So I won't sugar-coat it. The great Trojan Horse has finally made it past the gate, it has lumbered in and been celebrated and garlanded, and it is ready to unload its malicious oily cargo as its own cheerleaders retire for the night sated and inebriated. It's a credit to Canada that it took so many years of effort to roll it up that hill, despite all of the wealth and power propelling it.
But roll in it did.
Unfortunately, this moment was rather difficult to avoid. Stephen Harper and Co. had a near total lock on a huge block of seats the western parts of Canada. With that huge and consistent starting advantage, all they needed to do was keep trying to pick the lock of Canadian democracy; it was inevitable that with enough tries, the tumblers would all fall into place to give them a majority.
And there's the rub, the elephant in the room: the lock that the Cons/Reform has held on the West for what is now quite a long time, thwarted only by vote-splitting and an Ontario voting pattern that no longer exists. That was the problem with the strategic voting approach, leaving aside the issue of the unreliability of the Liberal Party leadership: for every voting strategy to keep them out of 155 ridings, there was always a feasible Reformatory counter-strategy to gain the MUCH smaller number of seats required for a majority government. Put that way, it's a miracle that it has taken so long. Canada as a whole has said DO NOT WANT repeatedly for a long time...until now.
So the real, lasting solution to the problem is obviously to break the lock that Reform has had on a large number of Western seats. But (obviously) that's easier said that done, because of the way that the underlying Great Animus that supports the Reform lock has been constructed. It was built from the remnant of a legitimate historical set of grievances against a certain elite in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal axis. Now in this world of interconnected finances, this elite is now entirely and intimately connected with the resource-extracting class of the West, and with that connection has been able to co-opt the grudge and turn this Great Animus against a strange holographic image of an "elite" that the hapless Liberal party has been all too eager to supply in recent times.
This was wonderful for the oil-and-finance elite that has been lately riding this Animus: every time the Reform/Cons movement was prevented from reaching maximum victory, it was easy to turn it into a rejection by the hologram-"elite" of the West Itself. This has fed back again and again into the Animus and the rest is history.
I just promised optimism, so here it is: with a Conservative majority government, progressives and the left-wing of Canada have an opportunity to deflate and redirect this Great Animus if they have any organization or wit to seize it. "Western Alienation" was manufactured from a substrate of real and justified feeling; it has manifested itself in a different way, but it has the same character and root as sovereigntist feeling in Quebec. And if the NDP can make progressive inroads into Quebec when it became clear that the BQ was no longer serving the regional interest it claimed to serve, so it should be if anything easier to seize the moment when it becomes clear that the Trojan Horse of Stephen Harper really doesn't solve the problems of the ordinary people of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and so on. That control over the energy-extraction wealth is illusory and is not going to make better lives for the public in those provinces.
That the full-throated majority rule of the warmed-over Reform movement is not at all what it was cracked up to be.
In the end, this will require not snooty counter-regionalism and not a polite wish for "reasoned debate", but for an unbridled and blunt populist truth-telling that the NDP can provide far more credibly than the recent Liberal Party can, or perhaps ever could. Now is the time to shove every victim of the Enormous Pit of Toxic Waste and every misappropriated dollar in the face of a public who might think that this is being done for their own good: it isn't. Now is the time to start saying, sarcastically, "Tell me: is this what you really wanted? Do you understand what is happening now?"
Because if the answer is "yes", well, then, at least we'll know the answer.