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Thread: Early optimism deserts Canadian Liberals

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    Default Early optimism deserts Canadian Liberals

    Early optimism deserts Liberals
    Mark KennedyCanWest News Service
    Monday, January 23, 2006


    MONTREAL -- Prime Minister Paul
    Martin's Liberals watched nervously Monday night as the early results started pouring in for an election they had publicly predicted would be close -- but which they secretly feared could turn into a Conservative tidal wave that would crush them.

    Before long, their spirits were dashed. They had not won the election in a squeaker, as their leader had predicted just a day earlier. Their only consolation was that it had not been a huge defeat and that they would elect enough Liberal MPs to fight a minority Tory government and rebuild the party for the next election.

    "This is very clearly no sweeping mandate for Stephen Harper to change the country in the way that he has contemplated in the past," said Steven MacKinnon, national director of the Liberal party.

    "What we're looking at is a very close election result."

    Liberal Senator Francis Fox, a close adviser to Martin, described the election outcome as "a dramatic event in the life of a prime minister, and a dramatic event in the life of a party."

    "The desire for change was one of the trends that was felt across the country," said Fox. "Rightly or wrongly, the electorate felt that it was time for change and I guess you have to bow to the electorate in its desire for that."

    As the evening began, Liberal supporters at Martin's headquarters in LaSalle-Emard were glued to large television screens, where the first clues were emerging on whether the governing party would get a drubbing from voters thirsty for change.

    The initial signs came from Atlantic Canada, where the polls were the first to close. The news was good in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Not only was a Tory tidal wave averted, but the Liberals were essentially holding their own -- losing only one seat in Newfoundland, and another in New Brunswick.

    In the early going, the Liberals were elected or leading in 20 ridings, compared to the Tories, who were elected or leading in nine constituencies, and the NDP, who had elected candidates in three ridings.

    The bottom line, for the Liberals, was that a strong Conservative showing had been averted in Atlantic Canada.

    For the Liberals, all of the government's cabinet ministers from the east coast were re-elected. They included Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan, Public Works Minister Scott Brison, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency minister Joe McGuire and Indian Affairs Minister Andy Scott.

    As news of those victories emerged, Liberal officials wearing big smiles breezed through the large room -- an Italian banquet hall -- that served as Martin's election-night headquarters.

    But they also admitted that despite the early trend, much of their party's fate hinged on what voters would do in the country's two vote-rich provinces -- Ontario and Quebec.

    Once results from those provinces started cascading in, Liberals crossed their fingers and hoped for two things: that Quebecers, still furious with the Liberals over the sponsorship scandal and impressed by Harper, would not punish Martin's party for its past sins and that, in Ontario, a wide array of voters -- those who had been undecided, as well as loyal supporters of the NDP and Green party -- would accept Martin's last-ditch plea in the campaign to band together and vote Liberal to ensure Harper's path to victory was blocked.

    Early results from that region suggested a tight race, but within minutes, the trend went in the favour of the Tories, as they racked up more and more seats.

    When Global television and CTV News declared the Tories were on their way to a minority government, Liberals looked up at the TV screens and saw images of Conservatives cheering in Harper's headquarters in Calgary.

    By comparison, in Martin's headquarters, the mood was glum and Liberal loyalists quietly milled about the room. The only brief moments of applause occurred when it was announced some prominent Quebec cabinet ministers had been re-elected. Those ministers, who will now have to sit on the opposition benches, include Stephane Dion, Lucienne Robillard and Irwin Cotler. The Liberals' star candidate, former astronaut Marc Garneau, was defeated in his first outing as a politician.

    In Ontario, prominent Liberals who were re-elected include Ken Dryden, Belinda Stronach, Carolyn Bennett and Tony Valeri. Political newcomer Michael Ignatief, touted as a potential leadership contender, won his bid for election in a Toronto-area seat.

    In Saskatchewan, Ralph Goodale was re-elected.

    The pressure on Martin, 67, to succeed in this campaign was tremendous. He was chosen to lead his party in November 2003 in a leadership race that turned into a coronation. Martin was nearly defeated several months after that in an election, but only managed to turn things around in the final few days thanks to an aggressive attack strategy against Harper and by some fumbling by the Tories themselves.

    This time, the Liberals admitted, they were facing a bigger challenge. The Gomery report in early November had confirmed a elaborate scheme of kickbacks in which Liberals connected to the sponsorship program funneled taxpayers money into their own pockets and to the coffers of the Liberal party itself.

    CanWest News Service 2006

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Early optimism deserts Canadian Liberals

    ^^ Yeah, and still exonorated the government that was currently in place, yet nobody seems to remember THAT....because they're stupid.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Default Re: Early optimism deserts Canadian Liberals

    Jesus Bloody Murphy. I'm moving to Sweden. Who is with me?

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    Default Re: Early optimism deserts Canadian Liberals

    Bork Bork Bork!
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Default Re: Early optimism deserts Canadian Liberals

    The tickets are on me...






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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Early optimism deserts Canadian Liberals

    Sorry kid, we'll not leave this country to fundie neocon hands. If you'd like to live in a theocracy, you can always move to Saudi Arabia
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Default Re: Early optimism deserts Canadian Liberals

    "I'll move to Europe before I live under conservative religious rule. I find it abhorrent to my person, and myopic in scope."

    ^^^^^Hey, you are the one who said you would move. Or, you don't remember that? Can't google away?

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Early optimism deserts Canadian Liberals

    Right now we're not under Conservative religious rule, and it's highly doubtful that Harper will be able to inject any religious nonsense into secular politics given the incredibly tenuous government he has.

    He steps 1 foot out of line and the other 3 parties will come down on him like a ton of bibles.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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