In 2011, the NDP’s “orange tide” whisked votes away from the Liberal Party, resulting in the opposite of what said voters were aiming for. The leader of the Conservative Party claimed 5,832,491 votes, 39.62% of the people who wanted their opinion to count. But it was Jack Layton’s surge in popularity that won Stephen Harper more power than he had ever experienced as a politician, a majority government.
This is explained by looking at where the votes came from, and as a zero-sum-game, the answer lies in the question “who lost votes”. Answer? The Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois.
A political landscape had previously existed in Canada since 2004 where there were only two parties that stood a realistic chance at gaining a seat at the head of the table: either the current Conservative or Liberal parties, with the Liberals taking on the role of main opposition to a Conservative minority government this entire time frame. A dynamic that meant the Liberals had a voice, and could legitimately pose problems to the Conservative party having their way wherever disagreement between the two parties existed. This time around, it is not about achieving another majority government for the Conservatives. The political landscape currently consists of a Liberal Party that has surged back into contention, and the NDP have only gained popularity in the polls (in fact are leading most at the moment) since the 2011 “orange tide”, resulting in a close three-way race between Trudeau, Mulcair and Harper.
Like in the 2011 election however, the Conservatives do not need to win, their opposition needs to lose. Rather than gain steam in this tight race, votes need to somehow be taken away from the NDP and/or Liberal party in order for Stephen Harper to remain a resident of 24 Sussex Dr.
Cue Elizabeth May. Although the notion of the Green Party is an absurd color in Canada’s political rainbow, they are the proud owner of a politician who is at times leaving her opponents in the dust as a speaker, be it during interviews or debates. Even during the Munk debate the other night, May made her voice heard, despite the absence of an invitation to do so. The question voters instinctively ask are then, is what she is saying true? Are her proposals realistic/feasible? Good for Canada? The admittedly biased opinion that is mine is of course not. But like the 2011 election, we have a new opposition on the scene in the form of the Green Party that will give Stephen Harper his fourth straight mandate, almost by accident.
September 9th 2015: Elizabeth May announces the Green Party of Canada’s proposal to make tuition free, and pardon current student debt. The illegitimacy of this notion really lies in the fact that tuition can’t be free; you can only make it the responsibility of others to pay for it. In essence Ms. May proposed nothing more than her idea to raise taxes, making those who have already had to pay for their own tuition, pay for the next generations tuition… and then the next… you get the picture. However, the absurdity of her idea is not the point, the point is that her announcement is going to work. She will gain steam in the election, she will obtain more votes for her party than ever before, and it will lead to Stephen Harper’s re-election.
The majority of university students occupy the 18-24 age category, an age group that prior to Elizabeth May’s announcement were going to vote for either Justin and legalized marijuana or Mulcair and a nice little pay increase in their minimum wage jobs. Now they are seeing Green, and the movement of votes that were making this a tight three-way competition will allow for the Conservatives to not pull ahead, but stay the course as the others fall behind, just as the “orange tide” in the last election took the wind out of the Liberal sails.