Canadian Expats Unite as Justin Trudeau and the Liberals Win landslide Majority

On Monday October 19th, Canadian expats gathered in Panama City at the Irish Pub Blarney Stone, to watch the end of the longest election campaign in Canadian history.

In honor of the Canadian election, the pub extended Happy Hour and even added some Canadian specialties to the menu, including Poutine (french fries smoothened in gravy and cheese curds), a French Canadian favorite. The Canadian expat event was organized by the CanadaPLUS Club.

Those in attendance witnessed the end of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s rule, and a victory for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals. For Canada the event marked the first new leader in almost a decade. Justin Trudeau's Liberal party won with an absolute majority, a victory which CNN calls “a stunning blow to incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper,” who resigned as leader of the Conservative party shortly after the results were in.

For those who are not familiar with Canadian federal elections, Canadians vote for candidates in their “riding” or electoral district. There are 23 registered parties however most would say that the parties to watch are the Conservatives, the Liberals, and the New Democratic Party (NDP), and to a lesser extent, the Green Party and the Bloc Quebecois. Candidates who win a riding represent that district as a Member of Parliament (known as MPs). The party with the most winning candidates becomes the ruling government and their leader the Prime Minister. This explanation was relayed by a fellow Canadian expat named Haley, through a blog post on a recent #NoHarper event she attended in New York.
The  #NoHarper event was organized by a group of Canadians living in New York who felt "disenfranchised and angry" about the recent Ontario Court of Appeals decision to take the right to vote away from Canadians living abroad for more than five years. With fellow Canadians here in Panama confused about how to vote via mail, and if they were even eligable to vote, Haley’s post hit home.

“Originally put into place in 1993, most Canadians retained their right to vote simply by visiting the country every five years—even a connecting flight through a Canadian airport counted as a visit—until 2007, when the ruling began to be strictly enforced in the most literal terms: if you didn’t have an address on Canadian soil, you could not vote. A 2014 lawsuit restored the original interpretation, but this was overturned in June 2015.”

This meant that approximately 1.4 Canadian citizens were not eligible to vote in the most recent federal election.

Despite this, last night liberal candidates secured 184 seats or ridings, forming a majority government. A total of 170 seats are needed for a majority. As the crowd chanted his name, Justin Trudeau exclaimed, ”We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together.”

An explosion of hoots and hollers ensued, at Irish pubs and unofficial #NoHaper parties around the world. It did not seem to matter if you stood in O’Sullivan’s pub just outside Washington, Blarney Stone in Panama City or somewhere in New York, you could look around the room and be hard pressed to find a single Conservative supporter.

With our attention devided between the Toronto Blue Jays take down of the Kansas City Royals and the election, it was an exciting night. One that Richard Nixon former US President, predicted during a visit to Ottawa in 1972.

“Tonight we’ll dispense with the formalities. I’d like to toast the future prime minister Canada, to Justin Pierre Trudeau,” who was just 4 months old at the time. Though some might say the flattery was intended to woo Justin’s father, Pierre Trudeau (prime minister of Canada at the time), the prediction proved true last night.  While Pierre Trudeau responded to Nixon, that should his eldest son ever assume the role, he hoped he would have “the grace and skill of the president”, it’s his father's legacy that most Canadians hope the young Trudeau will live up to.

Mostly, I think Canadians are excited about the possibility of change. Also, last time there was a voter turn out this high… the Jays won.

Go Blue Jays.