We know you all have many questions about yesterday's elections in Canada, America's neighbor to the north, such as "Was Justin Trudeau's attempt to consolidate power with a snap election merely a tactical error, or is he now doomed to eventual failure?" or "What is a 'riding' in Canadian politics, and do they actually ride something, like a moose or a big robot beaver?" or "Buh? Canada? Election? Whaa?"

The long and the short of it is that Canadian voters returned Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party to power in Canada's Parliament, but the Liberals failed to win a majority of seats as Trudeau had hoped when he called the election in August. In fact, the outcome of the election was almost exactly the same as that in the 2019 election: Trudeau's Liberals won 156 seats, one less than in 2019, and well short of the 14 additional seats needed to hold an outright majority. The rival Conservatives won 121 seats, exactly the same as they did in 2019. In another surprising echo of 2019, the Boston Bruins somehow replaced the Tampa Bay Lightning as winners of the Stanley Cup, but only in Canada.


Canada didn't have to hold another election until 2024, but Trudeau bet that Liberals could win a majority based on his government's generally favorable polling for his handling of the pandemic. As with many plans people might have made in August, the Delta variant of the coronavirus blew that idea up like Snidely Whiplash throwing a bomb into a lumber mill. A lot of Canadian voters thought it was a bad idea to hold elections during the pandemic, and as the New York Times notes,

Mr. Trudeau's opponents were quick to characterize his move as a reckless power grab. Erin O'Toole, the Conservative leader, went so far as to call it "un-Canadian." [...]

"I'm wondering if the Liberals, in their minds, are saying: 'Dang it, why did we — why did we call it?'" Kimberly Speers, a professor of political science at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, said during the final week of campaigning.

Now, she said, it is unclear how long any Liberal minority government will be able to hold together and what this will all mean for the party's leader. "How long is Trudeau going to last?" Ms. Speers wondered.

The Times says that Trudeau mostly campaigned by warning that O'Toole would make a terrible prime minister, which is certainly likely, since many of his Conservatives have, like their Republican pals to the south, been shitheads about mask and vaccine mandates. It might seem a weirdly defensive strategy in an election that Trudeau called, but then, the reemergence of the pandemic kind of made it necessary. The AP points out that Alberta has been hit especially hard by outbreaks of the Delta virus. Alberta's Conservative premier, Jason Kenney, is an ally of O'Toole, allowing Trudeau to contrast his pandemic policies with those of Conservatives.

"Hubris led Trudeau to call the election. He and the Liberals won the election but lost the prize they were seeking. This is only a great night for the Liberals because two weeks ago it appeared they would lose government outright something they could not fathom before they gambled on an election," said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto.

Wiseman said the Conservatives were hurt by the situation in Alberta. "The explosion of the pandemic in Alberta in the past 10 days undermined O'Toole's compliments of the Alberta Conservatives on how they had handled the pandemic and reinforced Trudeau's argument for mandatory vaccinations," he said.

So now Trudeau gets to continue governing, but he may be weaker before, and Americans will go back to only thinking of Canada when a Republican is in danger of being elected, or when we hear that COVID hospital bills may bankrupt a lot of us. And of course, sometime around January 2024, when we've been in national election mode for months already, some of us may wonder why the US can't just have election campaigns that last 36 days and are done with.

[NYT / AP / Photo: Munich Security Conference, Creative Commons License 3.0 (Germany)]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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