Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The People have spoken!

Allelulia! It is over!

It's been an action packed few days. On Sunday we braved the cold to sing Harperman with Tony Turner, on Parliament Hill. It was a small but very enthusiastic crowd. Many were members of the public service who thanked Tony for his role as spokesperson for their issues. By Sunday, the polls were pointing to a Harper defeat so the mood was upbeat.

On Monday I worked in a swing riding. A week ago, polls indicated that the riding of Nepean was a neck and neck race between the Liberal and Conservative candidates so I volunteered to help out the Liberal on election day. For only seven measly hours I got a tiny taste of what the media has been talking about - that is, the incredible work that goes into winning an election. First, we dropped off ads on the doors of known Liberal supporters in the area. Then, after the polls opened, we picked up the bingo sheets, at each polling station. These sheets track who has voted in each poll. Those voter numbers are cross matched with lists of known Liberal supporters for each poll. That process is repeated each hour. Around dinner time the tactic shifts to actually knocking on the doors of the supporters who have not yet voted and offering them rides to the polls. When politicians say, "We need to get out the vote," they really mean it! This is not glamorous work. But this is how the Liberals won the election, through months of sheer hard work. (Liberal Chandra Arya did win in Nepean.)

Here in our riding of Ottawa Centre, our NDP member, Paul Dewar lost to Liberal Catherine McKenna. Voter turnout here in Ottawa Centre was a whopping 82%! Politics is such a tough game. Dewar was not part of the Harper government but he was swept out of his job on this strong Liberal wave. Dewar didn't do anything wrong. He is a very well respected MP and it's  a shame to lose him and many other strong NDP members. However, I won't complain today. McKenna ran a great campaign. I was very impressed with her at the all candidates debate.

Trudeau has performed so well over this long campaign. It is a treat to hear a politician speaking in an optimistic manner. Much of what he said yesterday and today reminds me of Jack Layton. Maybe that's a large reason why he won. People want something to hope for, something optimistic. Harper, on the other hand, in his speech last night, felt he had to tell us not once, but twice, that we are living in dangerous times. A total contrast to Trudeau's use of the Wilfred Laurier phrase "sunny ways."

This morning I had an email invite to the Trudeau rally, here at the Westin Hotel. It was a warm sunny day and we had planned to work in the garage. So there was the choice - clean the garage or witness the triumphal return to Ottawa of Justin Trudeau? As I wrote here, back in April of 2013, when Justin won the leadership, I am a nostalgic fool. As a grade ten student, in 1968, I went to the convention site when his father, Pierre won the leadership. We went downtown again in 2013 when Justin won his leadership. So today, I pinned on my 1968 Trudeau button and we headed downtown to hear Justin Trudeau's speech.

It really was exciting to be in that room again, this time with him as Prime Minister elect.

He spoke so enthusiastically, so hopefully, so warmly. What a refreshing change for all of us. I wish him and his family well in the days ahead.

This is the closest to Trudeaumania that we've seen, since Pierre!
Unfortunately Justin Trudeau will not be able to undo all the changes that Harper wreaked on our country. Some of those changes are permanent. The federal government is a big operation. It will take time to change directions in so many areas. So we'll have to be patient with our hopes for this new phase of life in Ottawa, in Canada.

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