Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Did Canada set the stage?

Most Americans know very little about Canada, and nothing at all about its government and politics. Or that they had an election. But today Canadian voters denied a fourth term to their conservative government. We hope to do the same thing to New Zealand’s in a couple years.

The video above in from John Oliver, talking about the Canadian elections, and giving Americans more information than they’ve probably ever heard. It doesn’t surprise me that it comes from the British-born host of a US comedy show, since such shows seem to be the best way to get political information in the USA right now.

Oliver is sometimes a bit biting in his humour, something New Zealand has experienced a few times—and those times were, too, probably the only time that viewers ever heard anything about New Zealand politics; but, then, we’re not a neighbour of the USA (an aside: back in 1995 I was telling someone that I was moving to New Zealand, and the person thought it was a Canadian province…).

I loathed Stephen Harper, and for many of the reasons that Oliver mentions (and also for his war on science, his reprehensible policies on LGBT refugees, and so much more). I have no idea whether Justin Trudeau will be a good prime minister—but it’s hard to imagine he could possibly be any worse.

Here’s the thing. There was a time when the Conservative Party was down and out. It came back. Not so very long ago, the Liberal Party was in third place, and now they just won the election handily. Never count a party out.

This has implications for other countries. Democrats must win back seats in Congress and state legislatures, as well as governorships, if they are to have any hope of fixing the Republicans’ messes and disasters. Much of the media is writing off the Democrats’ chances—could they be wrong? Could the Democrats have successes beyond prediction, like the Liberals in Canada?

In New Zealand, pundits look at polls right now to declare that National is likely to win a fourth term in a couple years. Maybe—or, maybe we’ll be like Canada.

The point is, that increasingly pundits are the worst possible predictor of election results, constantly misreading the mood of voters and underestimating politicians and their parties. Canada has proven the folly in pundits being too certain of their own infallibility.

But it is still funny that we need comedians to tell it to us straight.

The photo below was posted on Facebook this evening by Andrew Little, Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, and Leader of the Opposition, who wrote: "Just posted this letter to Justin Trudeau, congratulating him on the result of the Canadian Election".


rogerogreen said...

Massively large turnout made the difference!

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yes, and as many have noted, Harper would never have been in office so long if Canada ditched the reprehnisible anti-democratic first past the post election system. Trudeau has pledged reform, maybe even proportional representation. This could get very exciting.