The debate rages on: Canada as a conservative nation

Canadians are smug responds to my post on the Canadian right’s propensity to imagine support:

The Crazed Monkey disagrees with me that Canada is a conservative country. Sadly for monkeys, numbers don’t lie. If you look at the 1997 election, the percentage of popular vote cast for the Alliance and PC parties combined slightly edges the Liberal party. Again in 2000, the combined conservative count is only a couple of points shy of the Liberals.

First off, I’d like to credit my colleague for basing his argument on the results of prior elections, which are certainly better representative of public opinion than poll results. Here is a summary of the results, ignoring fringe parties and including results from previous years:

Year BQ Liberal NDP PC Reform/CA
1974 - 43.2 15.4 35.4 -
1979 - 40.1 17.9 35.9 -
1980 - 44.3 18.8 32.5 -
1984 - 28.0 18.8 50.0 -
1988 - 32.0 20.4 42.9 -
1993 13.5 41.3 6.9 16.0 18.7
1997 10.7 38.5 11.0 18.8 19.4
2000 10.7 40.8 8.5 12.2 25.5

One can quickly see that Smug Canadian is slightly off in his totals. The combined support of the PC and Reform/Canadian Alliance is 0.2% percentage points less than the Liberals in 1997 and a few percentage points less in 2000. For all intents and purposes, they are equal. Despite this, our friend still claims that we are a conservative nation. Yet he fails to consider the NDP, and an indeterminate number of BQ votes which would fall left of centre. With these, small-l liberal support rises above the 50% line. Looking back at the results of previous elections, one can see that the mood in Canada has been predominantly left-wing since 1974 (I grew weary of transcribing data from the Political Database of the Americas), save for in the 1984 election. Using political party support as a basis for political ideology, it should be clear that Canada has been and continues to be a liberal nation.

What is amazing about our electoral system, of course, is the disparity between the votes cast for a party and the amount of the legislature it controls

Ah yes, Canadian political reform. I’m surprised that my colleague seems to endorse this idea. If the popular vote dictated control of the House, the Liberals would have won the 1979 election. Furthermore, the left, consisting of the Liberals and the NDP, would have had control of the house for the past 40 years (yes, as far back as the early 60s), excluding 1984. A nightmare as far as my friend is probably concerned.

Considering the media situation in Canada, it’s incredible that anyone votes conservative at all; in the last election the Alliance was demonized for justly criticizing a corrupt government.

Naturally, blame the media. When the left tries to use this argument, they are accused of underestimating the public and labelling them as unreasoning sheep who only think what they’re told to. It isn’t all that difficult to be an informed voter, rise above the rabble of the media and filter out opinion and bias from news. For House debates, the Hansard and the Parliamentary channel do not lie. These days, political parties have their own websites which they can use to provide an unfiltered message to the public. During elections, there are paid political broadcasts. The point is, there is no end of resources for voters to make an informed vote come election time. Blaming the media is no excuse.

I still stand by my assumption that Canada is not a conservative country as Smug Canadian claims. As our friend says, “Sadly for monkeys, numbers don’t lie.”

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