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.