CANADIAN VOTERS have today terminated a decade of conservative rule, handing government to the unproven son of former Liberal Prime Minster Justin Trudeau; the defeat — whilst expected — was more savage than polls had suggested, and sees Justin Trudeau follow in his father’s footsteps at a time Western democracy has trended toward centrist liberalism.
It’s a quick piece from me this evening as I am in Brisbane — en route to the airport to return home — and more to mark the event than to delve into any deep analysis.
Another conservative leader has fallen today (Australian time) with the defeat of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in the general election in Canada; with results declared at about lunchtime our time, the Liberals — led by the son of former Prime Minster Pierre Trudeau — has won a clear majority in the House of Commons, with perhaps as many as 184 of the 338 seats up for grabs.
The defeated Conservatives fared badly, and worse than expected, winning a projected 99 seats with about 30% of the vote: a swing away from them of eight percentage points, with the consequent loss of almost half the seats they were defending.
The outcome is a stunning triumph for Trudeau Jr, whose party ran third at the previous election four years ago and was signposted by opinion polling just weeks ago to do so again; given he has never held ministerial office and comes from a tentative background as a supply teacher it would be unkind to suggest the new Prime Minister has surfed into office on his father’s name, but the conclusion is impossible not to draw.
I would share some comment from the mainstream press, replete with polling data, maps, and interactive figures, but can’t (and the fact I’m not should give potent notice of why I am about to replace my iPad with a Samsung tablet and banish the user-unfriendly, overrated Apple in favour of something that might actually be fit for the purpose it is bought for).
But I would like to note that one of the best of the present generation of world leaders has been lost; I will be the first to admit I have no idea what sort of government Harper ran on his own patch, but his voice in global affairs and in forums such as APEC and the G7 has added sage counsel and insight for many years, and this will be a loss to the rest of us as much as to those Canadians who voted to re-elect him.
The change comes at a time many Western countries are eschewing hard conservatism in favour of centrist, light liberal governance where the emphasis on personal freedom outweighs questions around the freedom and liberty of societies as wholes.
One would suggest Harper’s defeat at the hands of his own people reflects our own Tony Abbott’s demise at the hands of his own party; yet the centrist Trudeau will find much in common with Malcolm Turnbull, US President Barack Obama, Britain’s David Cameron, and Germany’s Angela Merkel — all (bar Obama) hailing from ostensibly conservative parties, but none of whom could be described as true Tories in the classic sense.
It can be funny how the world works and especially how the cycle turns in politics — locally as well as globally — but if there is to be any takeout from the Canadian result here, it probably augurs well for Malcolm Turnbull as he gears up to fight his first election as Prime Minister.
I will be back with something a little closer to home — and in a little more detail — in the next day or two.