Favourite political moment

1. Stephen Harper voted out of office 

2. Robert Falcon-Ouellette’s election 

3. Liberal majority in federal election 

 

By the time the federal Liberals had taken Ontario on Oct. 19, The Good Will Social Club was nearing capacity and getting rowdy. CBC’s election coverage was on screen, but Peter Mansbridge’s voice was drowned out by the timbre of those supposedly disengaged youths who had gathered to watch Stephen Harper fall from power. 

Given the revelry, The Good Will on election night may not have been a locus of nuanced political conversation, but its atmosphere of relief, togetherness and celebration was a welcome contrast to the fear mongering and hopelessness that had come to characterize Harper’s reign. 

Throughout his time as PM, Harper alienated reporters, dismissed environmental concerns, criminalized dissenters, demonized minorities, slashed public funding, muzzled federal scientists, denied that colonialism ever happened, and shut down Parliament to stay in power – all with a smug, apparent disregard for the Canadian public. 

Yet despite all this, despite public criticism from within his own party, and despite nation-wide strategic voting campaigns like Lead Now, Harper somehow still had a realistic shot at a fourth term during the final days of his campaign. 

The results were by no means unanimous, but in all, 11,979,164 Canadians showed up to vote for Anyone But Harper. 

He quietly stepped down as Conservative leader through the party’s president before taking the stage to admit defeat. 

“The disappointment you also feel is my responsibility and mine only,” he said, maintaining his autocratic posture till the end. 

Only time will tell whether Justin Trudeau can live up to the Obama-like hype surrounding his swearing-in, but what is certain is that Canadians were ready for change. 

If nothing else, anti-Harper sentiments brought millions of disenchanted Canadians together this election – and that’s what democracy is all about.

Published in Volume 70, Number 13 of The Uniter (December 3, 2015)

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