The main story is that the Conservative Party is back in Quebec and in a big way. Both the Bloc and the Liberals suffered losses while the Tories beat some of the more optimistic predictions and took 10 seats. This is a great base for the Conservative Party to build upon. Stephen Harper and Jean Charest should get to work as soon as possible to build the case for this classical federalist model that they’re calling “open federalism”. Stephen Harper should take Quebeckers sanctioning of the Liberal Party and make the case for unity through respect.
The other big story? The West is in. The axis of power and influence in this country hasn’t changed over night, but it is bound to become different as Conservatives cut off Liberal ties to patronage and do their best to stack the Privy Council Office with their own people. Most importantly, now that the West “is in”, we have a chance to see a truly pan-Canadian government and power structure as every region of the country has a significant stake in Harper’s new government. Regional exclusion will not (and cannot) exist within a Harper government. Especially with the concept of open federalism, even Saskatchewan NDP premier Lorne Calvert endorsed Harper’s plan for provincial balance.
Speaking of the CBC, when they were cycling through the ridings last night, why even when no polls were reporting was the Liberal candidate ranked #1 (even against an incumbent from another party)? So much for the so-called honeymoon period.
And now, while watching Newsworld am I getting the feeling like I’m watching a somber retrospective of election night (what does a Calgary power centre mean? Then a sad look at the rise and fall of Paul Martin). CTV’s about to have a lot more access.
How will Stephen Harper’s minority conservative government survive? I believe that they’ll hold on longer than Paul Martin’s Liberal government. First of all, Canadians realize that this Parliament is now a group effort among all parties. Governance will be done on an issue-by-issue basis. The Conservatives will come out strong with a very successful drive on pushing through the Accountability Act. All parties will likely support the policy and members that do not will be viewed with suspicion especially after constructive discussion/amendments in committee.
The theme that dogged Paul Martin’s minority Parliament was the Gomery inquiry and corruption. Stephen Harper has the advantage of riding the opposite track of that theme. Canadians saw government accountability as the #1 election issue and there is little doubt that Stephen Harper will deliver forcefully on it.
Law and order will also be an early key accomplishment of Stephen Harper’s government. Even Jack Layton’s NDP hugged the centre proposing harsher sentences for violent/gun crimes. We’ll likely see amendments that address “causes” of crime which will see measures such as increased community policing (the capital of which could be drawn from the gun registry).
It’s a new day in what should hopefully be a new era in Canadian politics. The Liberals have been trending towards defeat since they barely held on in 2004. Now as they face bankruptcy and what should be a brutal leadership race, the Tories have a real opportunity to build upon their success especially as Stephen Harper presents his case for a strong mandate by restoring Canadians faith in good government.