Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Mark Crowley


Who Ever Said Canadian Politics Were Dull?

Posted: 11/28/2012 5:19 pm

What an exciting time to be a political addict in Canada. Who says Canadian politics is boring? People who aren't paying attention, that's who. At least four exciting things happened this week. Yes, four.

First, the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, was found in violation of the Conflict of Interest act and will be removed from office. Essentially, he voted on something he really shouldn't have and clearly took pride in not knowing how the process of government works as a defense. A process which he has been involved in for 15 years. Fascinating.

Second, we find out that Mark Carney, you know, the head of the Bank of Canada, our faithful and steady captain who rode us through rough waters, who everyone loves so much they elected him head of the international Financial Stability Board is leaving. Well, the Brits love him so much they headhunted him right out from under us. Which I guess we're fine with, sounds like he wants more of a challenge. Amazing.

Of course, he'll have to deal with the British press now, but they're nice right?
(Whoa...seriously? A moose? Who trusts a moose with money? Everyone knows only beavers, caribou and loons can be trusted with hard currency.)

Third, of course, there's sport! No, I don't mean the Grey Cup, although that was great...Argos! I mean elections, you know, the best sport ever? There were three yesterday! And they weren't boring, at all. Alright, Durham was kind of boring, but in a good way. Congratulations to Erin O'Toole, the new MP for Durham, Ontario for winning your riding by an astounding 50.7 per cent (last time I checked).

What's that? That doesn't sound that astounding to you? I'll have you know that Mr. O'Toole now has a right that only 145 out 309 members of parliament may claim. That is the right to call himself the duly elected representative of his riding who also has the support of the majority of the population which he serves.

Because for half of all MPs, more half their constituents didn't vote for them. Write that one down. 

You can see the see the official results here. The boring headline you'll undoubtedly see somewhere is that all the incumbent parties won, two Conservative and one NDP, so no change in parliament, yawn. But it was so much more exciting than that. The real winner last night by a longshot was the Green Party. They didn't win any seats but they had the political nerd class on the edge of their seats for hours last night on twitter watching #yyc and #yyj, what tweeters call Calgary and Victoria respectively (airport codes, you know).

The greens had historically high results and had a real shot at winning either seat if any other single candidate had not been there. In fact, that's true for the Liberals in Calgary as well, if the NDP weren't running it could easily have been a three way photo finish. If the Greens weren't running it's hard to tell because the NDP did so badly. But the Liberal would almost surely have won handily. Now, don't mistake this kind of talk as making an excuse or spinning the result for the Greens or the Liberals. There is a larger point here and Canadians and politicians are slowly waking up to it.

Another hint, journalists on twitter were a bit shocked the Greens were doing so well in Victoria. No one was looking at Victoria. Everyone knew it was going to the NDP...right? But Victoria was just as close as shockingly close Calgary. The bigger shock for many people was that the two old national alternatives the Liberals and the Conservatives were essentially irrelvant in Victoria. Their combined vote tallies paling in comparison to either the NDP or the Green vote on their own. So what is going on with our country?

What I think is going on is a kind of phase shift in Canadian politics. People used to feel like there were two and a half viable, national parties in Canada, plus the Bloc of course. The Orange crush in 2011 was the first step towards tearing this reality down. The order of the 'half party' was swapped from the NDP to the Liberals. We have only been slowly coming to accept that as a nation. The media in particular seems to forget sometimes which party is Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and which is the third party.

But the second result of Election 41 was the election of a Green MP. A party which has polled over the years between 3 per cent and over 10 per cent support nationally. Last night's byelection shows us it was not just luck. The Greens garnered around 25 per cent and 34 per cent of actual votes in Calgary(!) and Victoria. Elizabeth May's stellar performance in parliament doesn't hurt the image of the party either.

We all need to face it, there are now four, viable, national parties in our country now. They have very different approaches to many issues but three of them have a lot more in common than they have seperating them when compared to the Conservatives, so they need to find a way to work out their differences. There is no good reason why the voters of Calgary Centre find themselves represented this morning by a candidate who received only 37 per cent of the votes cast. Especially when the next party received only 4 per cent less than them and everyone knows what the second choice of most of the remaining third of the electorate would be.

So finally the fourth piece of exciting news from yesterday, at least for me. Some hope going forward:

"There are some ridings where the vast majority of voters would like to have a progressive voice. So, if a riding is willing to have a run-off (nomination) so that the progressive voice has a chance of becoming elected, then that's something that I think is a good idea."

That quote is from MP for Vancouver Quadra Joyce Murray, who yesterday put herself forward for the leader of the Liberal Party. Oh, and she's also openly in favour of Electoral Reform. This is rare for a Liberal.

Now, I'm not necessarily saying Joyce Murray would be the best leader for the Liberals and I don't know if the Liberals would be the best party to govern at this point. But a phase shift is occurring in Canadian politics and all the parties need to wake up and deal with it. This is the kind of proposal which needs to be openly, and maturely discussed rather than dismissed out of hand or attacked as undemocratic. Nathan Cullen on the NDP side made similar proposals when running for leader of his party.

This byelection showed us that there are three viable progressive parties in Canada. Canadians are trying to vote for them, but strategic voting is hard and messy and not as good as a real proportional voting system. Until we get that, the parties need to find a way to make it easier for the progressive majority of Canadian voters to get what the they actually want, and that is a progressive government.

Loading Slideshow...
  • K Harazny

    Canada losing Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney to the Bank of England is a huge loss for our country.

  • Melton Blue

    George Osborne appoints Mark Carney to become the Governor of The Bank of England. Canada has done well under his stewardship.

  • William Cameron

    Mark Carney sounds like a good choice as next #BoE Governor and he has in addition the great advantage of not being Adair Turner.

  • Andrew Turmer

    Good luck to Mark Carney as the new BoE Governor. We can all forget about him never wanting the job.

  • Alex Ward

    If Queen on CN $, Carney gets visa. MT @gideonrachman: Mark Carney a great choice for Bank of England. Will the Home Office give him a visa?

  • Joel Taylor

    Well Mark carney speaks fluent French like a good Canadian should. Might help with relations with our European partners perhaps?.......

  • Tobias Ellwood

    Wise choice for new Bank of Eng Governor: Mark Carney. Unfamiliar, indeed rare mood in Chamber with whole House welcoming the appointment!

  • Derek Brower

    They noticed Canada's household debt levels when they appointed Mark Carney, right?

  • John Shmuel

    Mark Carney: "We have a good record here, a record of success in our financial system."

  • Leevan Aden

    Mark Carney did get his masters and doctorate in economics at Oxford after all.

  • Julianne Bowman

    Canadian Mark Carney to head up Bank of England! Well, staple me to a maple tree. #darkhorse

  • Robert Benzie

    Difficult day for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who is close to both @TOMayorFord and Mark Carney. #cdnpoli #onpoli #topoli

  • Andy Bruce

    Small list forming of Goldman alumni at Europe's big 2 central banks. Carney & Broadbent at BoE, obviously Draghi at ECB.

  • emily jackson

    Carney leaving? Ford thrown out of office? Just some casual news for us to wake up to in the west. AIIIEEE. #TOpoli #cdnpoli

  • David R Silva

    "He is acknowledged as the outstanding central banker of his generation," Osborne said of Carney. http://t.co/MmHJCLpP

  • Claire Schachter

    .@bankofcanada's Mark Carney dodges the Liberal leadership bullet and lands on the other side of the pond with style.

  • Ian Muller

    Carney leaving is a tough loss for Canada, but a significant validation of the Canadian central banking system #cdnpoli

  • Mantejd

    New BoE gov Mark Carney speaks in clear plain language! Understood exactly what he was saying on the @BBCnewschannel at his presser.

  • Luke Skipper

    "Canada was better than any other western economy during the crisis" Chancellor of the Exchequer #BoE #Carney #Ialwayshadfaith

  • Shirlee Engel

    NDP wishes Carney good luck for the future. Will watch closely who will be chosen. "Big shoes to fill" #cdnpoli

Loading Slideshow...
  • Stephen Taylor

    Sorry this #fordcourt verdict is taking so long. The judge was coaching football this morning and will get around to it soon.

  • Crissstina♡ ‏

    Rob Ford got kicked out of mayors office? WOWWWWW!! Hes hopping on that gravy train right back home.

  • dubstep rash

    rip rob ford. stung by a hoard of vicious gravy wasps.

  • Liz Russell

    Now I await all Rob Ford memes. #topoli #comeatmebro

  • Justen Bennett

    Oh, my. Rob Ford has been removed from his office as mayor. Toronto politics just got rather interesting. http://t.co/Ltpmkac6

  • urbandreamer

    Rob Ford needs new business cards asap!

  • David Paterson

    Terrifying thought: Governor of the Bank of Canada job is open. Rob Ford is looking for a job. ARRGGHHH! #Cdnpoli

  • The Globe and Mail

    BREAKING: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford found guilty of violating conflict of interest act, removed from office http://t.co/o0BBzIgp #topoli

  • John Lorinc

    #topoli Imagine if #toronto invested as much time and attention to transit financing as we spend distracted by @TOMayorFord latest antics.

  • wojtek arciszewski

    Its a sad day for hard working comedians throughout Toronto. It appears Rob Ford's been booted from office (pending appeal) #RobFord #TOpoli

  • Kevin Stewart

    No more coach/mayor Ford! #topoli

  • Gregory Pike

    How does it work in TO when a mayor finishes early? Is there a bielection or will the deputy step up as acting mayor? #fordcourt #TOpoli

  • Margaret Evans

    Very exciting day in Toronto- and it has nothing to do with football. Let's fix this and make sure it never happens again. #TOpoli

  • Chris Thomas

    Hey #Toronto, #RobFord might be out of office now so get yourselves educated about the issues and make informed choices. #topoli #onpoli

  • Anna Gustafson

    Who's going to drive the gravy train in the parade :(. #TOpoli #RobFord

  • Mike O'Shaughnessy

    Watching the Rob Ford circus is more fun, but Carney leaving Canada for England is bigger and more important news #topoli

  • Robert Fulton

    Oh boy - we're gonna see Jabba the Mayor kick it into serious victim mode now! #RobFord #TOpoli

  • Jam Michael McDonald

    Also, Rob Ford is trending worldwide. (Let's hope just this once and never again.) #TOpoli

  • Matthew Higgins

    If Rob Ford and Dalton McGuinty just traded positions, Toronto would have subways all over the place. #topoli #onpoli

  • Gen Chenier

    I wonder if Rob Ford will appeal the decision or leave quietly with his last shred of dignity. #TOpoli

  • Barry

    On the otherhand Doug Holyday will make an excellent Interim Mayor for #toronto #topoli #tocouncil

  • Alex Naylor

    Let's hope Ford can and does run again soon. Then Toronto can turf his partisan, ignorant ass in the most clearly democratic manner. #TOPoli

  • Johnny Audio

    Have You Driven a Ford (out of office) Lately? #topoli #fordcourt


Follow Mark Crowley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@rateldajer