Duncan Cameron: 'Happy campaigner' Trudeau makes it Black Monday for the NDP

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Early election results from Atlantic Canada told the story of the 42nd Canadian election. All 32 seats in the region went Liberal. Even NDP star Megan Leslie lost handily.

The ballot question was who should replace Stephen Harper. On Monday October 19 voters said Justin Trudeau and gave his party a majority.

Harper resigned as Conservative Party leader by press release and made no reference to his leaving in his concession speech.

With 99.4 percent of results reported (3 a.m. EST) the Liberals had gained 39.5 percent of the vote and 184 (or 54.5 percent) of the 338 seats in the new parliament. The Conservatives trailed with 99 seats and 31.9 percent of the vote.

In the rush for change, Ontario elected 80 Liberals, up from 13 at dissolution of the House, and threw out 36 Conservatives while handing the NDP a loss of 11 seats.

The good news for social movement campaigns like Go Vote run by the Council of Canadians was higher voter turnout heading to 68 percent (or more as newly registered voters are added) up from 61 percent in 2011.

It was Black Monday for the NDP who went from the Official Opposition to third-party status; from winning 102 seats in 2011, to holding 44 last night.

The party flopped in Toronto gaining only 13.4 percent of the vote, and no seats, a worse performance than in Edmonton where the NDP got 16.2 percent of the vote, and one seat.

In Quebec the NDP fell from 59 elected in 2011 to 16, while the Liberals won 40 seats (or 51.3 percent) in their historic stronghold, with 35.6 percent of the vote.

The BQ refused to play dead, won 19.4 percent of the vote, and 10 seats, while the Conservatives made gains climbing from five to 12 seats. Vote splitting with the BQ sealed NDP fortunes outside Montreal.

On the prairies Liberals broke through in Alberta with four seats. The NDP climbed back in Saskatchewan winning three seats and in Regina Steelworker staffer Erin Weir won a close race.

British Columbia took 11 seats away from Stephen Harper, and the Liberals went from two seats to 18. The NDP won all but one seat on Vancouver Island, and overall came third in popular vote (at 26 percent, behind Cons at 30 and Libs at 35) but second in seats with 14.

In this election about 70 per cent of Canadians went looking for a change in government. Underestimated as an opponent, subject of attack ads by the Conservatives since his selection as party leader, the Trudeau personality dominated the 2015 election.

Justin Trudeau was a happy campaigner. Unlike his father, noted for his reluctance to press the flesh, Justin loves to perform before a crowd, and work the room.

One month ago, arriving by bus for the Globe Debate on the Economy on the Calgary Stampede Grounds, the three leaders showed their campaign style. Stephen Harper was preceded out the door by security guards, and raced down the steps and into the building without a glance at the assembled media.

Tom Mulcair and his wife smiling widely, came out of the bus, stopped to say hello and wave to the media, allowing for photos, acting prime ministerial or even vice-regal.

Meanwhile Justin Trudeau had his bus stop near a group of supporters, jumped out to shake hands, and then headed on foot 100 metres, gesturing to the crowd to follow him to the auditorium door, waving and shouting all the way, with a throng running trying to catch up to him.

Was it youth, and a fresh attitude that explained his success? Trudeau had celebrity appeal, and it grabbed voter attention. On the campaign trail, the personality contrast between Trudeau and the two other main leaders was enough to push him ahead.

Most people will remember October 19 as the day Stephen Harper lost an election after 10 years as prime minister. It was also a happy day for pipeline promoters, trade pact enthusiasts, big business, and big media. The outs became the ins, but the policy outlook remains the same.

Public sector unions have to beware the private-public partnership deals are on the way. Child care advocates start over, as do campaigners for Canada pension reform.

Coming together to push Members of Parliament to open up to participatory democracy is a challenge that must be taken up by activists across Canada. No real change will occur with out it.   

Duncan Cameron is the president of rabble.ca and writes a weekly column on politics and current affairs.

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Image: Flickr/Justin Trudeau

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