The Night of 1,000 Delusions

Layton imagined Harper would be psyched to meet with him to discuss NDP priorities. It was adorable.

The Night of 1,000 Delusions

Adrien Veczan/Reuters

The most surreal moment of election night 2011 took form as it became apparent to one and all that Jack Layton, leader of the Opposition, had lost his mind.

It’s well and good to celebrate a historic surge in one’s popular support. A wide smile and a jubilant bit of cane-waving are undoubtedly in order. But a few lines into Layton’s speech, a nation gaped as it grew clear the NDP leader had mistaken his moral victory for, you know, an actual victory. He seemed to labour under the impression that he would hold sway in the next Parliament. Indeed, Layton went so far as to imagine that Stephen Harper would be psyched to meet with him to discuss NDP priorities.

It was kind of adorable, like a kitten pawing at a vacuum. One envisioned Layton’s aides whispering between themselves:

—Should we tell him?

—Nah, it’s cute. We’ll put it on YouTube and call it “I Can Haz Influence?”

All campaign long, Layton had ended his speeches by vowing theatrically that, as prime minister, he. Would not. Stop. Untiltheworkisdone. He stuck to this rhetoric on election night. But the Opposition leader doesn’t get to do the work. At best, he gets first dibs on criticizing the work. With more than a hundred seats in a Conservative majority, Jack Layton has never been so undeniably relevant—and so utterly inconsequential.

Layton’s wild imaginings were merely the evening’s most flamboyant. The Night of 1,000 Delusions had gained momentum only a few minutes earlier, when Elizabeth May of the Green party ventured a curious interpretation of her own election to Parliament. “Today we proved that Canadians want change in politics,” she told supporters.

Is that what we proved? Because when the governing party wins a third straight election, and does so with a strengthened mandate, some of us are tempted to resort to the familiar Latin of status quo. Although to be fair to May, her party did attract 40 per cent fewer votes nationally this time—so that was change of a sort.

More oddly, given her moment in the spotlight, May behaved in the manner of an actress being handed a shiny prize—she recited a list of thank yous and cracked some inside jokes, instead of seizing the moment to make her case and build her following. One sensed an end, not a beginning.

The night before our election, President Barack Obama had made his dramatic announcement from the White House. Come May 2, therefore, Osama bin Laden was, depending on one’s beliefs, either burning in hell or being confronted by 72 virgins. Either way, he had a long night ahead—though perhaps not as long as that which awaited Michael Ignatieff. Casting their votes, traditional Liberal supporters heeded his call to “rise up,” but only so they’d be on their feet to wander over to the Conservatives or NDP.

The Liberal leader began the campaign as a target. He ended it as an afterthought. Having attracted fewer than one in five votes nationally to the Liberal side, and having lost his own seat, Ignatieff somehow marshalled the words required to issue an empty vow to carry on as leader. The small crowd did him the favour of pretending that made a lick of sense. He resigned the next morning.

Who would be the smart choice to replace Ignatieff? Justin Trudeau, according to some. Dominic LeBlanc, according to others. Bob Rae, according to Bob Rae. For the Liberal party, potential leadership candidates are plentiful—it’s followers who are in short supply.

As Ignatieff showed, the stress of the campaign can sap the faculties. Not even Harper was immune. The Conservative leader was so boggled on election night that he gave a speech in which he portrayed himself as gracious and inclusive. One assumes he later rallied his senses.

A Conservative majority gives Harper licence to stop acting like a little bully and start acting like a big bully. But perhaps he will make more of his opportunity. Perhaps freed of the need to be eternally combative, paranoid and, yes, dickish, he will indeed “govern for all Canadians.”

He said he would. And he said he’d govern with hope. And maybe he even meant it as he said it. On this Night of 1,000 Delusions, it helped to imagine that at least one thing we saw and heard was real.




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The Night of 1,000 Delusions

  1. I had to double check the byline. This is Feschuck?
    He puts away his rapier in favour of subtle digs and approaches the subject analytically. It's nice to see him in other guises than satirist. I like it for a change.

  2. Could being "confronted" by 72 virgins be considered as another sort of hell?

  3. Scott: This article may be your finest work yet…keep it coming….

  4. “Today we proved that Canadians want change in politics.”

    Yes, I believe we did prove it. Just look at the percentages of support for each party across Canada. The electoral system is rigged in such a way that the genuine vote is skewed. You have to live next to people who vote the same as you, otherwise your vote is thrown away. The Greens rightfully earned 12 seats, according to the total number of votes they received nationwide.

    • Did you miss the part where he said:

      "Although to be fair to May, her party did attract 40 per cent fewer votes nationally this time—so that was change of a sort."

      Elizabeth May, for all her intelligence and erudition, has become a contempible narcissist who will be the ruination of her nascent party. She will jump ship to the next federal governing party that offers her the Environment portfolio.

  5. One thing is for certain is that the world changed.

    Bin Laden – Poor virgins
    Quebec NDP caucus – Poor virgins, Mr Harper thinks you are scrumptious.
    Jack Layton – Hahahahaha, maybe there is enough brainpower left in the Liberal power to hang back on those merger talks long enough to watch this character fizzle under the Con majority. Is he the last Canadian to realize he is irrelevant? Great comedic potential is all you can really expect from the NDP for the next 4 years.
    Iggy – Whoops that was a mistake. To stay with the virgin theme, he is no longer a political one.
    SH – bend over Canada Leftists. This won't hurt a bit.

  6. .
    Harper never 'rallies his senses'.

    He re-calibrates. He reboots his kernel.
    .

    • Vote decrement -1. I must've said something right again.

  7. .
    I expect the Government of Harper to listen to Jack politely, and respond appropriately. Simply for the sake of appearances.

    If he and his forces gather some discipline together over the next few years and represent an image-threat to a second conservative majority upgrade 2.0 in 4 years, then I expect the noble and unjustly vilified Lord (and saviour and redeemer) Minister of Media, Communications and Propaganda Conrad Black, having been welcomed back to a standing ovation by the conservatives and the National Post, to dump a liberal dose of figurative Polonium in the NDP's tea as an object lesson to all and sundry else that think they are the moral representatives of Trudeau's vision of a just and fair Canada.
    .

    • It will be a fine line Harper will walk, between appearing to Canadians that his majority hasn't gone to his head, and not lending Layton enough legitimacy so that his job appears vulnerable in 2015.

      Here's another angle: Harper just turned 52 on April 30th. Layton will be 61 in July. Harper just has to outlast him.

  8. {Perhaps freed of the need to be eternally combative, paranoid and, yes, dickish, he will indeed “govern for all Canadians.”}

    Think that is the way it will go Scott. He can give more access, recoup from flubs, etc. now that they are in a position of strength.

    Just imagin you had someone competing for your job and every second you have to be on guard, watching for the knife coming for your back. Look at how the NDP are not allowing access to their new MPs. I think we are in for some very interesting/exciting times in Canadian politics and there will be many opportunities for you and your fellow journalists.

    Kelly McParland: Should Stephen Harper be nicer to the media? http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/05/05/ke

  9. All campaign long, Layton had ended his speeches by vowing theatrically that, as prime minister, he. Would not. Stop. Untiltheworkisdone. He stuck to this rhetoric on election night. But the Opposition leader doesn't get to do the work. At best, he gets first dibs on criticizing the work. With more than a hundred seats in a Conservative majority, Jack Layton has never been so undeniably relevant—and so utterly inconsequential.

  10. The crowd in the room loved it, as the crowd in the room had loved Ignatieffs rise up speech. Partisans always love the partisan stuff. The people outside, who have had quite enough of feuds and quarrels, not so much. The day before Duceppe spoke, the daily Nanos tracking poll put the Bloc at 38.7 per cent support in Quebec. Within a week they would lose one-fifth of that support and fall to 30.3. And from there the collapse would only accelerate.

  11. As Ignatieff showed, the stress of the campaign can sap the faculties. Not even Harper was immune. The Conservative leader was so boggled on election night that he gave a speech in which he portrayed himself as gracious and inclusive. One assumes he later rallied his senses.

  12. More oddly, given her moment in the spotlight, May behaved in the manner of an actress being handed a shiny prize—she recited a list of thank yous and cracked some inside jokes, instead of seizing the moment to make her case and build her following. One sensed an end, not a beginning.

  13. More oddly, given her moment in the spotlight, May behaved in the manner of an actress being handed a shiny prizeshe recited a list of thank yous and cracked some inside jokes, instead of seizing the moment to make her case and build her following. One sensed an end, not a beginning.

  14. Honestly, I think you may be right about that. He did, after all, work with them on the residential school apology. I think Harper has a lot invested in making it seem like Layton can get more done with him than the Liberals can. ….that is, until the public start warming up to the sound of PM Layton.

  15. I'm truly intrigued. What is with all the hatred of Elizabeth May? When I hear such vitriol spewed against a party leader with a whopping one seat in the House of Commons, I can only suspect one of two things:
    Either the Cons and Liberals both realize that a rising Green Party is a threat to both of their fortunes. OR our country still, after all these years, has a vicious hatred for female politicians. I mean seriously…narcissistic? We despise her for this while electing Harper as PM and Jack as opposition leader? May is the only politician in the last election who sacrificed herself and others by telling people it was more important not to vote split than to elect Greens. That's hardly the action of a woman seeking power.

    I mean seriously, what's going on here? I smell a low-budget attack ad campaign in the form of a Conbot army on the message boards. You heard it hear first: a couple years before the next election we're going to start seeing attack ads calling Elizabeth May a power hungry egomaniac who throws her party members under the bus to get elected. I can't wait.

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  17. what possible choice does anyone even think that the NDP even have now ?, against a carte-blanche Harper, for the next 4 years ?
    -and all becuase I BLAME completely the Liberals, and BQ for "imploding"
    LOL

  18. You may find Jack Layton’s (NDP’s) true political affiliations quite interesting – the SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL (SI ) – from whom Jack takes orders (as opposed to from his electorate):

    http://www.socialistinternational.org/

    This is a REPORT of the SI on its SAO PAULO conference which discusses new global institutions of global governance, and new international architecture, the nation-state being no longer “important”:

    http://www.socialistinternational.org/viewArticle.cfm?ArticleID=186&ArticlePageID=77&ModuleID=18

    These are the Participants at the SAO PAULO conference, including Dawn Black for the NDP:

    http://www.socialistinternational.org/viewArticle.cfm?ArticleID=186&ArticlePageID=813&ModuleID=18

    Layton’s NDP and the SI are working on creating a world government.  However, this is old news, the SI has been working on that since well before NDP became a member of the SI.

    A couple of Permanent Links on JACK being front-page news at the SI web site after the May 2011 federal elections:

    [1] http://en.calameo.com/books/000111790ecbedacfe6d8

    [2] http://en.calameo.com/books/0001117900cdcff141f85

    AND

    [3] “The Grasp of the Socialist International by William F. Jasper (New American 16 February 2010) — “http://en.calameo.com/books/000111790b9685aedc3f2

    That last article will explain to you precisely WHAT the Socialist International is, and where it comes from. Its roots are SOVIET, it’s the continuation of the old Soviet Communist International, a plan for communist world government.

    A lot of people voted for Jack because they know Stephen Harper is annexing Canada to the USA and Mexico.  However, JACK is a friendly guest speaker at the Model Parliament for North America hosted by the North American Forum on Integration.  He secretly promotes CONTINENTAL UNION, the annexation of Canada to the USA and Mexico, because it’s needed to complete the world communist government made up of Marxist-model continental unions.

    Visit me on Facebook.
    And at YouTube:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/crazyforcanada?feature=mhee#g/a

    Kathleen Moore
    HABEAS CORPUS CANADA
    The Official Legal Challenge
    To North American Union
    http://www.habeascorpuscanada.com
     

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