electoral districts, minus the Ingraham Trail, counting lawn signs in an admittedly non-scientific survey.
I said Great Slave would be a close race and it really wasn’t. This is my home constituency and I am happy with the outcome. Katrina Nokleby received 454 votes, over Patrick Scott’s 389. I said she should win and would win. The three-time political also-ran Scott — who flew NDP colours on his lawn signs — wasn’t exactly sanguine over the results.
While he did travel to Nokleby’s victory party to offer congratulations, he told NNSL’s Yellowknifer: “I’m not happy about it but that’s the card that’s been dealt. She’s got work to do and I hope she does it well.”
Bryant’s sign poll missed this one big-time, as he counted 35 signs for Scott, with only 19 for Nokleby.
I said Frame Lake would be a close race. It did end in a recount, but voters leaned left and incumbent regular MLA Kevin O’Reilly (who I said would win) kept his seat with 357 votes over former MLA and cabinet minister Dave Ramsay’s 346. Even after the judicial recount, Ramsay (who I said should win) claimed voting irregularities occurred. I note Bryant’s sign poll had Ramsay ahead 60 to 40.
A couple of other constituency battles perplexed me. I knew Kam Lake would be a close race, what with six candidates, but I didn’t foresee colourful incumbent Kieron Testart losing. I note that Bryant’s sign count had Testart edging out eventual winner Caitlin Cleveland by one sign, 34 to 33.
I accurately predicted incumbent cabinet minister Caroline Cochrane would narrowly beat Hughie Graham in Range Lake. As did Bryant’s sign count, 31 to 25.
And I also accurately predicted incumbent Julie Green would keep her Yellowknife Centre seat. Although I had stated I thought either challengers Thom Jarvis or Niels Konge should win, as I disagree with Green’s approach to the downtown Yellowknife social and economic mess. Bryant’s sign count method also had Green out front.
While I did call Yellowknife South correctly, with Caroline Wawzonek’s win (as did Bryant), I whiffed on Yellowknife North.
I did not see incumbent Cory Vanthuyne losing to lawyer/houseboater Rylund Johnson in a nail-biter. I liked Cory and thought he was a good regular MLA. But I don’t live in Yk North.
I also note that Bryant’s sign count failed in this constituency. However, Johnson had an anti-sign position and only produced a few handmade examples.
So that’s it. My last political safari through Canadian politics. I’ll just enjoy my hobby of watching the zoo that is American governance.
I’ll now blog about the weather, bad parking and restaurant food.
Well, maybe until I learn about the cabinet and premier the new assembly will choose for itself.
So I have a few days respite.