Liberal Party in Canada gets no-recount-needed election victorygreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
Tuesday November 28 3:14 AM ET
Liberal Party Rolls in Canada
By DAVID CRARY, Associated Press Writer
OTTAWA (AP) - Jean Chretien had exhorted voters to ``Remember Florida,'' and they heeded his message, delivering a no-recount-needed election victory that gave the prime minister's Liberal Party a third straight majority government.
The outcome placed Chretien among the most successful Canadian politicians of all time, yet it also highlighted the nation's bitter East-West divide. The Liberals were trounced by the conservative Canadian Alliance in the three western provinces, but the Alliance failed to impress the more populous East.
For Chretien, prime minister since 1993, it was a personal triumph. He had risked a backlash by calling an election less than 31/2 years into his five-year term, and leaders of the four opposition parties hoped to deprive him of an outright majority in the 301-seat House of Commons.
Instead, the Liberals gained seats, improving from 161 to 173. The Canadian Alliance improved from 58 seats to 66, but its dreams of a breakthrough in pivotal Ontario fizzled - it won just two of the 103 seats in the most populous province, compared to 100 for the Liberals.
In one of many Election Day allusions to the deadlocked U.S. presidential election, Health Minister Allan Rock - an easy re-election winner in Toronto - exulted over the Alliance's unthreatening showing.
``They can look at all the dimpled chads they want,'' he said.
The Liberals lost a few seats in the West, but more than compensated with gains in the Atlantic provinces and, most surprisingly, in Quebec. The Liberals picked up eight seats in the mostly French-speaking province to evenly split Quebec's seats 37-37 with the separatist Bloc Quebecois.
The Bloc, which hopes eventually to win a referendum on seceding from Canada, received 40.5 percent of the Quebec votes, compared to 43.6 percent for the Liberals.
``This shows that Quebeckers want to turn the page, that we want to go forward as a country together,'' said John Rae, one of Chretien's campaign managers. But the Bloc leader, Gilles Duceppe, refused to abandon the dream of independence.
``The struggle of the people of Quebec sometimes passes by roads that are very difficult,'' he said. ``But in my most deepest soul I know Quebec will one day be a country - our country.''
Chretien was re-elected for the 11th time from his district in Shawinigan, Quebec, a factory town where he grew up as one of 19 children. When President Clinton (news - web sites) leaves office in January, Chretien will become the longest-serving leader of any of the major industrial powers.
``The campaign often was too negative and too personal,'' Chretien told supporters. ``The Canadian people now expect all of us to carry out our responsibilities.''
Turnout for the election was only 63 percent, the lowest of any Canadian election in at least 75 years. Of nearly 13 million votes cast, the Liberals received 41 percent, the Alliance 25 percent, the Bloc Quebecois 11 percent, the Progressive Conservatives 12 percent and the New Democrats 8.5 percent.
The leftist New Democrats and center-right Progressive Conservatives each lost seats, finishing with 13 and 12 respectively. But the Progressive Conservative leader, former Prime Minister Joe Clark, won a tough race in Calgary, Alberta, and vowed to restore the once-powerful party to national prominence.
Clark's determination bodes ill for the Canadian Alliance, which was formed out of the Reform Party earlier this year with the aim of uniting conservative voters in a single party. In many Ontario districts, Liberal candidates won because of a split in votes for the Alliance and Progressive Conservatives.
The Alliance leader, fundamentalist Christian and former preacher Stockwell Day, insisted his party would find a path to power.
``We will be the government that will respect the taxpayers, will respect provinces and will respect this great nation as people want it respected,'' said Day, who struggled throughout the campaign to convince Easterners he was not a right-wing radical.
It was clear that a solid plurality of Canadians felt satisfied with the Liberals' economic policies. Chretien and his finance minister, Paul Martin, have eliminated the budget deficit and embarked on a long-promised program of tax cuts.
The decisive outcome was only one of many contrasts between the Canadian and U.S. elections. Canada's campaign lasted only five weeks, and campaign spending was a tiny fraction of the estimated $2 billion spent by American candidates, parties and special interests.
Canadian broadcasters went out of their way to assure viewers that there would be no erroneous victory projections, noting that in Canada - unlike the United States - there is no exit-polling.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 28, 2000
Canadians also have one ballot system used throughout the country. Their elections are run by a non-partisan group (Elections Canada?) and they don't use exit polls. Seems we have much to learn from our Canadina friends...
-- Granny Grammar (email@example.com), November 28, 2000.
Well, someone said (somewhere in a previous thread) that Canada would probably know who their new PM was before Americans knew who their new president was. At this rate, there may be glaciers approaching the suburbs of Ontario before we know.
-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), November 28, 2000.
In many Ontario districts, Liberal candidates won because of a split in votes for the Alliance and Progressive Conservatives.
And in many western ridings, alliance candidates won because of a split in votes for the Liberals and the NDP, just as reform did the last time. In this election, most votes the tories "took away" from another party came from the Liberals and the NDP, not the alliance. Any way you slice it, the strong Ontario showing for the Liberals was an anti-alliance vote. We ended-up with a gov that needed to change its ways and now won't because so many voters were afraid of the religious right.
-- viewer (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 28, 2000.
>>We ended-up with a gov that needed to change its ways and now won't because so many voters were afraid of the religious right<<
Couldn't have said it better myself.
There was much talk on CBC radio this morning about how regionally divided we are, and whether some form of Proportional Representation (PR) might be in order. But all I could think was ITALY! It has PR and is as regionally divided as Canada - and has had over 40 gov'ts since WW2.
Chretien now has a chance to leave his mark on history. Will he take some bold stances now that his place in the history books is assured (by virtue of winning three straight majority gov'ts) or will his previous tendancies to autocratic, safe and timid governance come to the fore even more.
A nation waits....
-- Johnny Canuck (email@example.com), November 28, 2000.