This interesting article was written by
Nikolaus Maack (former owner of this website)
It seemed wrong, after all I’d been through, to watch the election results at home on TV. So I called the Ed Broadbent campaign headquarters and asked them where they were having their election night party. They called me back and let me know.
It was in a large hall on Preston street, at 9:30 PM. In each corner of the room was a TV tuned to a different station, with people clustered around it. CBC was the favourite — but of course this was a gathering of NDP supporters. There was free food (pizza and veggie trays) and a bar with overpriced drinks ($10.25 for two bottles of beer).
In the middle of the room, on a raised platform, was an island of media people, facing a stage with a podium. TV cameras, reporters, and sound people all stood clustered together. Their cables were glued to the floor with black and yellow striped tape. Photographers circled the room, occasionally snapping pictures of nothing just to make sure their cameras still worked.
One wall was covered with white posterboards that listed all the polling stations. Each station had boxes for the big four candidates — NDP, Green, Liberal, Conservative. I guess no one really cared how many votes Robert Gauthier was getting.
Runners dashed into the room with polling station results, and handed them to a guy with a black marker. He quickly scribbled the numbers in the boxes for the crowd to see. If the numbers were in favour of Ed, the crowd cheered. If the numbers were close, the crowd said “Ooooo!” If the Liberals were ahead, the crowd moaned in annoyance.
It was obvious from the start the race was between Richard Mahoney and Ed. Watching the results come in one polling station at a time, it looked like Mahoney stood a slim chance. He didn’t.
Where did these numbers come from? What high tech system did Ed Broadbent’s campaign team have to stay on top of things? I found out when I went to the bathroom.
Downstairs, in the basement, was a lone woman at a table, talking on a payphone, writing numbers on a pad. The runners — mostly young guys, almost kids — rushed downstairs, snagged papers, and then rushed away. Who she had on that payphone, I don’t know. I like to think she was talking directly to God.
Every so often a woman dressed in orange and green (the NDP colours) would stand up at the podium and read the latest results. Her information was way ahead of the TV stations. While she was saying that Ed Broadbent was in the lead with eleven-thousand votes, the TV next to her said he was ahead with five-thousand. You’d think with the media right there, they could stay on top of things better.
But the media didn’t really care all that much. They were bored. Guys with cameras stood near the podium, waiting for Ed’s victory speech so they could snap a few pictures. I heard one say to another:
“Can we go home now?”
“That would be nice.”
But the crowd was hyper, excited, giddy. Hippies and former hippies were there, as well as the less scruffy, and quite a few idealistic young people. Some were there strictly for the food — I saw one guy with crazy hair walking around with a plastic bag full of as much pizza as he could steal. Because it was a gathering of socialists, no one did anything to stop him.
Every few minutes people watching a TV, or the poster boards, would cheer. Other people would rush over to that corner of the room to see what was going on. When they got there, whatever had happened was long past.
Everyone was on edge. Would Ed win? How was Jack Layton doing? Could the Liberals really pull this off?
It seemed weird, the level of excitement, because as the results came in it was obvious Ed had this thing in the bag. People were saying he had it bagged months ago. This election was so bagged it was blue and no longer moving. It was all over but for the burying in a shallow grave.
One of the TVs declared Ed the winner, even though all the polling stations weren’t in yet. Then a second TV agreed with the first TV. People started gathering at the podium, waiting for Ed to show up and give a speech. The reporters and sound people were slumped on the stage, tired of waiting.
Someone turned off the TVs. Then Ed’s famous rap video started to play on the two TVs on either side of the stage.
“Guess who’s back? Ed’s back!”
Somewhere in the middle of it, Ed came out on to the stage. The crowd went nuts. People started chanting:
“Who’s back? Ed’s back! Who’s back? Ed’s back!”
It was like being in the middle of a cult.
The photographers and media folk sprang to life, snapping pictures and holding up their mikes.
Ed looked embarrassed, bemused. Once it died down, he gave a little speech.
I’ve been to five candidates’ meetings and yet each time I’ve reported very little about what Ed said. Because when Ed speaks, nothing really sticks. There’s nothing particularly impressive or demanding of your attention. He speaks, and it’s like your wise grandfather is talking to you, telling you things you already know.
“Yeah, yeah, granddad’s on the ball. He knows what’s important.”
Maybe that’s all it takes to succeed in politics — being subdued and in your face at the same time.
The NDP is in a position of strength, Ed said. Now we can raise important issues. Affordable housing. Child poverty. All that good NDP stuff.
People applauded each issue. Yay, child poverty! That one is my favourite!
Ed thanked his wife and his campaign director. He joked about his wife and brother asking him if he was nuts when he said he was going back into politics. The crowd repeatedly interrupted him with cheers and applause.
In the middle of his speech, a tired kid kept asking his dad, “Dad, can we go home now?”
And then he was done, and he got off the stage. And I was done and left too, despite the campaign manager assuring us that we were going to have a great party. I got home just before midnight.
Here are the results for the Ottawa centretown riding, according to Elections Canada:
Ed Broadbent (NDP): 25570
Richard Mahoney (Liberal): 19406
Mike Murphy (Conservative): 11905
David Chernushenko (Green): 4707
Michael Foster (Marijuana Party): 450
Robert Gauthier (Independent): 120
Stuart Ryan (Communist): 90
Carla Dancey (Canadian Action Party): 83
Louis Lang (Marxist-Leninist): 69
Voter turnout was 71%.
These results are for 254 out of 255 polls reporting. What’s wrong with that one last poll? The election ended yesterday. Lazy bastards, pick up the pace!
Michael Foster is a mystery to me — he didn’t show up to a single candidates’ meeting. Yet he still beat all the other little people. That’s the power of the word “marijuana”. If instead of running for the Communist Party, Stuart Ryan ran for the “Crazy Bastards on Crack” party, he’d triple his votes.
David Chernushenko was endorsed by the Citizen, did very well at the meetings, and he still came in last among the big four parties. I guess there was a lot of strategic voting, despite David’s pleas.
Louis came in dead last because the names Marx and Lenin scare people – put them together with a hyphen and you may as well be Hitler.
Mike Murphy got eleven-thousand votes. Which means there are at least eleven-thousand people who are stupid enough to think Mike makes any sense. Or they never heard him speak.