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How the NDP got Harper his majority

Thoughts on the federal election results tonight:

The New Democratic Party is celebrating but it is Jack Layton’s efforts which have given the Conservatives their majority. He’s not likely to be able to move the country forward toward the goals he set out in his campaign against the new Tory majority. That will disillusion and disappoint NDP supporters. A pyrrhic victory!

In his speech at his victory party in Toronto’s Convention Centre, he said he would get the country moving on the issues he raised in the campaign. He spoke as if he had won the election – lifting seniors out of poverty, making Canada a voice for peace in the world, dealing with climate change. Not likely. Preston Manning, Reform founder and spiritual father of the new Conservatives predicted tonight that Stephen Harper “will not be timid” with his majority. He was being questioned on CTV as to whether Harper would now, with a majority, feel he has to bow to the demands of social conservatives.

We can expect to hear and read a lot about the new crew of NDP members elected in Quebec. A few jokes too, no doubt, especially in regard to the lady Dipper who vacationed in Las Vegas during the campaign — but got elected!

Don’t forget that another party was a brief force in Quebec not long ago – the Action Democratique. It almost formed the government in the provincial election before last. But its multitude of new and inexperienced members proved to be such disasters that the ADQ has now disappeared from the Quebec political scene.

I don ‘t wish the same fate to the NDP, and it’s unlikely to write a similar sorry chapter. But with two-thirds of the caucus from Quebec, Layton and his Quebec lieutenant, Thomas Mulclair, have their work cut out for them.

The reverse side of the NDP’s winning coin — the demise of the Bloc Quebecois. How reminiscent of the 1993 federal election, when the Progressive Conservatives were reduced to two seats. We welcome the demise of the Bloc, but it is sad that once again, Quebec is shut out from the federal government. The new Tories elected in Quebec are unlikely to be able to connect Ottawa with the province. What a dramatic reversal in  Quebec City — all Tory candidates defeated, due no doubt in part to Harper’s refusal to help fund a new hockey arena. Right decision, but bad politics, Stephen.

A fine concession speech by Michael Ignatieff – showed himself the true gentleman he is. It is unfortunate he wasn’t able to connect with the voters. Ignatieff is the second professor in a row to lead the Liberal party, a party which has lurched from disaster to disaster since Paul Martin forced Jean Chretien into premature retirement.

I was pleased to see Elizabeth May finally make it into Parliament. After her futile run against Peter McKay in 2008, it’s clear she made a sound strategic decision to move to the one riding in the country — Saanich and the Islands — that is genuinely receptive to Green ideas. They won’t be able to keep her out of the next leader’s debate!

So what can we stay about Stephen Harper? He ran a mean and vicious  campaign, and in many ways has debased and devalued the quality of Canadian public life. One can only hope his majority will mellow him.

Finally, the polls once again measured up as fairly accurate forecasts of the vote. Notwithstanding the fact that the 40% vote the Conservatives garnered was higher than any of the polls had forecast. It’s “Blue” Ontario and Tory Toronto once again!

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