Fire Away: Orange Crush

Friday, May 6, 2011

  • Canadian voters gave the NDP a total of 102 seats. How did Jack do it?

    Canadian voters gave the NDP a total of 102 seats. How did Jack do it?

Written by Stephanie Rennie

            Just days ago, party leaders across the spectrum vocalized the implausibility that the New Democratic Party was an actual contender in the federal election. Ignattief, Harper, and Duceppe all mocked Layton’s vision that the New Democratic Party was a potential choice for Canadians on Election Day. The prominent metaphor of blue and red doors, symbolizing the two supposed options for Canadian voters, was drawn by Ignattief and Harper as they completely dismissed the orange paint about to splatter the political scene.

            Now that the election date has past, nails have been bitten to their cores, tears shed, and victory or defeat has been celebrated or grieved, reflecting on such statements almost seems comical. Though the NDP evidently have not achieved enough votes to form government, the party made historically monumental progress in obtaining more than a hundred seats. The NDP surge in this recent federal election has challenged and dismantled the two party American style politics that Canada was moving towards. With the NDP as the official leader of the opposition for the first time in Canadian history, the question quickly arises: how did Jack do it?

            From day one of the campaign trail, I found Layton’s pace to be surprisingly slow. Much speculation filled the political airways regarding Jack’s well-being after enduring health issues prior to the election. Even during the televised election debate, remarks were made by all party leaders indicating that Layton would never become the Prime Minister, let alone gain the title of leader of the official opposition.

            The orange crush, as it is now referred to, swept swiftly across the province of Quebec during the end of the election campaign. Layton effectively flattered the voters in Quebec, both federalists and separatists, as he stole Duceppe’s ridings from beneath his feet. A majority of the NDP’s success is derived from the shift of Quebec’s support from the Bloc Quebecois to the New Democratic Party. The Bloc Quebecois are left with the remnants of the NDP’s surge as party leader Gilles Duceppe immediately resigned, leaving his career and party in shambles. Much of Layton’s success can be attributed to obtaining sixty seats from the province of Quebec, which was once monopolized by the Bloc.

            Quebecers, both for and against separation, expressed a desire for change. Jack Layton effectively captured the hearts of many uncertain voters by appealing to Quebecers in saying that he will represent Quebec’s desires in Ottawa. With a very strategic focus on the Quebec ridings during imperative weeks of the election, much of the NDP surge can be attributed to Layton sweeping seats from Duceppe.

            And of course, there is the student vote.

          During the final week of the election, I posted a poll asking users of thecannon.ca which party they were hoping to see form government on May 2nd.  I was surprised to see the results of the polls showed equal support of the Liberal, Green, and Conservative Parties. An even bigger shock was that twice as many Cannon users who completed the poll were hopeful to see an NDP government forming after Election Day.

            Prior to the election, Maclean’s Magazine released a poll demonstrating where the student vote lies. Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP were all within a twenty percent range of obtaining the student vote, leaving the remaining support for Bloc, Green and other parties. With the rise of demonstrations, vote mobs, and social networking, students vocalized their intentions to vote; for many, this meant a vote for the New Democratic Party.

            In the mock election Student Vote 2011, with half a million students participating, the NDP “won” a hundred and thirteen seats. This is not far off of the hundred and two seats the party actually obtained in the official federal election. Some of Layton’s support is found within the 18-24 year old population that actually cast their vote and checked the NDP box.

            Much of the New Democratic Party’s success lies with Quebecers and students that switched their votes, or voted at all. Imagery of a red and blue door has quickly been substituted by an oversized blue door, an orange door with a fresh coat of paint, and small mouse holes replacing the red and light blue parties that have been sized down as a result of Monday’s election. 

Stephanie Rennie is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Fire Away publishes every other Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question

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