Back in the summer of 2016, I said (speaking as a Conservative partisan) that: “Our task in 2019 is far less daunting than the one the Liberals faced in 2013, 14 and 15. We need to convince ‘only’ about 1,000,000 voters to switch from Liberal to Conservative. Some of them, actually many of them, have voted for us in the past: they are the working family suburbanites, often “ethnic” Canadians who decided, in 2015, that it was time for a change … we need to give them a reason to change back. Some of them are young, urban Canadians whose can be persuaded to either stay home or to split their votes between the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP. We also need to hope that the NDP gets its act together and takes back some of the 1,000,000 ‘strategic votes’ that the Liberals took from them in 2015. Finally, we need to retain the loyalty of most of the over 5,500,000 Canadians who voted for us in 2015 … [and] … If we can win about 15 to 20 seats in “Old Canada,” (Atlantic Canada and Quebec) and energize voters in “New Canada” (Ontario and the West) then we can earn 170+ seats in the next election and give Canada a sound, responsible government again.“
To his credit, Andrew Scheer did win 14 seats in “Old Canada” ~ not enough but very close, he increased the CPC’s share of the overall popular vote (by 2.6%, nationally) and he increased the vote by CPC’s vote by 500,000 over 2015 and he “beat” Justin Trudeau, in the popular vote, by 200,000.
Voter turnout was down in 2019, almost 17.9 million Canadians voted ~ that’s 65.9%, the total vote is up, very slightly, from 17.6 million in 2015, but it is down in percentage terms by 2%+. But about 1 million voters abandoned Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and something approaching ¼ of them “swung” their votes from Liberal to Conservative.
Andrew Scheer failed to “win” the all-important suburban 905 belt around Toronto. There will be many analyses of the factors, and I will agree that disenchantment with Premier Doug Ford is one of them, but I think that the Conservatives (and I, too, I hasten to add) failed to understand that right now, in 2019, Greta Thunberg’s view on a “climate emergency” trumps concern about dumping raw sewage into our drinking water. In short, Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives did not “energize voters in “New Canada” (Ontario and the West)” as I suggested would be necessary. Don’t be fooled by the CPC gains in BC, the Greens and the NDP split the progressive vote and Conservatives “came up the middle” to win. He failed to “energize” New Canada voters in Ontario, I think, because he, his team (and I), failed to understand the depth of the climate change hysteria ~ I have, fairly often, compared the climate change movement ~ which is, I think, the right term to use ~ to the tragic 13th century children’s crusade. It didn’t matter that Andrew Scheer offered a comprehensive environmental policy with a wholly realistic plan to contribute to the global effort to combat climate change, many voters in key ‘New Canada‘ ridings demanded that he kneel to the goddesses of climate action. There may be another, new issue in 2021 or 2023, I don’t know … what does seem clear is that identifying the ‘flavour of the month‘ issue and jumping on board matters.
Now, about New Canada. I still agree that Professor Michael Bliss was right 20 years ago (link above): “The political culture of Old Canada is the culture of the government grant, the subsidy to business, the handout to the unemployed, the handout to your political friends. In Atlantic Canada and Quebec, politicians are proud to announce handouts, proud of the activities of HRDC, content to play the old patronage games … [but] … West of Quebec there is much more interest in generating growth by shrinking government, liberating individuals and the private sector, and learning how to be truly competitive in a rapidly changing world. The politics of handouts isn’t nearly as popular in areas of the country where fewer Canadians think they need them, where it’s no longer fashionable to tug the forelock to the well-fed local MP.” I think that’s what cost Ralph Goodale his seat. What made Professor Bliss’ analysis unique was where he drew the “fault line” ~ he included Ontario in New Canada, explicitly aligning it with the West.
It may seem that in 2015 and 2019 when the Liberals won ⅔ (80 and then 78) of Ontario’s 121 seats, that he was wrong, but that’s not so. While the West is bluer than it has (almost) ever been …
… The Liberals’ “holds” in Lower mainland BC and in the Greater Toronto area reflect social issues ~ including Premier Doug Ford’s apparent attitudes. There is no deeply ingrained reason why this …
… the outcome of the Ontario 2018 general election when the Conservatives won 76 of 124 seats cannot happen again. With the right policies and the right platform, and the right (moderate) leader the Conservatives can and should win 20 of BC’s 42 seats, 32 of Alberta’s 34 seats, 22 of SK & MB’s 28 seats and 78 of Ontario’s 121 seats, which equals 152 of New Canada‘s 228 seats. (I’ll concede the 3 seats in the territories). That means the Conservatives need to win just 20 of Old Canada‘s 110 seats.
What the CPC didn’t do was to shift the key, mostly Ontario, suburban ridings away from the Liberals. That is, I continue to maintain, the key to winning Canada. Greater Toronto has more seats than AB and SK combined.
Ethics was not the issue that I hoped it would be … that’s very sad, for Canada.
The country is, some pundits say, more divided than at any time since the Québec crises and referenda of 1965 to 1995. Will Western alienation last that long? Will it be a multi-generational thing? I hope not … but I am not confident. The divisions ~ ALL created by Justin Trudeau, himself, are deep and dangerous. Some people are guessing that he will have to do a deal with the Greens and the NDP but some analysts say that “NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh does not have the political capital to kill the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, say political pundits, especially given how many seats the NDP lost,” and pushing that pipeline through, albeit slowly, may just be enough to pacify the soft-separatists in Alberta and Saskatchewan (and in the BC interior?)
What the CPC didn’t do was to make a case that convinced enough Canadians that Justin Trudeau, this Justin Trudeau …
… and his team was ethically and intellectually unfit to govern. That was a major political failure for which Andrew Scheer and his campaign team must be held accountable.
Conservatives cannot blame the media or Gerald Butts for its failure to unseat Justin Trudeau. It must look inwards, at what it did not do or did not do well enough.