Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Conservatives Re-Elected in Canada

After watching the Red Sox get decimated by the Rays again, I watched C-SPAN simulcast the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's coverage of the Canadian federal election.

Stephen Harper and the Conservatives have been re-elected albeit with another minority government. Harper wanted to obtain a majority in the House of Commons although the Conservatives did gain nearly 20 seats. As of this writing here are the results:

Conservatives 143
Liberals 78
Bloc Quebecois 48
NDP 37
Independents 2

When the election was called I wrote here that the odds favored the Tories but that Harper was taking a risk if he didn't win a majority government. Well, along came the global economic crisis. It might have cost him his majority but as mentioned earlier he gained nearly 20 seats gaining in Ontario and in Western Canada despite not gaining ground in Quebec and Newfoundland.

The biggest loser tonight was Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion. The Liberals have lost 23 seats. Yes, the economy doesn't help incumbents but Dion insisted on talking about the environment and implementing a carbon tax. Yes, that really appeals to forestry workers afraid of losing their jobs.

Dion is now destined to become the first Liberal Party leader not to become Prime Minister since Edward Blake in the late 1800s. The Liberals are supposed to have a leadership review convention next May but I believe Dion will bow out before then. His potential successors? Former Ontario Premier Bob Rae, former Harvard Prof Michael Ignatieff, former Ontario Cabinet Minister Gerard Kennedy and perhaps Hall of Fame NHL goalie and one time Liberal Cabinet Minister Ken Dryden. I think Rae and Ignatieff appeal to the same constituency so someone like Dryden could sneak up the middle in the way that Dion did when he won the party leadership in December 2006. One thing for sure the next Liberal leader will not be from Quebec.

When the Liberals do poorly in elections there is some benefit to the NDP. The NDP gained 7 seats winning its second highest total ever. The NDP's best showing was in 1988 when they won 43 seats. It appears the NDP might win its first ever seat from Quebec in a general election (they have won seats in by-elections only to lose them in general elections).

The Green Party showed gains in the popular vote but won no seats. Its leader Elizabeth May was soundly defeated in a Nova Scotia constituency held by Tory Cabinet Minister Peter MacKay. Perhaps May shouldn't be running in a safe Tory seat if she wants to get a foothold in Parliament.

Although all things considered many Canadians are more interested in our elections. Voter turnout is pegged at 57% - the lowest in Canadian history. Although compared to turnout here it's astounding. However, this is the third time Canadians have gone to the polls since 2004. There is a new law in Canada that calls for fixed elections. So the next election is scheduled for October 15, 2012. But with yet another minority parliament it would not be unexpected to go to the polls in either 2010 or 2011.

All things considered it was a good night for the Conservatives in Canada. No majority government but it is a result that is acceptable and workable. Hey, if Obama wins perhaps we'll see an influx of conservatives moving north of the 49th. But if you're going to move from Arizona to Alberta be sure to bring a winter jacket and long underwear.

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