Well done Mr. Harper, but take care

by Satheesan Kumaaran

(June 08, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Canadian federal election was held on Monday, May 2, 2011, to elect members to the House of Commons of the 41st Canadian Parliament. The Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper, made it to his third consecutive Conservative election win. This is the first majority government for the Conservatives since 1988. Well done, Mr. Harper. You have fulfilled your goal until the next election in October 2015.

The New Democratic Party (NDP), which was merely a party in the Canadian federal government with lesser seats, has now become Canada's official Opposition for the first time. The NDP won the largest number of seats in its history, including a large majority of seats in Quebec (where it had previously only ever elected two candidates).

The Liberal Party won the fewest seats in their history and party leader Michael Ignatieff was defeated in his own riding. The separatist Bloc Québécois, which had won a majority of seats in Quebec in every election of its existence, lost nearly all its seats, including the seat of party leader Gilles Duceppe. The Green Party won its first elected seat, that of leader Elizabeth May.

Canada’s moderate and new history

In an unprecedented move, Canada’s oldest party, the Liberals, just managed to get only 34 seats, while the Tories got 167 seats, NDP got 102 seats, the Bloc Québécois 4 seats, and the Green Party 1 seat. What a shame the leader of the Liberal party, Michael Ignatieff, lost his own riding. This clearly shows the weakest leadership of the Liberals, while Mr. Harper and Mr. Layton had done their homework very well this time.

It is no doubt that Mr. Harper and Mr. Layton will go into the annuls of Canada’s history, and of course, students will have to forever study about these two leaders, because Mr. Harper was cited by some sectors of the Canadian people that he had been misleading the government since 1996. And of course, Mr. Layton was blamed as a leader with no mission whatsoever because he was promising the people that he would offer many social programs. Other political parties say that Mr. Layton was in a dream world because Canada’s treasury does not have such funds as to implement Mr. Layton’s promises to the people.

However, the Canadian people overwhelmingly voted in favour of Mr. Layton’s NDP to make it Canada’s official Opposition, an historic move. All these have clearly shown that Canadians want to see a change, and they did not wish to support the weak leadership of Mr. Michael Ignatieff.

It would be recalled that in 1979, the Progressive Conservatives, led by Joe Clark, defeated the Liberals led by Trudeau, and formed a minority government, despite winning a significantly smaller share of the vote than the Liberals. PCs won the most votes in seven provinces, but the Liberals captured an enormous lead in Quebec. Ed Broadbent made his debut as leader of the NDP, which won 10 more seats than in 1974 in a Parliament enlarged by 18 seats.

Again in 1980, Liberals, led by Trudeau, defeated the Progressive Conservatives, led by Clark. Social credit fades into history after an almost unbroken 45 year run, leaving Canada with a three party system.

Progressive Conservatives, led by Brian Mulroney, defeated Liberals in 1984, led by Prime Minister John Turner, and won the most seats in Canadian history. The election was both the best showing ever for the Progressive Conservatives and the second worst showing ever for the Liberals (by total seats). Mr. Mulroney was re-elected in 1988 with a second majority, contending with a much stronger performance from Liberal Turner and a strong third-party showing from NDP, who won that party’s best result ever as of 2007.

In 1993, Liberals, led by Jean Chrétien, won a majority and defeated the Progressive Conservatives led by the new Prime Minister Kim Campbell, who were left in fifth place with just two seats, their worst ever showing. The separatist Bloc Québécois’, under ex-Mulroney, cabinet minister Lucien Bouchard becomes the official opposition, and the right-wing Reform Party, led by Preston Manning, became the third party. Audrey McLaughlin's NDP also posted their worst ever results with just nine seats. The election marked the end of the predominantly three party system of the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, and NDP.

In 1997, the Liberals, led by Chrétien, were re-elected with a second majority. Manning's Reform Party became the official opposition. Bloc Québécois fell to third place under new leader Gilles Duceppe. NDP, under Alexa McDonough, won 21 seats, 12 more than in 1993. Progressive Conservatives under Jean Charest won nearly as many votes as Reform, but making only one-third the seats.

In 2000, the Liberals, led by Chrétien, were re-elected with a third majority, defeating Stockwell Day's Canadian Alliance, the unsuccessful attempt to unite the Reform Party and the Progressive Conservatives. Progressive Conservatives, led by former Prime Minister Joe Clark, barely kept official party status in the House with the minimum 12 seats.

In 2004, Liberals were re-elected under new Prime Minister Paul Martin to a minority government. They defeated the new Conservative party, led by Stephen Harper, the ex-leader of the Canadian Alliance, who merged that party with the Progressive Conservatives. Bloc Québécois experiences a revival due to the Liberal sponsorship scandal. Jack Layton's NDP came one seat short of being able to guarantee the survival of Martin's government.

Since 2006, Conservatives, led by Harper, formed a minority government, defeating Martin's Liberals. BQ kept most of its seats and NDP improved its fourth-place position. In 2008, Conservatives, led by Harper, won a second minority, defeating Stéphane Dion's Liberals by larger margins than in 2006. BQ support is steady and NDP picked up several Liberal seats. The Green Party, under new leader Elizabeth May, continued their growth, winning 6.78% of the national vote on its platform of environmental consciousness, but again failed to win any seats.

On the day of May 2, 2011 elections, Stephen Harper's Conservatives got their first majority. NDP passed Liberals as the official opposition, with the largest representation from Quebec; NDP previously had little presence in Quebec. Liberals fell to their lowest seat count in history, party leader Michael Ignatieff lost own seat. BQ support evaporates to the NDP; BQ left with only 4 seats in Quebec, party leader Gilles Duceppe lost own seat. Green Party leader Elizabeth May won its first ever seat.

What next?

There is no doubt that the Conservatives will continue to implement their platform promises made from 2006, since they were struggling to implement them as they had a minority rule. But this time, everything has changed as the Tories can do whatever they want without hindrance.

The Tories always wanted to transfer many things from public to private, encouraging privatization. They oppose illegal immigrants into Canada. They put forward in their electioneering that if the voters favoured them, they would bring Bill C-49 into being within 90 days of their being elected. And of course, they have done it now. This way, they have the power to stop any “illegal” immigrants coming into Canada.

Many immigrants, whether they come from Asia, Africa, Europe, or Americas, oppose the Tories’ plan to implement the bill C-49.There is no reason why Mr. Harper and his government wanted to do this. It clearly shows that most of the Canadian population who vote arrived in Canada as illegal immigrants acquiring the lands of the indigenous population of this country

A native Canadian can ask if the native peoples had a similar government as Mr. Harper. How did Mr. Harper’s ancestors and other mainstream followers come into Canada? The answer is that all of us came here illegally and immorally by rejecting the sentiments of the aboriginals who lived in this land for millennia.

Mr. Harper should remember that before he brings any bill to be passed in the parliament, immigrants are the ones who contribute enormously to the economy of this country and they remain solid, productive, and law-abiding citizens.

Tamil Canadians who remain law-abiding and hard-working people of Canada have participated not only by voting, but also by contesting in two ridings in Scarborough, which shows that minorities such as Tamil Canadians are coming out to join the mainstream Canadian political platform. In the riding of Scarborough-Rouge River, NDP candidate Rathika Sitsabaiesan was elected to the Canadian Parliament. Ms. Sitsabaiesan, now the first Canadian of Tamil descent to be elected as a Member of Parliament, was swept to victory with 18,856 votes and an overall 40.5% support in the riding.

Another Tamil candidate is Mr. Ragavan Paramsothy, who contested in Scarborough-Southwest came second. Despite many challenges he faced in his electioneering. Mr. Harper was in support of Mr. Paramsothy even though his own party members accused Mr. Paramsothy of having supported the Tamil militants in Sri Lanka. Tamils were very frustrated with the Harper government for their unjust actions on the oppressed people. Mr. Harper failed to acknowledge the fact that the Tamils in Sri Lanka were under the repression of the majority Sri Lankan polity, and as a result, the Tamil militants had no choice but to take up arms to protect the Tamil people from the Sri Lankan State terrorism. Yes, it is true that Mr. Harper has no knowledge of the Tamil nation who constitutes around 100 million all around the world.

In any event, through the elected Tamil MP Ms. Sitsabaiesan, every Canadian Tamil expects that she will be the voice for the Tamil cause and the reason why the Tamils have been shedding tears for so long. It is everyone’s duty to salute Mr. Harper for his dream of having a majority government, and he did fulfill his dream through the May 2, 2011, election. Well done, Mr. Harper, and we hope that you won’t abuse your almost absolute power bestowed by a majority which could only contribute to your downfall in the October 2015 election.

(The author can be reached at e-mail: satheesan_kumaaran@yahoo.com)

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