The following things happened.
1. The Liberals forgot to show up
This goes farther than "Mike Ignatieff is a lousy leader," unfortunately. This was a full-on, full-team failure: no coherent, nationwide punchy message; old-guarders like Volpe not being able to distinguish themselves anymore; lustres off high-profile incumbents like Dryden and Garneau wore off.
2. The NDP split the centre-left vote
Nobody wanted to admit it today, but this totally happened, and I have the half-assed graphs to prove it.
This is what happened in a lot of ridings, especially in Ontario, last time around: Libs won a lot of narrow victories (e.g. quite a few in the 905), often over Conservatives, with an NDP a distant third.
Possibly because of the reasons outlined in (1) above, some Libs on the Right of the party flipped blue, whereas considerably more on the Left flipped orange; I must admit I was thinking of joining the latter, as I usually paint myself as "my heart is orange but my head is red."
In the case of Don Valley West, where I live, it was much more a case of the Lib, Rob "The Rev" Oliphant, holding his ground and the Con, John "The Car Salesman" Carmichael picking up votes. Czech this shizz out:
Erection Lib Votes Con VotesOliphant held on to his constituents, pretty much exactly. Carmichael, on the other hand, picked up over 3000 votes... but from where? In this riding, it'd be easy enough to say, "Well, all the rich folk, they told their butlers, Jeeves, instead of throwing another wad of Bordens on the fire, chauffeur me to the voting station, I want to mark an X for the Conservative fellow" — but there's more. Much more. And it's compelling.
2008 22,212 19,441
2011 22,353 22,992
DVW is a bizarre place: it has the highest average income of any riding in Canada, but it also has a shit-ton of new (presumably not so well off) immigrants in Thorncliffe Park, and a lot of them are from places like Pakistan and India.
DISCLAIMER: I fucking love Muslims. I teach a hell of a lot of them, and they're a stand-up bunch. I'm fortunate to count some amongst my close friends.
However... the conservative ones (i.e., religious, not politically) can get pretty touchy about the Queers, and Oliphant is gay (and married). A website aimed at the GTA Muslim community, themuslim.ca, all-but-trumpeted this fact in an op-ed piece in mid-April. As a result, FATMA (the Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park Muslim Association) endorsed Carmichael because of his "family values" — never actually coming out and saying "we can't support the gay dude," but c'mon now, I'm not stupid.
This was all much easier to do after the mayoral election last fall, when conservative religious folks of many different stripes — including a crapload from immigrant-heavy places like Rexdale and Scarborough — were vigorously pushed away from George Smitherman (another gay dude) and towards Rob Ford (who is pretty anti-gay, to say the least). All Carmichael had to do was to bring this up to the major religious group in DVW, who'd always voted Liberal because of the legacy of the Trudeau era and its opening of the immigration doors decades, and the riding was his for the taking.
(I'm curious to know how many of those votes Carmichael picked up were from recent-citizenship Muslims, and/or active members of FATMA.)
3. Canadians just don't fucking care about crazy shit Harper pulled
Helena Guergis in Simcoe-Grey got booted out of the Conservative Caucus last year because of reasons Harper wouldn't acknowledge. Well, a few weeks ago, Guergis finally got her Access To Information information, and whadda ya know, it was full of lurid stories about doing coke off strippers' tits with her husband, former Con MP Rahim Jaffer. Mind you, none of it was actually proven — the P.I. who did the snooping said he had no actual, y'know, "evidence" of it — but my sources tell me Harper had it in for Guergis for years, and used this to boot her out.
Bev Oda in Durham slipped the word "not" into a policy document which stripped a prominent foreign aid organization, KAIROS, of tens of thousands of dollars. First she said she didn't know who added the word, then after a year of lying she came out and said, well, gosh, I guess it was me that told staff at CIDA to hand-write that little 3-letter word in there. The result: a historic Contempt of Parliament charge, which led to this whole election after a confidence vote.
And then there's all the stuff Steve himself has pulled off: muzzling the Cabinet, forcing all communications through the PMO, the infamous 5-Question Limit, ending of the media scrums in the lobby of the Parliament Buildings, silencing scientists that don't toe the party line, and the list goes on. As I said to my friends on Facebook the weekend before the election, if you vote Conservative, you are saying all of this is okay. Well, I guess Canadians don't mind getting dryly fucked up the democratic ass. I know I prefer lube.
(Actually, I sorta prefer, y'know, not getting fucked up the ass.)
* * * * *
I never thought I'd say this, but I think I'm going to stop following Canadian politics for a while. It's just too insane. I'm going to turn back to following American politics for a break.