Op-ed by contributor Sebastian Barkovic
Now that the campaign is over I can finally take out my earplugs. Heck, I may even schedule an ear cleaning at the doctors since they were in for so long. After all the dog-whistle politics, fear mongering, and fact embellishing by the Conservatives, what else is a guy supposed to do to escape the eternal hell their campaign broadcasted? What was it? Oh yes, I remember—it was the longest federal election campaign since 1872, with a total of 78 days. In comparison, the average federal election campaign is about 45 days.
With my earplugs out, I can finally make sense of the ecstasy I went through. One of the most exciting times in a Poli major’s academic career is on election year. It was an interesting 78 days; every major party was leading the polls at some point. The roller coaster was all too real. August was the peak of my high—the NDP was in the lead, the weather was fantastic, and the Conservatives were behind. Could you ask for a better end to summer? Like Robert Frost wrote, “nothing gold can stay,” so, for purposes of this article, nothing orange can stay.
It was determined by the CBC pretty early in the evening of October 19 that Justin Trudeau had won a majority. Truthfully, I was hoping for a nail-biter. I wanted to watch some live political theatre, but by the time Atlantic Canada and Quebec were counted, the election was called. There was still some political theatrics, though. Every time Sheila was in the lead, cheers could be heard across campus, and anytime Mark was in the lead, “boos” could be heard. The two semi-proud Conservatives in the room cheered quietly to escape the scorn of judgmental glances thrown like razors at their hearts.
That night, and many days since, my friends, peers, and strangers have been asking me how I feel about the outcome of the election. Truth be told, I had no answer until recently. It took me a while to come up with a good one—maybe because I had to come to terms with the fact that my orange crush turned into an orange crash-and-burn. And a burn it was. They came out with approximately 50 per cent less seats, and Tom Mulcair was not going to be Prime Minister like I was sure he would be.
After much excruciating self-exploration I was finally given the answer I was looking for by my inner self. Depending who it was and how long they had to listen to me, I told them one of three things, or all three combined. My main point was how I stood with the position Mulcair took during the campaign; all he wanted was Harper out of office, and then the rest would fall in place. Second, I talk about how Justin ran a sunny campaign which I respected. I am not one to like smear campaigns—half of the time they are lies, and the other half of the time the facts are embellished. Third, and most important, it’s about the smaller picture as well as the bigger picture. By that, I mean Vancouver Island becoming an orange beacon of hope, with the exception of Saanich–Gulf Islands, which Elizabeth May deserves after, garnering 55 per cent of the popular vote; (that’s nearly triple her nearest opponent’s). But still, six out of seven voting districts on Vancouver Island elected an NDP MP.
Although I am still upset, I have to keep a few things in mind. First, our old buddy Stephen Harper, on his way out said, that voters are never wrong. Second, our new buddy Trudeau admitted the Liberal party had been on the losing side too. Third, our beloved buddy Jack Layton’s first election as leader of the NDP only won 19 seats. So, statistically, Mulcair did better on his first try. Vive l’orange. Naturally, I am looking forward to the next election in 2019; all we can hope is that the orange crash did little damage to the vessel. The hope is we can ride the orange wave to victory. For now, I will keep my eyes on Trudeau and maybe even send him a letter of congratulations. I will also add something about my friend Kapri having the biggest crush on him (she has a pin with his face on it).
Oh, and for you fellow New Democrats that need some inspiration after the gloomy backdrop of October 19 set over your skies, remember what Layton said: “Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.” It may take four years, or it may take eight. Until then, we need to fight the good fight, take heart in the smaller details of the election, and have the conviction to complete the orange prophecy entrusted in us.