By Ryan McGreal
Published October 15, 2008
By winning another minority government, Stephen Harper's Conservative Party of Canada have bought themselves another two years or so of power against a divided electorate and, quite possibly, a leaderless opposition.
Harper may have missed the best opportunity to win a majority earlier in the summer, but this snap election was still in his party's interest, if only to pull the plug on Parliamentary investigations into Conservative scandals, get in before the coming recession, and beat next year's constituency redistribution that will put more seats in urban strongholds.
Many pundits are saying that Harper's failure to capture a majority represents a clear failure on his part and a rejection of his policies by most Canadians.
There's plenty of truth to that sentiment, particularly given the weakness and inarticulation of his main opponent, but Harper still managed to achieve his main objective, which was to get the jump on bad news and win a mandate to stay in power a little longer, during which time he can continue to tweak the Canadian government in a more conservative direction: harsher laws, lower corporate taxes, more social wedge issues.
At the same time, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion will come under considerable pressure to step down after a disappointing campaign. He specifically failed to communicated his Party's Green Shift carbon tax plan and broadly failed to connect with voters on a personal level.
At the same time, he demonstrated some rapid on-the-job training and made a considerable improvement over the course of the campaign, especially once he began allowing other high profile Liberals into his campaign strategy.
If the Liberals do decide to keep him, it won't be the first time a duffer had a chance to mature into a polished, confident, competent leader.
However, if the pressure to replace him becomes irresistable, that will take the Liberals out of the Parliamentary picture for at least a year, during which Harper can continue to govern as if he has a majority.
Above all else, resignation seems to have ruled the day, as the new government emerged substantially the same as the old one. Turnout fell from 65 percent in 2006 to just 59 percent, possibly because many Canadians felt this election to be a pointless waste of time.
Demonstrating the distortionary effects of Canada's first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system, the Conservatives managed to increase their seat count by 19, or 12.6 percent, over their 2006 results while increasing their share of the popular vote by only 1.4 percent, to 37.6 percent.
The Liberals, by contrast, dropped 27 seats or 20 percent with only a four percent drop in the popular vote.
The NDP jumped from 29 to 37 seats, or 23.3 percent, with less than one percent increase in the popular vote.
The Green Party increased their popular vote by two and a half percent to just under seven percent, but won no seats.
The Bloc Quebecois increased from 50 seats to 51, with their share of the popular vote dropping by half a point.
|Ancaster Dundas Flamborough Westdale||Marxist-Leninist||Jamilé Ghaddar||158||0.28%|
|Hamilton Centre||NDP||David Christoperson||19,945||49.27%|
|Hamilton East-Stoney Creek||Independent||Sam Cino||323||0.67%|
|Liberal||Larry Di Ianni||13,445||27.93%|
|Green||David William Hart Dyke||2,142||4.45%|
|PC Party||Gord Hill||853||1.77%|
|Hamilton Mountain||Conservative||Terry Anderson||16,011||30.66%|