On October 19, 2015, the “first night of post-Harper era” began, according to Green Party leader Elizabeth May. Following 78 days of campaigning and rhetoric, the forty-second Canadian Federal election has officially ended and the Liberal government, under party leader Justin Trudeau, will form a majority government.
After nine years, eight months and four days of Stephen Harper as the Prime Minister of Canada, many seem optimistic moving forward, looking to the young Justin Trudeau to bring the “change” he so often promised during his campaign to the ‘middle class’.
The first polls to report were those in Atlantic Canada, which shot a wave of enthusiasm to Liberal supporters as the Atlantic provinces overwhelmingly voted for and elected Liberal candidates.
Just as the 2011 Canadian federal election saw charismatic NDP leader Jack Layton lead their party to a firm spot in second place, stealing many of the Liberals’ seats under the party’s polarizing leader Michael Ignatieff, in this election, Trudeau seems to have restored the party to its former strength — and beyond. Currently, NDP is firmly in third place, having lost dozens of their previous seats.
Of all the major political parties, all candidates, except for Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, were elected in their own ridings (Duceppe being defeated by the NDP incumbent). Trudeau, Harper and May all won by large margins, whereas Mulcair was hotly contested throughout the night, with Liberal candidate Rachel Bendayan trailing closely behind.
Significantly, while the North and East seemed to be taken over by a wave of red, electing Liberal candidates throughout the Atlantic provinces, Northern Provinces, and partially throughout Quebec and Ontario, Alberta and the west seemed to be a Conservative stronghold. Harper’s own riding is, after all is the Calgary-Heritage riding, and it was unexpected that the Liberals could penetrate, what some refer to as, the “Harper Heartland”.
Although many expected Harper to resign as opposition leader in his concession speech, the former P.M instead simply thanked voters and campaign workers for their ongoing support of the party.
Niagara, in particular is a peculiar situation as it’s split between Conservative and Liberal elected candidates. St. Catharines and Niagara Centre have elected liberal candidates Chris Bittle and Vance Badawey,, beating out incumbents Rick Dykstra (Conservative) and Malcolm Allen (NDP), respectively. In contrast however, Niagara Falls and Niagara West have elected Conservative candidates Rob Nicholson (current Minister of Defence and incumbent) and Dean Allison (incumbent).
There’s a clear divide in representation across the Niagara Region, and this is likely a result of an increase in voter activity among youth — both Welland and St. Catharines are “college towns”, which would likely lean more towards Liberal affiliations, in comparison to a city like Niagara Falls in which the middle-aged and elderly comprise the majority of the population, which would likely lean towards voting Conservative.
Ultimately however, these small strongholds of Conservative power will likely not be enough to stop the progress of the Liberals’ ambitious party platforms in the House of Commons.
“You built this platform. You built this movement”, said Trudeau speaking to Canadians for the first time as Prime Minister-elect.
With such a sweeping political upset, it’s clear that Canadians want change, and hopefully our new, youthful leader Trudeau will be able to help form a more equitable and prosperous Canada.
“Canadians decided that hope and positivity are more important than fear and division. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals won a majority government and with that will come four years of progression, hard work, and a better Canada,” said Calvin Eady, President of the Brock Young Liberals. “The Niagara Region, along with students at Brock have chosen the path towards a stronger, more inclusive Canada. Today has proven that you can win an election with a positive campaign; negative politics have no place in Canada anymore. I hope that from this moment on we can work to rebuild our Parliament to a more respectful place of debate with decorum and strength.”
For more coverage of ELXN42, stay tuned to The Brock Press.