Canada Will Have Election on May 2, Bad News For Bill C-389

On Friday, March 25th, Stephen Harper’s minority government was found in contempt of Parliament. Saturday morning, Harper asked Governor-General David Johnston to dissolve Parliament, and an election has been called for May 2. This will be Canada’s 4th election in 7 years. This is also the first time in Canadian history that a government has ever been found in contempt of Parliament. Previously, there have only been 5 occasions of ‘non-confidence’ votes.

Opposition parties have been saying for months that they would not support the 2011 federal budget, released on Tuesday by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. The budget itself was not typically “Conservative”, clearly trying to meet the NDP halfway and stave off an election. But Jack Layton (leader of the NDP) was having none of that. Flaherty knew that no matter what he put on the budget, the opposition would still vote against it, so it felt more like a symbolic gesture rather than anything concrete.

cold dead eyes

The Montreal Gazette has a decent rundown on how Harper’s government fell. A lot of it has to do with the fact that Harper initially did not release corporate-tax revenue projections or the costs of crime bills (forecast as $650m for 18 crime bills), which the finance committee reported as a breach of parliamentary privilege by MPs. Harper’s Conservative party’s official end came in the House of Commons on a Liberal non-confidence motion by a vote of 156 to 145.

The good news is we now have a chance to get rid of Stephen Harper; polls, however, have shown that public opinion favours the Conservatives, and they may even win a majority this time around – they only need 12 more seats to win it. A lot can change in a month, though, and Michael Igantieff and The Liberals have a long road ahead of them, starting with trying to get Canadians to care about this.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff

What is completely frustrating is that together, the Liberals and the NDP could win a majority government; instead, they divide the left. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has said he will not form a coalition government with the NDP or the Bloc Quebecois, no matter who wins.

UNFORTUNATELY, because of this election, all bills on the table in Parliament have died, including bill C-389, which would have added hate crimes protection based on gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Criminal Code.

So, the election race begins, and I truly think that this one is up in the air. In the meantime, what do you think is going to happen? Was it a bad move by opposition parties to force an election when the political climate is clearly not in their favor? If Harper wins is everyone going to threaten to move to Sweden?

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Emily Choo started as an intern with Autostraddle when she was 18 years old. She's now 10 years older and lives in Toronto with her partner and cat. The defining moment of her career was when Riese said this about her: " I think Emily Choo is a very bright, 'poetically inclined' girl who pays attention to everything and knows almost everything (the point of stuff, how to read, how beautiful things feel, how scary things feel, etc.) but doesn't believe/accept/realize yet that she knows almost everything." She still doesn't believe she knows anything, so, thank you, Riese, for that.

Emily has written 100 articles for us.


  1. … Just when I got all excited about being Canadian since we’re now sponsoring LGBT immigrants, THIS happens.

    Parliament, I am disappoint.

  2. I don’t even know what to say. It seems like so many of our elections (including this one) are lose-lose. We’ve had so many elections, we keep electing minority governments who can’t do a heck of a lot, frankly, I’m not a fan of Harper, Ignatieff, or Layton… and now bill C-389’s been lost.

    To boot, I’m from a riding that ALWAYS goes conservative no matter what, so my non-conservative vote never matters.

    I should point out that my riding is out west, and in the past we have been badly underrepresented in a very Ontario-centric government, so it sort of makes sense from a historical perspective… BUT REALLY, voting conservative this time will just be foolish.


    PS: Though this is not great news, I’m SO happy to see Canadian content on Autostraddle :-D Thanks Autostraddle!! Thanks Emily!! You’re amazing!!

  3. I’m kind of hopeful and despairing at the same time. If we can get Harper out, that would obviously be awesome. But voter apathy is ridiculous in Canada. :( Ughh.

  4. Definitely. I’m actually an employee of the feds, so this is the first time that this election has actually mattered (am I still going to have a job with the new budget? etc). But it is definitely frustrating as a Left-winger constantly seeing this jackass win elections because the Left has too (two) many choices: NDP – ideally, my fave, but not popular enough to win federally, and the Liberals who have had really weak leaders in the past two elections. So…with my cynicism kicking in, I don’t expect any changes on May 3. And that is why so few of us vote. *sigh*

    • i feel the same way, i would really like to vote NDP but i almost feel like that’s unproductive because there’s no way they’ll win and at the same time it’s one less vote for the liberals who actually have a shot at winning.

          • Maybe if all the closet NDP voters voted NDP, it would start to make a difference? Not voting doesn’t bring attention to what Canadians want… it just gives us the expected outcome that’s generally what we don’t want.

            Get out and vote… because you never know how much your vote may count, especially if ALL the non-voters start to think this way.

          • To be fair, no one said they WOULDN’T vote NDP.

            I have been staunchly NDP since I was old enough to vote, but I feel the same. As much as my personal politics line up with the NDP, I know it’ll be years (if ever) before they have a legitimate chance of winning federally and I’d rather have the Liberals in charge than more of Harper. But I just can’t resign my ethics with voting for the lesser of two evils instead of voting for the party I actually agree with.

            Not to mention the fact that I now live in Québec and while I still prefer the NDP to the Bloc overall, the Bloc’s policies aren’t bad and I know they’ll win my riding no matter what. But I also can’t resign myself to voting for a party that runs strictly in one province in a federal election and could never legally lead the country.

            This is the primary problem with the party system the way it is represented currently. With a 4-way split of the left, the right will always win. But that doesn’t change the fact that like 65%+ of voting Canadians politically more left than the current government. Which is why I sort of support the idea of a coalition. But that also just seems cheap and ineffectual somehow.

            In essence, this election makes me simultaneously joyous, terrified and confused.

      • But guys… let’s try not to form a goverment based on voting for who we think will win. It’s tempting, but it’s better to vote for who you want to win.

  5. my riding is auto-liberal, but i feel like harper is going to end up with a majority unfortunately. i feel like this is in no small part due to the fact ignatieff is a robot. he is really not helping.

  6. God. Canada, let’s get our shit together.

    The NDP and the Liberals should get together and be one happy left-wing party, because they obviously aren’t getting anything done separately! Stupid Michael Ignatieff with his crazy eyes and creepy smile and caterpillar eyebrows. Jack Layton seems cool and he cares a lot about old people, I dunno.

    We need a majority gov’t, just so STUFF CAN HAPPEN. I feel like we sit around and shoot everything down and nothing ever happens good or bad cause everything just goes to shit. Maybe if we have a majority, we can like, I dunno, let someone serve their full-term?

    • NDP and Liberals work together? Make stuff happen?! Let someone serve their full term?!?! You sure have some craaaaazy ideas.

      • As OK Go says, “Nothing ever doesn’t change, but nothing changes much.” ANNOYING. We’ve gotta boot the Tories out of there; I’m so tired of them winning solely on the basis of being the only guys who have their shit together.

  7. I’m still happy I’m Canadian, but thank friggin’ god for this…. This should have happened forever and ever ago.

  8. Harper leaving that is. In case that was alittle unclear…. he needs to go. coalition should have happened. too many thoughts on this. bye.

  9. I feel like things are probably unlikely to change, and Harper will be back with a minority. However, if he comes back with a majority win, I will probably hide under my bed/move to Sweden for the duration. I don’t really have the same dislike of minority governments that most of the rest of the country/AS commenters do, though. The reason shit hasn’t been getting done has far less to do with the fact that it’s a minority gov’t and far MORE to do with the fact that the parties delight in shooting down things the others put forward. However, this isn’t always a bad thing… If Harper had a majority… *shivers* Have you *read* some of the things the Cons wanted to pass???!?!? Terrifying.

    I just really think blaming everything on the fact that we’re under a minority government is… Misguided, I guess? I mean, we picked the flag under a minority government, we passed tons of language laws under minority gov’ts… They’re not ineffectual by default. They’re ineffectual when the PMO cannot or will not compromise. I don’t think that duty to compromise falls on the opposition, but on the party in power. Just imho, but yeah.


    I wish everyone could talk to Michael Ignatieff or at least hear him speak off camera, though, because he comes off so much warmer and just… *Better* when he’s not on the teevee, and I feel like if more people could see him in that situation they would want to vote for him a lot more. That’s my experience, at least.

    Also, this article is pretty great and like someone up there ^ said, seeing Canadian content on AS is super excitingtiemz. Thanks, Emily!

    • Yes to minorities. When it works, it works really well; people compromising, working together… What can I say. I’m an idealist.

  10. I love all this recent stuff on Canada! Keep it up – it’s making your Canadian readers happy :)

  11. A Tory majority would be unthinkingly scary. We’d start to become…well, more like the States, I guess. Not that you guys are bad, but, well, have you seen some of the stuff that’s been happening lately? And Harper’s way too much of a sycophant to stand apart.

    • It’s pretty bad down here. I really hope you guys can stay sane, because I’d really like to live somewhere less terrible.


  13. I really don’t care for Ignatieff, but that’s for cultural prejudices (he said that Ukrainians aren’t a real ethnic group because he is/was blinded by Russo-arrogance, by I digress). All the same, if he could get off his damn high-horse and join forces with Layton, I’m sure things would work out for us.

    Can I just say how delighted I am to see so many Canucks on here, eh? =P

    • I don’t know why people have to vote for politicians with allegedly good Christian values. Especially when their values seem to be 100% lacking in kindness and charity and compassion and, you know, actual Christian values.

  14. I don’t even know how Harper manages to stay leader of the Conservatives after his government has been found in contempt of Parliament. I mean, there was some pretty blatant rule breaking going on there, and being found in contempt of Parliament basically means you were caught giving a big FUCK YOU to democracy itself.

    A minority government doesn’t get a lot done, but you gotta remember that efficiency is something you sacrifice for democracy. A minority government is kept in check by the opposition, and without it you’re basically looking at a government that will get whatever it wants on any issue that’s not a free vote. That’s a scary thought, whether the majority government is a left or right wing one.

  15. Everyone at work thinks I’m Canadian, so now I’m at least slightly informed if someone happens to ask me about the election there? Not that anything like this would make the news in Australia…

  16. Yeah, I’m confused. I keep reading on vaguely sketchy websites that because Harper is in contempt of the Parliament, he has been charged with a crime – and thus not eligible to run for any election. Nothing about this elsewhere- and I feel like that should be a BIG DEAL if it is indeed true. Halp ?

    Mostly, at the moment, i’m just entertaining myself with the Bloc’s existence. My riding is BQ/Liberal depending on the day and Justin Trudeau’s mood, so I’ve been very very very amused by the Bloc’s “aggressive campaigning”. Ah, Gilles Duceppe.

    • The Bloc IS kinda cute in a way. In my Montreal riding (I don’t know if I’m allowed to vote here… If I’m pretty much moving on voting day, I wonder if I can screw the system and vote twice…. probably not)

      But anyways, my point was that the BQ candidate in my riding is super hot. Her posters are all sexy.

  17. I am Canadian, and I am new to voting! I would like to vote this year!
    I wish I understood voting!
    Maybe Autostraddle will write a voting-for-Canadians for Dummies in time for the election!

    • It’s weird that you commented right before me. I’ll call you later and tell you all about what my smart parents told me about voting.

      • It is weird that we were both reading and commenting on this article at the same time. It’s like we are epic friends in real life or something.

  18. Guys, PLEASE don’t vote for the liberals just because you think they might win. This isn’t a good way to elect a government, or a good use of your one vote.

    I’ll be voting on Vancouver Island, so I can actually vote Green and have it not be ridiculous. But I’m a big NDP supporter, so we’ll see.

    I think/hope that the Bloc and the NDP might form a coalition. I feel like it could happen, and be really good.

    I get so frustrated that the left is all split up.
    I JUST GOT A GREAT IDEA. I am going to form another conservative party.

  19. Could anyone please tell me what government would be best for GLBTQness in Canada?

  20. I used the Vote Compass: thank you for providing that link. It was helpful. I am still confused though.

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