It’s a Wave of Orange

Wow. Just, wow. To be honest, I never thought I would be saying this, but holy crap, Canada’s New Democrats are now the official opposition party in Canada with 103 seats in the House of Commons.

Jack Layton at Montreal campaign stop

Going into this election, things were looking really good for the NDP, and, well, less good for the Bloc Quebecois and the Liberals… but I was doubtful that something this huge would happen. Maybe it was me treading cautiously, but either way, I am happy to report that Jack Layton has a power house group of candidates that will be joining him in Ottawa.

I am even happier that I got to be in Montreal the weekend before the election and for the day itself, spending time with some friends. . Being an NDP-obsessed American for a while now, I was excited to be a part of it in any way possible. And then, to be in Montreal, the heart of Quebec, where the NDP went from having 1 seat in the HOC to having 58.. just…WOW.

Knowing that Jack Layton was just in town a week previous, I knew I wasn’t going to get to see the strength behind the pending wave, but then we were informed of Jack’s decision to have a final campaign stop in Montreal… in the riding where I was spending most of my time. Yesss.

So Sunday morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn to hear Jack speak before heading back to Toronto. And, although I barely understood any of it (it was about 90% French) the passion took me over. The strength and sense of leadership that are part of Jack’s aura were very much visible when he hopped off the bright orange bus.

Then on election day, as the waiting game went on, my nerves were everywhere. Sure the final polls still showed the NDP way up. Sure they got some huge last minute newspaper endorsements. Sure the main Quebec opponents, the Bloc, were sinking fast

Gabe and me with some NDP friends outside the victory party.

present at their office. But still, my nerves were very much alive. Then, as the day was ending and we were driving to the victory party, the news started rolling in. Pickups in Atlantic Canada. A complete expected sweep of seats in Quebec. Gains in Ontario.

What? No way. Over 100 seats predicted?!

After arriving to the party, and barely being able to squeeze into the packed Rialto Theatre, the news got even crazier. Elizabeth Maye of the Green Party was successful in her win, claiming a seat for them for the first time in history, our candidate was beating Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe by huge margins, and Michael Ignatieff of the Liberals was also expected to lose. Wow.

Then the heart burn. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were expected to have a clear majority.

And even now, as hard as that is to digest, no one can point fingers at my friends at the NDP. They did their job protecting against a Harper majority. Other parties may have taken voters for granted, underestimated the power of the youth vote, or maybe they were blindsided. But either way, it is time to celebrate the NDP and all that they were able to do. the future looks great for them, so long as all of the new members quickly learn the ropes. I am so glad I got to be some remote part of it!

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