Election Panel at UBC

A lively panel was held at UBC on the federal elections. It was sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions. See the live blog for a blow-by-blow account. Here is a report from The Province:

The Province, 4 May 2011, p. A6.

Experts clash on Liberals’ future: Comeback kid or ‘toast’

By Ian Austin

Even the experts can’t agree on what Canada’s confounding election results mean.

At a panel discussion of University of B.C. political experts Tuesday, political scientists disagreed fundamentally on whether the Liberals’ dismal thirdplace showing means the death of the party or a potential for rebirth.

“I can quite easily see the Liberals winning the next election,” Prof. Fred Cutler told a surprised roomful of fascinated students.

“I can see the Liberal Party coming back with a bilingual leader who has credibility in Quebec and gaining 200 seats.

“The Liberal Party still got 20 per cent of the vote.”

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff resigned after the party was pummeled Monday night.

Regardless of who the Liberals choose as a new leader, Prof. Richard Johnston predicted the Liberal Party is finished.

“I think they are toast,” said Johnston. “I think the centre is extremely difficult to defend.”

The panel was somewhat astonished by the NDP’s strong showing in Quebec -but cautioned that the province tends to change on a dime from party to party.

“Quebec continues to be the great unknown,” said Prof. Ken Carty, who noted the party is just the latest to sweep Quebec, following the Bloc Quebecois, the Conservatives and the Liberals.

Cutler said Harper can’t stray too far to the right if he wants to be reelected, citing many close races in the Toronto area where MPs will be defeated if Harper moves too quickly and too far to the right.

The panel was split on how effective Green Leader Elizabeth May can be as her party’s only MP.

– Voter turnout Monday was 61.4 per cent, up from 58.8 per cent in 2008, when the Tories earned a minority win. In B.C., the 2011 turnout was 61.1 per cent, up from 60.1 per cent.


Photo credit: Ken Cameron

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