Liberals win Canadian elections on anti-austerity platform


I was following the Canadian election returns last night and it soon became clear that the Liberal party led by Justin Trudeau was on its way to being able to form a government on its own, ending ten years of the awful Stephen Harper conservative government. The Liberals got 184 seats (‘ridings’) in the 338-seat parliament, Conservatives 99, NDP 44, Bloc Quebecois 10, and Greens 1. The vote totals were Liberals 39.5%, Conservatives 31.9%, NDP 19.7%, BQ 4.7%, and Greens 3.5%. Pre-election polls had suggested that the Liberals would not get the necessary 170 seats to form a government on its own.

It is interesting that Trudeau ran on an anti-austerity platform, saying that he would run up deficits in the short term while building up infrastructure. He also had a more inclusive policy towards immigrants.

I wonder if US politicians will take note. Republicans have promoted xenophobia and a budget-cutting mania that has resulted in our infrastructure falling apart and slow growth. Bernie Sanders’s policies are anti-austerity and expansionist though he says he can find ways to pay for all of them. The point should be that he should not have to, and that controlled deficit spending on worthwhile things is a good thing. The Republicans are only willing to go into debt (and massive debt at that) to pay for tax cuts for the rich and fund their criminal wars, neither of which promotes the general welfare.

Justin Trudeau’s father Pierre-Elliot Trudeau was prime minister for a period of 15 years from 1968 to 1984 with a break of less than a year in the middle. Unlike Stephen Harper, he did not slavishly follow the US on foreign policy but carved out a more independent path. Most notably, he kept Canada out of the Vietnam war. He established diplomatic relations China before the US did and was a friend of Fidel Castro and the latter even attended his funeral in 2000. I hope his son follows that lead and there are some promising signs.

The party’s election promises include ending Canada’s combat mission as part of the US-led coalition against Isis in Iraq and Syria and refocusing military efforts on training local forces and humanitarian efforts.

Trudeau has also committed to bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada and investing $250m into refugee processing.

He has committed to pulling Canada out of the new F-35 stealth fighter jet program, a 12-country partnership that includes the US, UK and Australia.

The Liberals have also committed to launching a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women – something Harper repeatedly refused to do – amending the Conservative’s controversial anti-terrorism bill and legalizing marijuana in Canada.

While following the results last night, one result flashed across the screen that said that Candice Bergen had won her riding. Really, I thought? Murphy Brown is Canadian and has retired from acting and gone into politics? But on closer investigation, it turned out to be someone else with the same name.

Comments

  1. flex says

    Candice Bergen is the daughter of Edgar Bergen, the radio ventriloquist.

    As far as I know, they are the only parent / child pair to perform on the original Muppet show as different guests on different shows.

    What trivial things I remember.

  2. says

    Trudeau kept us out of Vietnam, Chretien kept us out of Iraq. The Liberals weren’t my first choice this elections, but they are a far sight better than the Conservatives and I hope if they don’t govern center-left then at least govern in the center.

    That said, my favourite pre-election opinion piece…
    http://www.edmontonsun.com/2015/10/16/hicks-on-biz-hes-unlikeable-but-stephen-harper-will-again-be-prime-minister-with-a-majority

    On Monday night, Stephen Harper and his Conservatives will be re-elected for a fourth term, with a majority government.

    What is it with conservatives and their recent inability to believe polls?

    Harper understands the mysterious alchemy, that when you lower taxes, prosperity seems to follow and consequently, ironically, more money flows into public coffers.

    Oh yeah, that’s right. History teaches them nothing.

  3. raven says

    Harper understands the mysterious alchemy, that when you lower taxes…

    It’s alchemy all right, or more correctly magic. Supply Side economics. Magic doesn’t work in the real world.

    Reagan tried. Bush tried it. Brownback, Jindal, and Walker tried it. All failed.

    To be fair, as Krugman said, they knew it was a failed idea and wouldn’t work. Supply Side economics just sounds better than stealing from the poor and the nation to give to the ultra-rich.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    he would run up deficits in the short term while building up infrastructure

    I think a turning point was when Mulcair (NDP) said he would run balanced budgets, just like Harper. A whole lot of lefties (me included) went “huh?”. Infrastructure really needs a lot of work in Canada (maybe not as much as in the US?), and interest rates are low. Seems like a no-brainer, and most Canadians can recognize the “must have balanced budgets” mantra as the bullshit it is.

  5. says

    A whole lot of lefties (me included) went “huh?”.

    Yup, that put the NDP in a precarious position for my vote. But Trudeau’s vote for C-51 and the Liberal website using the right-wing talking point of “job-killing tax hikes” when it came to corporate taxes were enough to keep me from switching.

  6. Lesbian Catnip says

    The Liberals are no Labour Party. Trudeau might be advocating a deficit for infrastructure but I’d hardly call him “anti-austerity.” After all he still supports a surveillance state and has announced no intentions of expanding labour laws.

  7. Dave Huntsman says

    Interesting that he wants to cancel the F-35 aircraft procurement; does that mean he’d be willing to give up the several hundred million dollars in F-35 work that Canada performs for the program?

    Trudeau maintains that the reason for any fighter is solely to protect Canadian airspace, and that can more chiefly be done with cheaper alternatives to the F-35. But, that is not the sole job; Canada is a NATO member, required to provide air forces et al to Europe against Russia if required – and you need a more modern aircraft for that than the cheaper, non-F-35 alternatives. So it appears his policy is that, if anything serious ever happens in Europe, Canada won’t do its share, because it didn’t buy a modern aircraft; it will leave it to the US – as usual.

  8. Kimpatsu1 says

    The Liberals got 184 seats (‘ridings’)…
    Riding is old English meaning 1/3rd, Mano. That’s why there are only 3 ridings in Yorkshire.

  9. Lesbian Catnip says

    So it appears his policy is that, if anything serious ever happens in Europe, Canada won’t do its share, because it didn’t buy a modern aircraft; it will leave it to the US – as usual.

    Hey, as long as Americans are willing to run a deficit for Wars That Haven’t Happened Yet, I say we let them.

  10. Lesbian Catnip says

    Also you assume Canada’s only useful contribution is weapons. We used to be famous for humanitarian aid. And we seem to be accepting refugees at a rate that is proportionately much higher than ‘Murika.

  11. Rob Grigjanis says

    Dave Huntsman @8:

    Interesting that he wants to cancel the F-35 aircraft procurement; does that mean he’d be willing to give up the several hundred million dollars in F-35 work that Canada performs for the program?

    That’s what Harper said, but it’s not so clear that Canada would lose that business. Link. Looks like more Harper bullshit.

    Regarding the best plane for Canada, see here.

    Fortunately, a reasonable and affordable solution is available: the F/A-18 Super Hornet…
    …It would also ensure that new planes arrive before the CF-18s become un-flyable.

  12. Rob Grigjanis says

    Lesbian Catnip @7:

    he still supports a surveillance state

    Liberals voted for C-51, NDP voted against it, but apart from that purely symbolic difference, I’m not seeing much daylight between

    Trudeau said, as he has before, that he only agrees with part of the bill and would seek to repeal other aspects if he’s elected in October.

    and

    When asked whether an NDP government would amend or scrap the bill, Mulcair was categorical.

    “We would get rid of every offending provision of Bill C-51, that’s for sure.”

  13. Nate Carr (Totes not an imposter D:) says

    Serious question, how advanced do Canada’s (or America’s) primary fighter jets really need to be? Who are we most likely to be deploying them against?

  14. Nick Gotts says

    I think a turning point was when Mulcair (NDP) said he would run balanced budgets, just like Harper. – Rob Grigjanis@5

    Interesting international comparison. The NDP’d closest UK equivalent, the Labour Party, recently and unexpectedly elected Jeremy Corbyn, an actual socialist, as its leader, on an anti-austerity platform. His closest ally, John McDonnell, was appointed shadow chancellor (i.e. the main opposition spokesperson on the economy). The Tory government was known to be planning to pass a law mandating balanced budgets (i.e. no net borrowing for any purpose) in “normal times”. Initially, and to considerable surprise, McDonnell announced that Labour would support it, the line being that they were just as determined to abolish the deficit and pay off debt as the Tories, but would do it differently. This was quite out of line with Corbyn’s campaign, which was backed by a clutch of influential economists including Krugman and Stiglitz. McDonnell’s announcement, which one must assume had Corbyn’s support, may have been an attempt to avoid being seen as the “tax and spend” party – which of course is a true description of any governing party anywhere, but has been thrown at Labour for decades – or to placate Labour MPS, very few of whom wanted Corbyn as leader. Labour immediately came in for strong criticism from the SNP (the third largest party in the Commons), the Green Party and others, and fortunately this disastrous capitulation was reversed (in thoroughly embarrassing fashion) before the vote, and just 20 Labour MPs defied party discipline to abstain. This is just one of a number of tactical blunders the new leadership has made, but hopefully they will get their act together soon.

  15. Goan Jones says

    A few things that got my attention with Canada’s election were:
    1) The amount of attention given to racism against Muslims is far higher than in any other election I’ve ever seen. Even in European elections, no party ever speaks out so defensively for Muslims.
    2) Canada elected a third party into office. Never seen that happen anywhere else.
    3) He is supportive of giving asylum to immigrants, something that most European countries would leave to the small far-left parties.

    While I understand that issue 1 and 3 weren’t major considerations in the minds of Canadians, who were more supportive of the Liberals due to their ECONOMIC policy, I still feel that Canada has paid a ridiculous amount of attention to Muslims and Syria.

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