THE DEVIL YOU KNOW:
It's now 11:22 pm here in that throbbing centre of the universe known as Winnipeg, and the Canadian election has been decided. a tiny few seats may change hands as late polls come in or in later recounts, but the essential features of the new Parliament is pretty much obvious.
At the dissolution of the last parliament the standings were as follows: CONS: 124, LIB 103, BLOC 51, NDP 29, IND 1. The standings at this time are CONS 143, LIB 77, BLOC 49, NDP 37, IND 2.
The Conservatives increased their seat total but still fell short of the 155 seats they would need to form a majority government. This is Sneaky Stevie's second kick at the can, and in other parties the knives might be sharpened, but unseating Harper would be a task of the magnitude of unseating Stalin. Both are supreme masters of the art of the apparat. No doubt Harper himself was more or less to blame for the inability to reach a majority with his remarks on "youth crime" and "culture" that basically demolished Conservative chances in Québec. What was remarkable was the fact that the Conservatives held on to their 10 Québec seats, as indications were that they were likely to crash and burn entirely. Without the remarks it would have been likely that the Tories would have achieved their majority via new seats in La Belle Province. One wonders if Harper ever actually studied the career of Stalin, as his "centrist" (in the world of the Conservative Party) politics are almost a carbon copy of those of Uncle Joe. This even goes as far as his retinue of former Right and Left Opposition figures, now cringing before the Dear Leader and begging what political survival they can inside the party.
Harper's mastery of party conspiracy was actually what did him in. He calculated rightly that it was time to throw a bone to the lock-em-up and damn thet culture feller wing of his party, but he paid too much attention to them and failed to take account of the feelings of the general population in Québec. This arrogance will eventually be Harper's undoing, but not this time around. While the man is a true master of party conspiracy he has at least the same contempt for the ordinary citizen as displayed by a university leftist. One can even imagine that he has great contempt for his own supporters. So Stevie slide in by the skin of his teeth, but the fact that he couldn't win a majority even when facing a formless Liberal Party, riven by deep hatreds, touting an incomprehensible "platform" that was totally overtaken by international economic events and led by a man with all the charisma of vanilla pudding will eventually tell on him.
The Liberals are, of course, the great losers in this election, and it's quite appropriate that the vote was counted on a Full Moon night. The party wolves are howling for Dion's blood as we speak. Look for the other Stephan to be gone in less than a year. If anybody crashed and burned tonight it was "Canada's Natural Governing Party". They managed to avoid disaster in Québec, probably due to a last minute drop in BQ support, but they flamed out in Ontario, their other remaining base.
The NDP gained seats but with a minimal gain in the popular vote. Layton failed to achieve his actual goal, of becoming the official opposition, and it's unlikely the same opportunity will arise again in the near future. The NDP's future will depend upon how "painlessly" the Liberals can remove Dion and rebuild. Their success in this is anybody's guess, as there is no other Canadian party as deeply divided as the Liberals. As to the old ex-Maoist Duceppe his time has probably come as well. The BLOC had a great lead in the last two weeks of the campaign, and it essentially evaporated on election night. Duceppe has already expressed his desire to leave federal politics, and it's unlikely that he will stay on for long. The Greens also lost heavily by not winning anything, even though they got some respectable vote tallies in some constituencies. It's hard to say how long they can go on cruising on taxpayer funds for the votes they receive while never actually becoming a real party. Don't expect, however, any great recriminations against their leader, Elizabeth May. The present "state of the Greens" is the result of a long fought out struggle between their left and right wings, and the right wing won handily. The left wing of the Greens basically consists of those whose politics could be summed up as "fad following", and it is hardly to be expected that they could mount a serious challenge to the present ruling clique.
So that's where we are in Canada today. A minority government is actually the best of all possible outcomes. The need to cooperate and compromise will prevent Sneaky Stevie from trying to implement his wilder ideas. In perilous economic times no country needs to be governed ideologically, especially if the ideology is the same one that sunk the US economy. So keep on smiling. The world goes on, and so does the Ottawa circus.