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Who actually won?Who actually won?

Who actually won?

It wasn't that the seat tallies weren't there bold, bright, and beautiful showing a stunning Tory majority. They were, rising and rising from Atlantic Canada right through to B.C. It's true the New Democratic gains to more than 100 seats looked impressive. But the reality is that they came almost entirely in a single province—Quebec—whose voters performed some kind of en masse mind bend in the last two weeks of the campaign.

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Topics: Journalism, Media
Who actually won? May 3, 2011  |  By Peter Stockland
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Watching the CBC's coverage of the federal election results at 12:05 this morning, I was still asking: who won?

It wasn't that the seat tallies weren't there bold, bright, and beautiful showing a stunning Tory majority. They were, rising and rising from Atlantic Canada right through to B.C.

Yet almost the entire CBC crew seemed obsessed, instead, with the story of the NDP's climb from minority odd-bodies to Official Opposition.

It's true the New Democratic gains to more than 100 seats looked impressive. But the reality is that they came almost entirely in a single province—Quebec—whose voters performed some kind of en masse mind bend in the last two weeks of the campaign.

In other words, while intriguing, the NDP's entrenchment as a full frontal political force is far, far from certain.

The Conservatives, by contrast, are back, in a major way, from the debacle of 1993 when their majority government was reduced to two seats in the House of Commons.

Not only are the Tories back but they are deliberately back without Quebec and, according to the last count that I saw, with 75 per cent of the seats in the GTA.

By any accounting, that is a stunning electoral victory.

Yet at around 11 p.m., with a Tory majority declared, what did we get? Toronto NDP MP Olivia Chow, wife of New Democrat leader Jack Layton, yammering about the multicultural nature of her riding. At that point, the Tories were showing 167 MPs elected—and the CBC couldn't find one of them to talk to.

Indeed, only moments earlier, the best they could do was have reporter Terry Milewski badger Conservative campaign chairman Guy Giorno, and accuse him of being "afraid" that still-pending results in B.C. would deny the Tories their majority.

Almost hilariously, as Milewski was doing his attack dog bit, the numbers at the bottom of the screen showed the Tories crossing into majority territory.

At one point, someone did manage to bring a camera within the orbit of Calgary Southeast MP Jason Kenney, which is like bringing matter within the gravitational pull of a black hole. There is simply no way to keep Kenney off-camera once he's aware the lens is open and the viewers are waiting.

Beyond that, past midnight, we still had Peter Mansbridge talking about what a triumphant night it was for the NDP, panelist Allan Gregg emitting noises straight from the Liberal message script about the anti-democratic menace of the Conservatives, and even an interminably long warble from Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

What in the name of Rex Murphy was going on? Was it the hard-wired journalistic reflex to always love an underdog no matter its fleas? Or was it, as some would automatically assume, just typical CBC pro-left bias rearing its ugly head again?

In fairness, I've spent the campaign watching The National every night as part of a group monitoring it for fairness and balance. With a couple of exceptions that are almost to be expected during a long campaign, the coverage was generally even-handed and didn't, to my eyes anyway, reveal the supposed predisposition toward the left of everyone who has ever picked up a CBC pay cheque. I found the vast majority of it to be standard, reasonable, if at times a little goofy, journalism.

But on election night? As I turned out the lights at the end election night, I couldn't help thinking it will be a good thing when parliament resumes so we can find out who actually won.

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