Excerpts (Read the whole article at the link):
The results of the 2011 federal election have sparked a flurry of
responses, most of them marked by mixed emotion. Many of us on the left
are celebrating the dramatic surge of the NDP and its historic win of
102 seats. But the NDP's success has been tempered, even overshadowed,
by the election of a majority Conservative government.
So what does that mean for the left? Are we doomed for the next four years?
Far from it.
In fact, the prospects for the left are quite good, although not
without many dangers. But it all depends on what we do in the days and
weeks ahead. If the left can tap into the progressive sentiment that
propelled the NDP from fourth place to Official Opposition, it has the
potential to build deeper, stronger and more confident movements -- even
under a Harper majority.
But first: let's look at the Tories' victory
Conservative support increased by less than two per cent -- about
633,000 votes, most of which came from the Liberals. Over 60 per cent of
the popular vote was against the Tories. Voter turnout was only
slightly up at 61.4 per cent. This means that Harper won a majority with
just 24 per cent of the electorate -- hardly a shift to the right.
Harper's success comes at the expense of the Liberals, who have lost
roughly 850,000 votes in each of the last two elections. Their collapse
is part of a broader trend. In the last five elections, the total
combined vote for the Conservatives and the Liberals -- both corporate
parties -- has steadily declined: from 78 per cent in 2000 to 58.5 per
cent in 2011, a drop of almost 30 points.
These figures contradict the mainstream consensus that Canadians have
become "more conservative." The opposite is true: more people than ever
are rejecting the corporate parties.
That represents an opening for the left, not a setback -- despite the
outcome of the election. Without a doubt, the Conservatives will govern
as if they have a massive mandate, but their majority is not without
contradictions. The left can take advantage of these.
For example, the incoming government is not a new one: just a
slightly bigger version of the last one. That means it won't escape the
scandals of the previous Parliament, the way a freshly elected
government would. As more information becomes available, as it surely
will after the election, Harper will face criticism over the Auditor
General's report on G-20 spending, declassified documents on Afghan
detainees, funding cuts to Planned Parenthood and the Canadian Arab
Federation (CAF's case is still before the Federal Court) and
skyrocketing costs for new F-35 fighter jets -- to name just a few.
It's true that the Conservatives have so far managed to deflect much
of this criticism, but they no longer have the opposition parties and
the minority Parliament to blame. As a majority government, the Tories
should now prepare for the criticism to stick. The honeymoon, if there
is one, will be short.
The election of a Conservative majority government is nothing to
celebrate, but neither is it reason to despair. The Tory victory is
fraught with contradictions that actually represent opportunities for
the left to reach a much bigger audience, and to convince more people to
become involved in the social movements -- especially on the labour
front. The NDP's rise to Official Opposition status could dramatically
accelerate this process -- if the left seriously engages the NDP base
and connects to the surge that sent a record number of NDP MPs to
The next four years don't have to be miserable. In fact, they could
be quite exciting. But it depends on whether the left can move past the
immediate sense of demoralization (that many of us are feeling in the
wake of Harper's majority) and seize on the tremendous opportunities
that exist to engage the growing desire for change.
That desire needs expression both in Parliament and in the streets.
When it comes to stopping Harper, at least one campaign slogan still
rings true: "Together, we can do this."