Canada’s 2015 Federal Election – First Past the Post is a Savage Place

Canada’s 2015 Federal Election just wrapped up. The Liberal Party received the largest number of popular votes – 39.5%. This gave them 54% of the seats in Parliament and a majority government. The Conservative  Party were 7.6% behind that with 31.9% of the popular vote, but it only gave them 29% of the seats. The NDP Party had 19.7% of the popular vote – 13% of the seats. Several other parties took the remaining seats.

If the ratio between percent of popular vote to seats won seems odd, it is because Canada uses a first-past-the-post voting system (FPTP). Some people complain about this system because the winning Party rarely receives 50% of the popular vote. The Liberals agree and have promised to change this ‘unfair’ system. Sober second thought might change their mind, as it is this system that usually delivers majority governments in Canada – which winning politicians prefer.

The Leader (Prime Minister) of a majority government often pays a heavy price for this power, though. In this election, as in may previous elections, approximately 60.5% of the voting population of Canada didn’t vote for the party in power. The scapegoat for discontent this election will be Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau, as it was for Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper after the last election.

The ‘young, good looking, nice hair’ Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau, is already seeing the first ‘hint of what is to come’ in the form of opinion commentaries.
– “The Trudeau manipulation: Behind the most image-conscious campaign in Canadian history.” (National Post).
– “He’ll have an asset in that people will look at him and they’ll have an initially favourable impression of him because he looks like an attractive guy… Beyond that, all bets are off.” Ottawa Citizen
– “The Conservative Party’s loss is to the detriment of its neighbors to the south and the world at large, since the Tory leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was defeated by the unprepared, gaffe-prone but well-coiffed son of a former prime minister, Justin Trudeau. Harper’s fate is all the more shocking when you consider how well Canada weathered the 2008-2009 financial crisis under his watch.” CNN
–  “Trudeau now bears the weight of impossible expectations that he himself largely created… In Trudeau’s case, it won’t be hard for him to keep his most prominent promise — to run a deficit for a few years. Spending more than you earn is always easy.” CBC News
– “Trudeau will be under a harsh spotlight as politicians and voters alike see if their gamble on a young, inexperienced media darling will play out in the policy arena.” TIME

The media attacks on Harper were sometimes so brutal that you could only wonder what kind of people say those kinds of things. It is one thing to disagree with the decisions of the politicians that are in power, but it is quite another thing to attack the personality of the leader with words that are full of hatred. When that kind of emotion is on a roll, facts and reason get trampled. This, to me, is the most disgusting aspect of our ‘always on and instant’ access to the written and spoken word.

Anyone with a keyboard and internet access can push out their opinion – an opinion that is rarely based on logic, research or balance. One self proclaimed ‘critic and journalist’ recently wrote, “I’m glad Justin Trudeau is Canada’s new leader, but only because Harper is gone. And Trudeau will certainly be a different kind of prime minister. He might even improve Canadians’ sense of who we can be: he is young and tattooed and bright-eyed, plus into pot and the very latest in hair cuts.”

Hopefully Trudeau will surpass the low expectations of his detractors, and be exceedingly brighter than some of the people who support him. If not, he is in for a rough ride.

Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened.
– Sir Winston Churchill –

13 thoughts on “Canada’s 2015 Federal Election – First Past the Post is a Savage Place

  1. As a Canadian, I was surprised that we ended up with a majority government, Liberal or Conservative. Given the projected political climate, I was really expecting a minority. I don’t know that this election was so much about Trudeau being the right man for the job as it was about the majority of the voting public wanting a change. Trudeau made a lot of promises. Now we’ll see if he comes through.

    And just as an aside… at the beginning of the campaign, there were a lot of comments about Justin Trudeau’s “great hair”. Did you notice that, as the campaign progressed, his handlers tamed his mane? LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Cheryl. I was expecting more of a three way split and a minority government. With a majority government, he will have a far better chance of making some changes, though I expect there will be certain realities that put the damper on some of his plans!


  2. This so much resonates of what happens in UK politics. We have the same first past the post system which often ends up delivering a majority government with a minority vote share. Strangely enough the last election delivered exactly that with the Conservative Government winning against all the odds with a big majority. That happened after five years of coalition with the Liberals. In the end the Liberals, the “junior partner”‘ paid the price. They were wiped out at the last election. They had their moment in the sun but they paid the price. Strand game politics. Thanks for the post. Am going to look for a pic of Trudeau and his hair.


    1. The upside to the FPTP voting system is that it often results in a majority government that is most likely to do what it promised to do. The downside is the same thing – do we really need them to do all the things they say they want to do?
      Personally, I would like to see less Federal Government and more responsibility given back to the politicians at the local levels.


  3. Methinks a lot of Canadians I know, didn’t like Harper’s style of management and leadership. If I was a young Conservative in the party I wouldn’t have liked his style in leadership.

    After living in Ontario for a few decades, then in Vancouver for 8 yrs., Albertan politics certainly have been very different and interesting. Marg: my partner was interviewed by the CBC here for his impressions about the new PM and newly elected govn’t: (fast forward video to approx. 13.xxxx after you get through some short commercials.

    Keep in mind, my partner spent his entire career with one of the major Canadian national oil firms before he retired. He understands well, interests and the lines of thinking within the industry and here in Alberta.


    1. ‘Style of management and leadership’ – personally, I don’t pay much attention to what the press says about style. What the party was able to achieve in their years in power, and my knowledge of my personal representative – that is what I think is important.


      1. My MP is Kent Hehr.

        Harper did pretty stupid thing by cancelling the long form census. Now we have insufficient data for last 10 years to help govn’t (all levels, federal, provincial and municipal + Canadian businesses plan and make good long term decisions. You need details. Otherwise the municipality and private sector has to spend lots of money on gathering data.). Good thing, it’s coming back.

        I agree time will tell, how this new govn’t will perform. But not interested in former PM who probably lost respect from a lot of inside Conservative backers. His final wk. photo op with the deposed former Mayor of Toronto, Ford, was a nail in his electoral coffin. A lot of Torontonians were embarrassed by the actions of oaf Ford when he was mayor. I know …because of having lived there, still visit (because of friends and family) and understand the tenor of Canada’s biggest and most diverse city.


        1. The short census form was sent to 100% of Canadians and was mandatory. The long-form was mandatory too and was sent to 1 in 5 Canadians, with the data extrapolated to the rest of the population. On June 28, 2010, the Harper government replaced the mandatory long-form census with a voluntary National Household Survey (NHS) with a sampling rate of one in three households.

          Do you agree that any Canadian who finds a long-form census on their doorstep in 2016 but fails to complete it should be fined as much as $500 and given a jail term of up to three months?


          1. They be given a reminder and deadline to finish it. Harsh to impose $500.00

            No, Marg. The breadth of statistical analysis not just on census every 5 years, but also statistical studies on matters at the national level related to crime, policing, certain industries, women in the workplace..this is also what Harper’s govn’t gutted in terms of staffing trained , etc.. Statistics Canada did other studies. One can see the paucity of studies at the Statistics Canada’s website for last decade.

            I know this as someone working professionally in research and providing info. to professionals involved in policy development, justice matters,..and business etc. over the course of my career. To be economically competitive, you have to know your markets domestically first, very well. Some of the services they provided, allowed different parties to buy that detailed, rich data. (their CANSIM series data is one example.)

            The response rate for 2011 short census was under 60%. Long form census was actually more. Govn’t was so ashamed of pathetic response in some areas of Canada, that the results were suppressed. That’s how bad and unreliable the data was from some parts of Canada.

            It is incredibly naïve for people to refuse to answer census questions…but ok. They get concerned about privacy. The data is anonymized.

            What I wouldn’t are private companies collecting data about me. No mandatory .legislated controls.


            1. This isn’t really about data being anonymized. It is about the rights of the people who supply the data, vs the perceived needs of the users of the data.

              “While the current census data are no doubt interesting for academics, economists and planners who wish to analyze social and economic trends, it is rife with intrusive questions that the government has no business forcing Canadians to answer.” Financial Post, Niels Veldhuis and Charles Lammam, July 2010

              “Representing perspectives of the largely silent group that produces this data, however, is another matter. You and I are the ones asked to fill out the forms. We are more vulnerable to data breaches and clearly have the most to gain or lose when decisions about the mandatory long-form census are finalized…

              Statistics Canada currently generates revenue from organizations and individuals wishing access to data repositories. A modern ethics protocol would require the corporation to be completely transparent, signalling potential conflicts of interest…

              Even the corporation’s own assurances about confidentiality grows increasingly tenuous as our ability to link new databases together affords a level of analytical granularity unimaginable in 1971.”
              Malcolm Cunningham, Institute of Cognitive Science, Carleton University


              1. Sure, I still as a choice would prefer to participate in government surveys vs. private sector.

                The anonyomizing of data collected via surveys from govn’t is more real.

                I’ve worked for…govn’t. So I’m biased: Ontario (provincial,include the courts), B.C. (legal aid. I did administer a public survey. We collected no personal info. We had responses from 200+ members of the public on their perceptions of legal information and their comprehension. ) and now Calgary .


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