Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Well, Stephen, I Hope That Was Worth It

Conservatives reelected with minority government

As Canada heads into the dying hours of October 14, 2008, Stephen Harper's Conservative party has claimed a second straight minority government -- the third straight minority for the country.

This is exactly what Harper predicted when he called the election, even if it isn't quite what he simply must have been hoping for.

Preliminary results -- a few races across the country will almost certainly go into recount -- have the Conservatives holding 145 seats, the Liberals with 76 and the NDP with 37. The Bloc Quebecois have 48 seats and the Green party came up empty.

Harper had to work very hard to justify this election, considering that he had to violate his own fixed election date legislation to even call it. He'll still have some work to do yet. Even Harper's stronger mandate is rather thin justification.

And Harper would, quite frankly, be foolish to even try to offer up another fixed election date law in order to pay lip service to demands for electoral reform. Canadians aren't likely to fall for that one twice.

Stephane Dion will have some very difficult questions to answer considering the defeat his party absorbed during this election. As of this writing, the Liberals have lost 26 seats.

For Jack Layton, any lingering questions about his leadership should have been dispelled by this outing for the NDP -- an additional nine seats over their 2006 total.

Gilles Duceppe and his Bloc Quebecois lost three seats in Quebec. Not quite the federalist triumph that appeared to be imminent as the election began, but still a positive result for federalism.

Harper has his government -- one stronger than the government that preceded it. One can only hope that this lesson on the current status of Canadian politics: no party clearly has the support of Canadians. Even as some commentators will trot out the myth of Canadian left-of-centre solidarity, the country is not as firmly united against Stephen Harper as some will pretend.

The coming months should be interesting, if nothing else.

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