Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The election is over, what now?

With the election ending in a victory for the Liberals it is now time to take a look at what the future might hold for each of the three main parties.

The Liberals are back!  Their victory was convincing and it has been accompanied by an almost palpable feeling of relief amongst Canadians.

In the short-term the Liberals will do no wrong.  They will enjoy the usual honeymoon that comes along with a change in government and they will have all sorts of low hanging fruit left over from the last administration with which to establish their bonafides for governing.

However, in the medium to long-term the Liberal government is going to face many challenges.  First and foremost they are inheriting a weak economy that unlike 1993 is not on the cusp of the second longest economic expansion of the post-war era.  The economy is more likely to go down than up in the next year or so although we should see an improvement after that.  That is going to present a great challenge to them.  Fortunately, they have promised to stimulate the economy for the next few years by investing in infrastructure.  That might mitigate some of the upcoming economic downturn and it might act as a bridge from now to the upturn that should happen in a couple of years.

The second big challenge is the TPP.  The usual suspects will be out in force to oppose that agreement and as history has demonstrated they have the easier argument than those who would support the agreement.  Fortunately, there is no rush to ratify the agreement.  There is no way the Tea Party controlled American Congress will give President Obama a trade victory by ratifying it during the final months of his term.  That will leave it to the next president and most of the credible replacements for the President have come out against the agreement.  The Liberals can safely wait until 2017 or beyond before bringing any enabling legislation forward for the agreement.

The NDP is back, to their traditional place in the House of Commons.  

It is an open question of whether Mr. Mulcair will be able to hang onto his position.  The NDP usually does not eat its leaders like the other two parties do but the NDP have never been so close to winning government only to see it slip away either.  That is going to make things very uncomfortable for Mr. Mulcair in the coming months.  The only saving grace for him is that most of the most credible replacements for him all lost their seats in the election. As well, the NDP has not been successful as the conscience of the Canadian Parliament and they have now suffered failure pursuing a more pragmatic approach as well.  Is there a third way?  I cannot see it.  I suspect the NDP will be in third place for the foreseeable future.

The Conservatives are screwed.

History has demonstrated that a political party that is defeated after holding government for an extended period of time wanders the political wilderness for a great deal of time afterwards.  It will take that time for the party to renew itself and get rid of the dead wood and hangers on that always infest a party long in power.  Many names have been put forth to replace Mr. Harper but I would bet that none of them will ever see the inside of 24 Sussex.  The next Conservative Prime Minister has not entered anybody's radar at this time. That will probably not happen until after 2019.

Added to the Conservatives' problems is Stephen Harper pretty much tore the Conservative house down in his attempt to cling to power.  The Conservatives spent more than a decade attempting to shed the redneck, intolerant image that it was saddled with when the party was formed.  They threw all of that away with the Niqab, Cultural Barbarity tip line and taking away citizenship gambits of the election.  All of their work reaching out to new Canadians has been wasted.  All of their efforts to put forward an image of being a tolerant, big tent party has been for naught.  It is going to take a great deal of time to repair the damage that was done during the election.

Finally, it is an open question as to whether the Conservatives can remain united without the discipline of power.  The party is inevitably going to go through some upheaval over the next couple of years and no one knows what long-term impact that will have on the party.  

All of the parties are going to have to adjust to the new reality.  It is going to be interesting to watch how each one makes those adjustments.

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