The day after. A weight lifted. Change in the air, sharp as the snap of the sunny fall day it's born into. Congratulatory tweets, emails and messages from around the world warm my heart. I cross my doorstep into the first hours of a new Canada that will doubtless mix elements of the ex-internationalist-Canada-we-love with an energetic, future-focused domestic agenda. I'm savouring the moment, able to read news for the first time in a decade without getting tense, angry or digressing to the fate of humanity being held in balance by money-grubbing clowns and industry shills masquerading as leaders. Can I really dispose of the "Stephen Harper Shut the F$#k Up" T-shirt my then-12-year-old daughter gave me back in 2006? Oct. 20, 2015 is indeed a beautiful day. Even the sight of sad-sack conservatives licking well-deserved wounds in a rapidly shrinking corner of the Canadian mediascape seems, well... almost touching.
What malodorous news does emanate from the frontlines of the Tory retreat (akin, as that is, to a festering, long-plugged toilet finally being flushed) carries with it an additional whiff of self-examination. Conservatives, it seems, are wondering, "What went wrong?" Being Cons, adept at asking the wrong question due to warped and delusional frames of reference, as well as pathologically incapable of answering even their own simple posits without a directive from above, one can't expect them to figure it out anytime soon. So I'll answer for them: nothing. Nothing actually went wrong with the basic Tory script, which appears to have been lifted from Chapter 1 of that cancerous bestseller, Neoconservatism for Dummies.
Let's review: Harper calls an election, and, given public scrutiny of his jailed criminal robocall and illegal-electoral-spending compatriots, he still finds a way to surreptitiously tilt the playing field in his favour with a 78-day campaign, longest since 1872, over which an attention-span-challenged public is guaranteed to a) forget whatever happens at the Duffy trial, and b) lose interest. This will ensure the whole shebang comes down to three things that Cons understand how to manipulate: money, bullying and fear. So far so good. Next, cue the big blue election machine — running in high gear for, oh, nine years or so due to the Cons permanent-campaign, partisan style of governing — which easily does its job of raising obscene amounts of money from a lengthy list of selfish, narrow-minded, family-valued (their families) and/or fat-cat industry donors. Mounds of loonies are quickly and mercilessly meted out on the usual odious propaganda — attack ads built on vague, near-libelous untruths, misinformation campaigns, the hiring of a reviled mercenary spin doctor, and several racially divisive dead-cats thrown onto the table for public distraction... er, discussion. All business as usual as far as I can see, and executed perfectly. Certainly nothing went wrong with the clapping-seal rank and file conbots running for office, who staggered forth like the zombified automatons they are to parrot Party line! Party line! where and when they had to — opportunities, which, as usual, they scrupulously and conspicuously minimized. Absence is all part of the con allure.
But then... Just as everything was going so right for the Cons, something they'd always achieved with the insidious levers of character assassination (Stéphane Dion is not a leader; Michael Ignatieff is an interloper) simply didn't happen: their opponents didn't implode. Instead, equally competent, the two other major parties were soon locked in a battle to knock each other out. It wasn't the Tory plan, but they live for this kind of schismatic gravy. In the end, it was more pages torn from the NeoCon playbook, despite being expertly played, that opened the door: xenophobia, terrorism, and fear simply couldn't trump a relentlessly honest, optimistic, inclusive campaign by Justin Trudeau. And sticking to those guns had another effect, the kind that swept an orange tide into Quebec in 2011: a majority of voters finally saw the Cons, undistorted by spin and revealed for the shallow charlatans, anti-science prevaricators and visionless racists they were, and rejected them.
So nothing really went wrong. But everything else went right. When a one-trick pony lingers too long in the spotlight, the audience grows both weary of the trick, and painfully aware there's nothing else pending. Poor little Cons. They came this close to their goal of making Canada unrecognizable only to be turned back at the door of public perception for not having valid human ID.
The systemic malevolence of the Canadian Reformacon Alliance Party (CRAP) under Stephen Harper finally met its match. And now, ding dong the witch is dead. If, as promised, electoral reform comes to pass, Canada will never again elect a Conservative government unless it keens to more broadly held views and values, and a sustainable global future in both plan and policy. In other words, it will have to be progressive.
That alone is a victory.