Conservatives Win Majority, Liberals And Bloc Decimated
Prime Minister Stephen Harper Celebrates First Majority
Canadian Political Landscape Drastically Altered
Stephen Harper's Conservatives won a majority government in last night's Canadian federal election. The Conservatives acquired their majority by making large gains in the voter rich Toronto area which had long been a Liberal fortress.
The other clear winner was the NDP (the New Democratic Party) under Jack Layton who surprisingly will represent more than one hundred seats when Parliament resumes. The Canadian Liberal Party was reduced to a mere thirty seats and saw its leader Michael Ignatieff lose his seat in his own constituency. Mr. Ignatieff appeared in a press conference this morning to announce his resignation as party leader.
Mr. Layton who was exhilarated by last night's win will actually possess less bargaining power because of the Conservative majority. Though he has increased representation in Canadian parliament, he will be powerless to stop any Conservative agenda being pushed through in the form of legislation. Previously, he had smaller representation that was needed by the Conservative in order to avoid their minority government from falling.
The Bloc Quebecois, a separatist federalist party was all but shut out of its sole province of Quebec. Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the Bloc, lost his own seat and promptly took responsibility and resigned upon learning of the disastrous election results. The NDP picked up almost all of the previous Bloc support and will enjoy the majority of Quebec's seats for the first time in history.
Long Term Analysis
As they did with voting favourably for the Liberals in 1993, Canadians have given the Conservatives a mandate to rule using fiscally right-wing policies which mostly include tackling the burgeoning national debt and the faltering Canadian economy. The Conservatives will most likely resurrect their last budget presented in the house (which they also used as the basis of their policy platform in the election) and run with it.
There will be growing pressure amidst the Liberal collapse to merge themselves with the NDP. This may pose several problems as the Liberal Party has historically been centrally aligned and has been able to straddle support from both the left and right. A merger of these two parties may strengthen the left in the next election but it may also bleed the more right wing elements of the Liberal Party to the Conservatives.
The NDP also may be too jubilant and too defiant in accepting any sort of merger with the Liberals, seeing they have risen to new heights mostly based on the personality and charisma of their leader Jack Layton.
Finally, the Conservatives themselves have changed a great deal. It will be interesting to see if the gains from Ontario will keep the party closer to the political centre or will the "Reform" elements from the West win out when it puts forward its legislation. Stephen Harper has done an effective job of controlling the radical right elements of his party. With greater representation from the Greater Toronto Area, he may have more allies to keep the whole party in line. He is still widely supported in the west and for now Canada will be engulfed by a wave of blue at least for another four years.