Saturday, August 15, 2015

Similarities Between Canada's 1945 Election and 2015

History has a funny way of repeating itself.  A recent news article highlighted several similarities between the 2015 national election in Canada and the one in 1993, here:

CBC Comparison 2015 to 1993

But there is a least 1 other past campaign, that also has several curious similarities with the 42nd national election.

Canada's 20th federal contest took place in June of 1945.  A national Gallup poll in 1943, had shown that the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), a party of the left, was leading in a 3-way race against the governing Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives (PC).  By comparison in 2015, the successor to the CCF party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), has also been leading their 2 rivals in the polls for several months, see here:

CBC Poll Tracker Mid August 2015

The CCF's surge in 1945 was likely part of  a wave of support for the Party, following their surprise success in a provincial contest in Saskatchewan in 1943.  Today's NDP has also been energized by its victory, last spring, in what many consider the home province of modern Canadian conservatism, in Alberta, see my previous comment on that election here:

Landslides in Alberta's Provincial Politics

In Canada's 20th electoral contest, the longstanding incumbent, Prime Minister King (Liberal),    faced 2 new opposition leaders in John Bracken (PC) and MJ Coldwell (CCF), neither of whom had led their respective parties in a national election.  Similarly, today Harper, in his 10th year as Prime Minister, faces two new opposition leaders in Liberal Justin Trudeau, and the NDP's Thomas Mulcair, both in their 1st national campaigns. 

At least some of the election issues, like international security, are also common to both 1945 and 2015.  With the war winding down in 1945, King demanded a new majority mandate, saying without it: "We would have confusion to deal with at a time when the world will be in a very disturbed not over".  Audio of King's campaign kickoff speech is available here:

Prime Minister King Starts 1945 campaign.
Interestingly, just as King raised international concerns in the wake of World War II, so too did Prime Minister Harper also raise national security issues as one election issue in his own campaign kickoff on August 2, 2015, see a summary in this news item here:

Harper Says Other Leaders Can't Be Trusted With Country's Future

Today the constitutional role of Canada's Senate is a campaign issue.  The NDP has taken the position that the Senate, a non-elected upper Chamber in Canada, should be abolished.  One of the platform planks of the upstart CCF party in 1945 was also Senate abolition. 

Finally, in 2015 the Conservatives rolled out a new program, the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB), which saw many families receiving a cheque from the government last July.  In 1945, one of the major platform planks of King's Liberals was the establishment of a similar program, the "Family Allowance", which also promised a subsidy for families with children.

Studying Canadian politics and law, I am always struck by how often similar issues seem to arise over time.  What is old, it seems, may be new again.

In the 20th election, King's demand for a new mandate resulted in his re-election, but only with a minority government, which required the support of several independent Members of Parliament.  Given how close the polls show today's election to be, its impossible to say with any certitude what will happen on election day this October. Only time will tell if the historical synchronicity between the 1945 and 2015 will continue.

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