8:17 p.m. ET Here in Ontario, television coverage of the federal election begins at 9 o’clock. The polls close at 9:30 p.m. Conditions therefore appear ideal for the onset of Much Pointless Speculation. Happily, there’s still time for me to pull up my Van-o-Clichés out front of CBC election HQ and sell off my remaining stock of “We’ll see soon enoughs” and “Time will tells.”
8:36 p.m. For the most part, I’ll be watching CBC coverage tonight. Why? Well, one reason is that I want to see if they’ll force Rex Murphy to read the emails again. They always seem to stick Rex behind a computer and give him the chore of sifting through viewer emails. He appears to enjoy the assignment the way foreign correspondents enjoy malaria. The other reason: because the polls all show a Conservative victory and I’m not sure I have the stomach to watch Mike Duffy tongue-kiss Bob Fife in celebration.
8:47 p.m. Reason No. 2,978,325,986 that Canada is Different From America: It’s barely more than an hour until the polls close right across the country. At the equivalent time in the United States, CNN would be entering its 43rd consecutive hour of live coverage. Paul Begala would be shirtless. James Carville would be eating the corpse of William Bennett. Wolf Blitzer would be describing as “historic” the fact that he hadn’t taken a whizz for a day and half. Whereas in Canada: CBC Newsworld is rerunning a segment from weeks ago analyzing Jack Layton’s moustache.
9:00 p.m. It’s here! It’s election night – the most exciting day on the Canadian political calendar, ranking just ahead of the one afternoon each year that CBC producers have Keith Boag immunized to prevent a sudden outbreak of insight.
9:04 p.m. “It’s been five weeks of sweaters and jackets and blouses…” Peter Mansbridge intones gravely. And one only leader has worn at least one of each. (Hint: it’s not Elizabeth May.)
9:13 p.m. The CBC set looks like a gigantic American game show. I can see Coyne sitting there in the background. He’s either going to opine in favour of prudent government spending or big money no whammies.
9:17 p.m. Vancouver Centre “has it all goin’ on” during this campaign, Susan Bonner says. As B.C. ridings go this compares favourably with Vancouver Quadra, which is merely “down with that,” and Okanagan-Shuswap, which is “a ho.”
9:28 p.m. Turns out Susan Ormiston has drawn shut-in duty and will have to endure the influx of viewer mail tonight. Rex Murphy has moved on up to a seat next to Rick Mercer, from which he will provide “astute” observations. Awesome – those are the best kind of observations!
9:30 p.m. The polls are now closed in Ontario, Quebec, the Prairies and Ezra Levant’s basement, where once again he’s been unanimously elected Emperor of the Alex P. Keaton Fan Club. Counters are counters. Scrutineers are scruntinizing. Some counters are scrutinizing, but only the dumb ones who don’t understand their jobs. I’m not allowed to type what the results are out east, but I will say this: I’m not allowed to type what the results are out east. Meantime, I’m getting jazzed – my favourite moment of election night approaches: It’s almost time for the Very Early Results! One poll is in, one candidate leads another five votes to three. Pundits: is it too soon to tell??
9:38 p.m. Elizabeth May is speaking before her supporters, none of which is dressed well enough to get into an Arby’s. (I’m just kidding Green people – I admire your commitment to the recycling of fashion and, to judge from that one guy, Isaac the bartender’s afro from 1978.)
9:47 p.m. Bless them, the CBC is not just showing Very Early Results, but what they themselves describe as Very, Very Early Results. Grab a screen shot of that result in Kenora, elderly Green party guy – gonna want to put that eight-vote lead into the scrapbook!
9:56 p.m. Flipped over to CTV just in time to catch David Smith, big-time Liberal campaign poobah, saying it might have been the Green Shift that doomed Stephane Dion. Let the Night of 1,000 Daggers begin! Don’t worry about going to the trouble of turning around, Mr. Dion. They’ll be happy to stab you in the front now.
10:01 p.m. It’s 10 o’clock Eastern, the polls are closed everywhere, and I can’t help but notice that it doesn’t appear to be going so — uh, what’s the word? — well for the Liberals. Yeah, that’s it. Well. I’m no electoral expert, but my take on it is that to pull this thing out, Stephane Dion’s going to need to win 50, maybe 60 seats in Yukon.
10:02 p.m. CBC projects a Conservative government. Not a minority or majority, just a Conservative government. Apparently they had to wait til 10 o’clock to get all the data into the Duh Desk.
10:03 p.m. Gerry Ritz has been re-elected. He’s just received a congratulatory call and a two-week booking from the manager of the downtown Ottawa Yuk-Yuks.
10:14 p.m. Sorry I disappeared there – had to get up from the couch o’ democracy to kill a bee with a magazine o’ death. Did I miss anything? Wait, Lloyd Robertson is kissing up to Sandra Buckler, so I guess not.
10:16 p.m. Maxime Bernier has been re-elected. He’s being interviewed right now on CTV by Craig Oliver. Bernier says he’s “ready to serve all Quebecers,” which I can only assume is some sort of saucy biker euphemism.
10:21 p.m. Allan Gregg is suggesting the Conservatives may still be able to get to 150 seats or so. Let’s go for it, Canada! Let’s get them close to a majority, but not quite give it to them. That way we could make a reality show out of Stephen Harper wooing over rival MPs as he did with David Emerson. Members of the Bloc Quebecois: there are 50 of you but I have only three red roses in my hand…
10:33 p.m. CBC says Justin Trudeau has a solid lead in his Papineau riding. Prepare yourself for a victory speech filled with beaucoup de dramatic pauses et E. Nun. Ci. A. Tion. Also: Michael Fortier, Stephen Harper’s least elected cabinet minister, is getting his ass handed to him by the Bloc. Democracy – surprisingly tricky.
10:39 p.m. CTV assures us there is a “full contignent of staff members” at the hotel with Stephen Harper. Good thing – they’ll need a full contingent to hoist that chip back up onto his shoulder.
10:41 p.m. When he and Lloyd finally make the movie, will Craig Oliver play the Jack Lemmon character or the Walter Matthau character? Just wondering.
10:43 p.m. Oliver explodes all over Lloyd Robertson: “It’s absolutely clear to me that Stephane Dion is finished as Liberal leader! If he tries to stay he’ll tear the Liberal party to pieces!” If I have my literary references correct, I believe Oliver is quoting from Machiavelli’s epic text: Opinions, Thoughts and Where the Hell’s My Pudding? It’s Three O’Clock and I Want My Pudding!!!
10:50 p.m. Best moment so far: Lloyd Robertson bringing on the loquacious Garth Turner, who went down to defeat, by warning him that “we’re on television” and “there are time constraints.” Ie. Cram a sock in it, beardy.
11:06 p.m. After more than an hour, Peter Mansbridge abruptly remembers that Rex Murphy and Rick Mercer have been sitting patiently, waiting to dispense wisdom and adjectives. Rex responds by immediately referring to Peter MacKay as “Elmer MacKay.” Rick, meanwhile, is apparently on hand not to be amusing but to provide insightful political analysis for some reason. Pardon me while I go slam the top of my TV like Homer Simpson and holler: “Be more funny!” Maybe it’s job-swap night at CBC. Coming up: open mic comedy with Andrew Coyne!!
11:12 p.m. CTV is interviewing Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff in split screen, from two different ridings in Toronto. It speaks to the power of their distaste for each other than Iggy is somehow able to whack Rae over the head with a lawn sign.
11:15 p.m. I know the Internet is resilient, but I’m not sure it has the power to survive these painful segments when some poor soul from the mainstream media is reduced to reading twitters and tweets and twirps and cockadoodle-doos from that special segment of the illiterate that prefers to communicate in seven-word bursts. Harper bad. Dion bad. Harper badder. No, Dion badderer. Me like eggs!!!!!
11:23 p.m. What is wrong with our media? I admit I’ve been flipping around a fair bit, but I have not heard a single quality joke at Maxime Bernier’s expense. In America, they would have had suspended the space-time continuum to be sure to fit in at least 20 minutes’ worth of sly jabs and innuendo. Same goes for Fortier. If only the CBC had Rick Mercer at their disposal to… oh, wait.
11:31 p.m. Don Newman arrives on the scene to “put everything in context.” And clearly he is the man to do it, because he’s managed to put every single one of his hairs into perfect context.
11:35 p.m. Hugh Segal says the new and larger Conservative caucus will be more “urbane.” The dictionary defines “urbane” as suave, courteous and refined in manner. You heard him, Kenney: time to tuck in that bolo tie!
11:40 p.m. Liberal strategist David Herle says it’s “inconceivable” that Dion will lead the Liberals into the next election. He points out that the Liberals attracted a lower popular vote tonight than at any time in their history. On the bright side for Dion, I remembered to PVR the new episodes of House and Fringe just now. (He can’t watch them, but he should find solace in the fact the night wasn’t a total writeoff.)
11:46 p.m. Gilles Duceppe takes the stage: “We live in a democracy,” he says, “and we are all winners.” I’m telling you: given his efforts in this campaign, given his sudden penchant for musing and philosophizing, Duceppe is two, maybe three years away from finally getting a saying onto the side of a Starbucks cup.
11:55 p.m. Peter Mansbridge: “Jack Layton is about to speak and we don’t want to miss that.” Finally – some comedy!
11:57 p.m. “My name is Jack Layton, and to put ordinary families first I ran for Prime Minister.” Worst. Opening Line. Ever. Jack says they gave it their best shot at winning power – but dammit all, he fell just 107 seats short!
11:59 p.m. I just counted and for those scoring at home, Layton uttered 21 words before saying “kitchen table.” I’d encourage everyone playing the “chug a beer when Jack Layton says kitchen table” game to chug a beer but I am reliably informed that all these people died three weeks ago.
12:02 a.m. Jack – apparently fuzzy on this whole ‘how democracy works’ thing – says he’s going to go to the House of Commons and put forth the New Democratic agenda for better health care, child care, pharmacare, home care, job care, hair care, Wookiee care, Care bears…
12:08 a.m. Dear 40th Parliament: We are really going to try to make you work this time, honey. Honestly. We completely mean it and are totally serious, girl. This time it’s going to be different. This time we’re going to give you the love and respect you deserve, baby. Yeah, that’s it – love and respect and cuddling. Sincerely, Every Politician. P.S. We’re going out drinking with the guys now. Don’t wait up.
12:20 a.m. Stephane Dion arrives to what I believe is a cover of the traditional ditty A Smattering of Applause.
12:23 a.m. Dion says he pledged to Stephen Harper his “full cooperation” in these difficult economic times. I’m pretty good at reading between the lines, but… did Stephane Dion just offer Stephen Harper a loan?
12:25 a.m. “Canadians have asked me to serve as Leader of the Opposition, and I accept it as an honour.” An honour? To be fair, Dion said that in French and the translator may not have been familiar with the English expression “booby prize.”
12:27 a.m. Not that I’m any expert or anything, but Dion’s speech seemed to me the address of a man who has absolutely no idea what his circumstances are and how weak a position he’s in. It was like watching the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but without the charisma.
12:29 a.m. On CBC, Susan Ormiston says the twitter crowd is angry and is totally speaking out about junk and stuff. I’m not sure how you measure tolerance, but Peter Mansbridge looks to be down to his last one of whatever it is.
12:34 a.m. Lowest voter turnout ever. Woooo! We did it! We set the record!!! Wooooooooooo!! In your face, 2004!
Hard to believe from the informative campaign literature above, but this man is actually losing. And he’s a Conservative MP… in Alberta!
12:46 a.m. Before removing his smile and placing it in a small box labelled Do Not Open Til 2011, Stephen Harper arrives to his victory party, shaking hands in a welcome line so long that he now technically qualifies as a monarch.
12:48 a.m. Imagine a conversation between Stephen Harper and potential U.S. president John McCain:
Steve: My friend, it’s a real pleasure to meet you.
John: The pleasure’s all mine, my friend.
Steve: That’s awfully friendly of you, my friend.
John: My friend, it’s you who are my friend, my friend.
Steve: My friend —
John: No, my friend. My friend, it’s true.
John: I’m uncomfortable around gays. You?
12:51 a.m. Wow! A rare public sighting of “Grandma Harper” – who took care of the Harper kids when she wasn’t tearing her broker a new one over the phone. The impoverished Grandma Harper is attired this evening in a gown made from solid oak by Barrels R Us.
1:00 a.m. Savvy. Stephen Harper manages to quote both the Bible and The Byrds simultaneously by reciting: “To everything [there is] a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Maybe this dude can build coalitions after all. Next step: bring in the rockers by weaving in the chorus from Sign of the Gypsy Queen.
1:06 a.m. Harper finishes his remarks, then leaps in fear as he is assaulted by… streamers. Celebratory streamers shot out of a cannon. All paper products in the area are immediately tasered by the RCMP.
1:10 a.m. I’m bored. This is boring. You’re boring me, TV. Good night, everyone. (Don’t eat that chocolate on your pillow until you make Trudeau taste it first, Mr. Dion.)