Election Night in Canada: le grande orange

What’s blue and orange and not red all over?

Early in the night, before SUN News Network started posting results (they waited an extra half hour until 10p.m.ET!), Brian Lilley made a bold prediction: Conservatives would win 165 seats.
Note to self: get Lilley to help with NHL playoff pool picks next spring.
Monday’s election night coverage was almost as historic as the results. Long gone are the days when networks would start posting results as soon as polls closed in the East. In years past, majorities have been declared almost as soon as the show started.

It was interesting to see networks take a more cautious approach Monday night as the NDP “Orange Wave” swept conventional wisdom out with the Liberals.

Instead of predictions, CBC opened the night with a 30 minute in-house pep rally. There were shout outs from the Dragon’s Den millionaires (all practically salivating over the prospect of more corporate tax cuts), Rex Murphy giving kudos to Don Cherry and vice versa, even a bit from three 22 Minutes players. “They’ll be back next season,” reassured Peter Mansbridge. Good to see somebody left leaning is coming back for you.
The wide, clean, colourful CBC News set worked to great effect Monday night. Finally there was a reason for Mansbridge to be walking the floor. Rex Murphy here, Wendy Mesley there, the “At Issue” panel across the back, it was well laid out, well lit and well directed.


Mansbridge (right) with the “At Issue” panel



Evan Solomon and his telestrator, however, got old fast. Rick Mercer would have been more fun in this role, circling with more edge and wit.

Over on CTV, the election night layout looked more like a Wednesday afternoon in the Senate. One actual senator was on their desk—former CTV news anchor Pamela Wallin—but old guard Lloyd Robertson and Craig Oliver looked ready to be wheeled in.
Nice touch having Lloyd’s hair tinted with the Orange Wave as the night wore on, looks more natural than when it used to alternate between blue and red. There was something creepy, however, about the animated face icons CTV kept using on their leader board. It just screamed Fox Sports. You expected somebody to toss Layton a football.
CTV’s coot meter started to explode by the time former PM Brian Mulroney was showcased well into the electioncast. Mulroney was all cozy in his book-paneled den, looking very Tommy Shanks. The CTV gang clamoured to kiss his ring, party like it was 1988, etc. “You still have your instincts sir,” gushed Bob Fife. Oliver asked The Great Man if he felt responsible for the Conservative success. Somewhere, Jean Chretien threw up in his mouth and then looked around for somebody to strangle.
Moments later on CBC, Amanda Lang topped that by reading a message, this time from a convicted felon, Conrad Black. The former publisher, sprung from the slammer, allowed that this night was a great step forward for the two party system in Canada.
Sun News now gets to have Darth Vader, Carrot Top, Morgana, anybody they want on as a political analyst. A free pass for at least a year.
Wait—Sun News had former TTC diddler Adam Giambone on their election night “Patriot Panel.” Go back 3000 spaces.
Among the legitimate pundits, CBC`s Chantel Hebert nailed it left and right all night, predicting early Gilles Duceppe’s Bloc would finish last in Quebec, making a crack about his “minor rump” and suggesting we were witnessing the “Socialcreditization” of his party. She early on observed Stephen Harper’s vote splitting victory had all the makings of “a Jean Chretien majority.”
Michael Ignatieff came out around 11:13 and made the most gracious concession speech of all time. Where was this guy the last five weeks? He offered “open hearted congratulations” to Harper despite all those tread marks up his ass after two solid years of didn’t come back for you character assassination.
CTV needlessly rubbed it in by throwing up a graphic declaring Iggy defeated in his own riding—right smack in the middle of this heartfelt, ennobling speech. They didn’t hold back for you. Lloyd made amends later by noting that the moment was “gracious, eloquent, poetic at times.” Even David Akin over at SUN suggested Liberals will now have four years to take a deep breath.
Duceppe spoke and, as Andrew Coyne remarked, good riddance. Layton spoke and some felt he was too uppity in his victory. Harper didn’t take his grand moment until well past 1 a.m. in the east. His speech played to a packed, jubilant crowd and in a wide, cavernous Calgary arena—the optics were very U.S. presidential. The guy certainly knows his playbook.
Global also offered election night coverage.
Despite all the fuss in Canada, the federal election seems to have been lost in all the news south of the border. As Jimmy Kimmel quipped Monday night, “Between the death of bin Laden and the royal wedding, it’s an exciting time to be in the commemorative plate business.”

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