Bare with me, I’m typing on a Blackberry.
So What Happened?
It came down to two provinces, as it usually does in federal elections: Ontario and Quebec. Ontario went Conservative to the tune of 72 seats, an 18 seat increase from the last election on the back of vote splitting across the province between Liberal and NDP candidates (though it’s tough to tell which side to blame for splitting the vote with the final results being what they are), as well as a healthy dose of “Rae Days” reminders in the final week. I expect that many centre and right-of-centre Liberals jumped to the Conservatives when the prospect of a Layton-led coalition – in the event of a minority government – was brought up by Conservatives during the last week, invoking the spectre of Bob Rae’s tenure as Premier with the message: Conservative majority or it’s back to this.
Quebec also saw a dramatic shift, with the NDP surging to an unlikely victory, crushing the Bloc Quebecois down to non-official party status. The Bloc’s fall, which can be at least partially blamed on the late rise of separatist rhetoric scaring away the moderate BQ voters to the NDP, led to the NDP’s historic Official Opposition finish. There’s been a clear change in the political direction in Quebec. For now.
In a word: stability. We know exactly when the next election is going to be, and until then this is Stephen Harper’s show, for better or worse.
The Green Party finally found a riding that Elizabeth May could be parachuted into and win, and good on them. I’m a fan of the environment. It provides air and water and food, and in my book, that’s pretty decent of it. I’m glad she won her seat, but it’s going to be interesting to see if she can be remotely effective as the only member of her party in a lame-duck opposition.
On election night I declared that seperatism was a dead issue in Canada in the wake of the BQ’s stunning defeat in La Belle Provence, dropping from 54 to 4 seats; their leader (who is a personal favourite of mine) Gilles Duceppe among the fallen. However, now that I’ve slept off the whiskey induced haze that got me through last night, I’m reconsidering that stance. The NDP is a national party, and as the Official Opposition, will have to represent federal issues despite the fact that the bulk of their support comes out of Quebec. Meanwhile, for the next four years the Bloc is going to have troops on the ground looking to rally support. If the NDP does not adequately represent the interests of Quebec, and they’ll be hard-pressed to do it as the opposition in a majority government. I believe that we’ll see another 180 degree turn and the resurrection of the BQ and all the issues that come with the party in 4 years time. In fact, as the majority Conservatives actually dropped support in Quebec, the BQ should have an easy time demonstrating that the federal government is apathetic towards Quebec interests.
The LPC is not dead yet.
Over the next few days I’ll attempt to assess what’s next for the five (Elizabeth May finally counts!) Federal parties.