If this choice is the ‘most important’, which was the least important? – Macleans.ca

This is, in the opinion (mainly) of politicians trying to get their voters to vote, the most important choice of our lives. To the boy who called the election, this moment is “perhaps the most important since 1945 and certainly in our lives.”

Voters seem to agree that this election is at least more important than the last, according to an Angus Reid Institute poll. found in August. However, the pollster noted, Canadians thought the same in 2019, as well as in 2015.

Federal elections are the hinge on which democracy and government pivot, each of which has a massive potential influence (for better or worse) over Canada’s trajectory, and offers significant political reforms. In the thick of a campaign, even the relatively boring ones seem to burst with intensity and possibility, leading to a myriad of hypothetical results.

But the rhetoric to hell, they can’t everybody it will be the most important election in history. What indications Maclean’s ask: What would the less important choice of our life?

To help us search for Canada’s less important elections, the dramatic failures and clashes that hardly qualify as plugs, we posed this question to some political historians and other veteran campaign watchers. There was only one election to get multiple votes from our experts, one that elected a new Prime Minister to begin with. But there were several potential candidates for this boring crown. And it was with some trepidation that our experts weighed in, as their careers have revolved around deciphering the fascination and significance of each and every election.

Here they are, from the fewest seat turns to the most:

1940: Another majority for the liberals of William Lyon Mackenzie King, up to six seats. Robert Manion’s “conservatives” stay flat.

Because it’s not important: “The result was not in doubt. Canada was at war and the Conservatives had no chance of winning, ”says Nelson Wiseman, emeritus professor of political science at the University of Toronto. With World War II underway and Canadians backing the three-time winner King, the Conservative leader did not even run under his own banner: Robert Manion temporarily changed his party’s name to “National Government” with the promise to lead a government. coalition. . He lost his own seat in northern Ontario, and King won with 179 of the 245 seats, a record-breaking Liberal result that followed nearly as good in 1935. The wartime government pressed on.

1965: A second minority of Lester B. Pearson, Liberals, goes up three seats. Tories was up 4, NDP was up 4, Social credit was down 19.

Because it’s not important: This may sound familiar today: Pearson dissolved Parliament two and a half years after beginning his term in hopes of obtaining a majority that he did not achieve, notes U of T’s Wiseman. Tommy Douglas’s NDP remained strong enough to prop up his government for another three years. “One consequence of the 1965 elections was the disappearance of John Diefenbaker as Conservative leader, but the election itself did not change the parliamentary dynamic,” he says. With that status quo in the House of Commons, the Pearson government passed major legislation like Medicare, even though it had promised major health care reform in 1963.

2000: A third majority for Jean Chretien’s Liberals, up to 11 seats. Canadian Alliance rises six, Bloc Québecois falls six.

Because it’s not important: Chrétien called snap elections, just three years into his term, to catch the new opposition leader, Stockwell Day, off guard. It worked to predictable effect. There may have been memorable moments of the Day like him wielding a “No Two-Tier Medical Care” sign during the debate. But the headline was unforgettable. “Chretien was nothing surprising, deliberately, with no greater ambition than getting ahead,” says Susan Riley, a veteran political columnist who previously worked at the Ottawa Citizen. Once again, it looked more like an opposition fight amid a split between conservative parties and Quebec nationalists who were skating on their own. “During the Chretien decade, it often felt like the country was on cruise control and the elections were just brief interruptions,” says Riley.

2008: A second minority for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, up 16 seats, Liberals down 18 seats, Bloc up one, NDP up seven.

Because it’s not important: For Harper, these were Pearson’s 1965 nuances, Wiseman says. “In both cases, the prime ministers (Pearson and Harper respectively) led minority governments. They dissolved Parliament in search of the majority. In both cases, they failed ”. Most of the excitement came after the elections, with Liberal leader Stephane Dion bidding to improvise a coalition with the NDP and the support of the Bloc. But that attempt failed and the Conservatives continued apace.

1953: A fourth consecutive majority for Liberals under Louis St. Laurent. Liberals fell 22 seats, Progressive Conservatives rose 10, the Commonwealth Cooperative Federation (CCF) rose 10.

Because it’s not important: The same result, again. “That wasn’t even a contest,” says Ken Carty, former chair of Canadian studies at the University of British Columbia and 2015 author. Big Top Politics: The Liberal Party’s Long Dominance in Public Life in Canada. “It just reconfirmed the Libs’ long-recognized position as Canada’s natural governing party. ”The Socialists won seats, but their popular vote dwindled, suggesting that they would not become a postwar force, Carty argues. A point that may please contemporary ears: “It was a summer election, perhaps not the best time to move Canadians.”

1979: Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals Defeated; Joe Clark’s Tories win, up to 38 seats. Liberals down 19, the NDP up 9.

Because it’s not important: First, why was it supposed to matter. This was a game-changer choice, with Clark’s young Tories asking Canadians, “Do you want four more years like the last 11 (under Trudeau)?” recalls veteran pollster and consultant Allan Gregg. This was the same time that Margaret Thatcher rose up in Britain, and Ronald Reagan was about to break into the White House; It seemed like the right time for Clark to become a major player in the new conservative decade. But it did not. “Nine months later, after ‘ruling as if we had a majority,’ the Clark government was defeated first in the House and then in the elections, and it was as if nothing had happened,” says Gregg, with some pain: 1979 They were the first elections he participated in.

There was some agreement about the relative unimportance of Clark’s choice to history. “Before anyone could blink, Pierre Trudeau was back, unpunished and obviously uninterested in the job,” says Riley.

Constitutional talks resumed from the Liberals’ previous tenure, as did Trudeau’s style of budget management, says Penny Bryden, a history professor at the University of Victoria. “None of the innovations Clark proposed actually ended up being implemented or making a difference.”

But, Bryden adds, 1979 offered everyone disillusioned with Prime Minister Trudeau a chance to vote on his displeasure, even if the results did not hold up. He struggled with this exercise. “The problem is that I worry about politics, so I cannot think of an election that was not important to allow people to make a decision about the government,” he says.

To some Canadians, every election may seem unimportant, Bryden explains: “Just the change from one white man to another, a set of ideas that inevitably benefit one elite from another.” But all of them changed government or had key political positions in which they fought or claimed responsibility. Although 1979 was her initial choice, Bryden was ultimately stumped. “Even if the timing of these elections is questionable, once you’re in the middle of one, it becomes important.”

So whether the 2021 contest brings a new Prime Minister or not, it can be considered a very important choice. Or an irrelevant one. You might ask us in 20 years.


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