I like to read Andrew Cohen's column when I'm looking for perspective. Perhaps that's because, like me, Cohen -- who teaches journalism and international affairs at Carleton -- is an ex- Montrealer. He remembers what Quebec used to be and he understands what it has become. More importantly, he understands the complexity of this country. On Tuesday, he wrote:
At 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Justin Trudeau and his new ministry arrive at Rideau Hall. They swear allegiance, they stand before the cameras, they look fresh and different.
It is a change of government, a transfer of power, bloodless and seamless. Canada has been doing this without fuss for 148 years. While Germany had Reichs and France had Republics, we have always accepted without challenge the election of new leaders, regardless of party, period or policy.
It is cliché on this occasion to stand up and salute democracy. But as John F. Kennedy put it at his inauguration, a new government is less a victory of party than a celebration of freedom.
Cohen then wrote about the fortnight between the election and yesterday:
This autumn fortnight is soothing because we are still digesting what happened on Oct. 19. Few thought it possible.
We took a party that was moribund four years ago, with the fewest seats in its history, and made it the government, with the second-highest number of seats in its history, the most since 1949.
We returned the country to the two-party system of mainstream parties, with the New Democrats back in third place. Behold, the status quo ante.
We elected the second-youngest prime minister in our history and the first son of a prime minister. Margaret Trudeau has the unique distinction of being both wife and mother of a prime minister.
We chose a government with more women and more aboriginals. It has seats in every province and almost every big city. It is rural and urban, black, white and tan, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and other faiths. Canadians see their reflection in their Parliament.
We turned out to vote, almost seven in 10. On some reserves, they ran out of ballots.
There will be tough times ahead and the new government will have to get up to speed quickly. But yesterday should remind us that we can be guided by our better angels. We have much to celebrate and much for which to be grateful.