prime minister for the past nine years, Stephen Harper, led a charmed
life until the October 19 federal election. Despite never garnering more
than 39% of the vote (in the earlier minority parliaments he had only
34%), his rule was more like that of a dictator, with policies that
increasingly alarmed his followers until his support fell to 30% and
united the rest of voters against him, giving the Liberals a sweeping
For pro-Israeli, pro-war, anti-environment, anti-science, anti-culture types, he was perfect. But for people concerned about human rights, the environment, promoting the arts and maintaining Canada's reputation as a nation that promotes world peace, a haven for scientific development, he has been the worst prime minister in history.
Canadians finally woke up in alarm this summer, and the Liberals under the charismatic Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre Trudeau, produced a miracle, moving from third place with 19% to 37% in the final week, and on to 40% on Election Day.
The NDP "third way" followers jumped ship in the last week, horrified at the possibility of giving Harper another term in office. Despite stubborn resistance by their leader Thomas Mulcair, they did the sensible thing, individually opting to vote "strategically" in ridings where the liberal-socialist split might allow the Harperite candidates to slip in once again.
The devastation of the Harper decade is going to be very hard to reverse. It will be essential for the Liberals and NDPers (and let's not forget the plucky Green Party leader Elizabeth May) to work together in a "Battle of Britain" spirit to salvage something from the Harper legacy.
It was Canada's turn to join the UN Security Council in a rotating regional seat in 2010, but UN members snubbed Canada, acknowledging the affront on Kyoto and the outrageous pro-Israeli bias of the Conservatives. Almost overnight, Harper reduced Canada to at best a laughing stock, at worst an international pariah.
He was loathed by 65% of Canadians -- make that 70% as of election day -- not so much for these humiliations, but for his many domestic policies, which include gutting scientific research and social welfare programs, undermining environmental protection laws, massive vote rigging in the 2011 election, proroguing Parliament twice to avoid the need to call a new election, becoming the first prime minister ever to be found guilty of contempt of parliament.
In a cynical Islamophobic thrust as his re-election campaign tanked this summer, he trumpeted the dangers of letting Muslim women take the oath of citizenship wearing a niqab, which he later included in "barbaric cultural practices."
In Harper's favour
I wish I could say something positive in Harper's favour"
The 12% of Muslims who supported the Conservatives in 2011 fell to zero this time around. He didn't even bother responding to the Canadian-Muslim Vote's request for a Conservative message (the other political leaders complied).
Justin's intrepid band include 10 Muslims, the most in Canada's history, including the first Somali Canadian MP, Ahmed Hussen, and the first Afghan Canadian, Maryam Monsef. The Muslim Canadian MPs are all newcomers to politics with the exception of Omar Alghabra and Yasmin Ratansi.