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EDITORIAL: A few solitudes

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer. — Carlos Osorio/Reuters file photo

Election 2019 leaves the country divided

When you sow divisiveness, you harvest division.

It’s a simple, straightforward result from a simple, straightforward equation.

And, after an election where sowing divisiveness was the order of the day for the two main parties, we’ve ended up with an unenviable result.

The unenviable result is not a minority government. We’ve had those before, and we’ll no doubt have them again. They are workable, after a fashion, because, having just come out of a bruising election, the chances are that no one’s in a huge rush to have another one.

No, the unenviable result is a return to the fragmentation of Parliament along regional lines.

Alberta and Saskatchewan elected almost 100 per cent Conservative members of Parliament (an NDP MP was elected in Edmonton), meaning it will be impossible for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals to even represent those two provinces in the federal cabinet.

The clear message is that, for the good of the country as a whole, change has to come.

The resurgent Bloc Québécois took 32 seats in Quebec, moving the party into third place in the House of Commons overall, but with a mandate that focuses on the interests of Quebec.

The federal Conservatives took in the most votes, with 6.15 million, (the Liberals took in 5.91 million) but ended up 36 seats behind the Liberals.

All in all, it’s a recipe for near-paralysis on the national level.

Plenty of voters — and sometimes whole regions and provinces — feel alienated. Still more voters appear to feel little more than disgust, talking on social media about coin-toss decisions not based on which party is the best for the country, but based on which one is the least worst.

The clear message is that, for the good of the country as a whole, change has to come.

We have to get away from seek-and-destroy tactics and dirty tricks in election campaigns. We have to find a practical way to heal the divisions the election has exacerbated.

And, fundamentally, we have to change the way votes are counted: first-past-the-post elections have created the situation where votes simply don’t count against regional strongholds.

The Liberals once promised to change our voting system, but shelved that plan when the election results in 2015 were so much in their favour.

We would be looking at a much different result if Justin Trudeau had lived up to his promise that 2015 would be the last federal election to use first-past-the-post to pick every MP.

The problem with making changes now?
A minority government of any stripe is in the weakest possible position to effect real and substantial change.

Regional strongholds often demand regional benefits in exchange for support. Smaller parties often do the same, asking for the bolstering of their issues in exchange for votes in the House of Commons.

The government agenda now should be to try and find common Canadian ground, and to heal the rifts the election has widened. The jury’s out on whether they will succeed.

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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