Victorious Conservatives Face New Opposition
The Conservatives and their openly pro-Israel leader Stephen Harper have done it. They have ended reliance on the minority governments that they had to work with since 2006 by capturing an outright majority of 166, as opposed to 143, going in to the Canadian elections on Monday. The opposition will be led by New Democratic Party.
There were other subplots: An orange tide catapulted the New Democratic Party to the role of official opposition as the party nearly trebled its previous size with 100 seats as opposed to 37. The elections humbled the Liberal Party of Canada that less than 10 years ago was considered the country's dominant party and all but obliterated the separatist Bloc Quebecois.
The Conservatives benefitted from satisfaction with the economy, voter disapproval of the dissolution of parliament and the call for new elections, and the electoral system that split the vote to the left and allowed them to win a majority with approximately 40% of the vote.
In Quebec, the NDP smashed the Bloc Québécois, long the dominant party in the province. The Bloc's leader, Gilles Duceppe, lost his seat and promptly resigned as leader of the party. The Montreal Gazette heralded the astounding reversal with the headline Quebec Opts for Canada.
While Duceppe believes that Quebec should be a separate country, the fact that referendums on the issue have been defeated and there was little appetite for another one, established a dissonance between the party's message and reality. The NDP's Jack Layton shone in both the English and French debates and could, with a stretch, be presented as a native of Quebec. Quebecers want a government that will do more for them and the NDP appeared to be the answer.
The Liberal decline is worth analyzing. Michael Igantieff, like Duceppe, lost his seat but as opposed to Duceppe is still holding firm. He says that he won't resign, although his party lost 6 percent and saw its seat numbers decline by about 60% for its worst showing ever. Some of his fellow party members are already demanding his head.
While the Bloc Quebecois lost its Quebec bastion, the Liberal's fortress, Ontario, fell to both the Conservatives and the NDP.
The Liberals were a catch-all party that is now confronted with an identity problem. The Conservatives have captured the pro business vote, while the NDP appeals to the progressives and those who wish to distinguish Canada from its giant neighbor to the south.