Conservatives triumph in Canada, winning majority in parliament after five years of minority
Six weeks ago the the opposition Liberal Party voted to bring down Stephen Harper's second minority Conservative government. Few understood why. The Conservatives were ten points ahead in some opinion polls. Liberal party supporters will have lots of time to reflect on all of this over the next few years. Their party under the intellectual Michael Ignatieff didn't just fail to win power, it lost its position as Canada's opposition. It lost half its seats. Ignatieff even lost his own riding. The Liberal Party - the party of Trudeau and traditionally seen as the nation's natural party of government - will now go through a leadership election and may come under pressure to merge with the party that replaced it as the leading alternative to Stephen Harper's Conservatives; the left-wing NDP.
The Conservative Party of Canada won a projected 12 seat majority in the Ottawa parliament on the back of 40% of the votes. It will be interesting to see if pro-AV campaigners try to use this in Britain in the next 48 hours.
Harper has run a centrist Conservative administration with a mix of spending increases and modest tax cuts throughout his five years as Prime Minister. He has been the West's staunchest ally of Israel and a critic of the global consensus on climate change. He hasn't been a compassionate conservative in the Cameron tradition but he has explicity rejected libertarianism, saying he believes that government has important roles. For the first time he has a majority of his own and can plan to rule for five years, not for a few months. He promises no radical change of departure but most expect tougher positions on crime and an end to big state funding of the political parties.
Mr Harper won the extra votes this time by ruthless attack ads on Ignatieff (see below) and by raising fears about a rainbow alliance of the Liberals, NDP and Quebec separatists governing Canada if he didn't get a majority this time.
The new leading opposition party is Jack Layton's NDP, a party that promised $75bn of extra spending. The surge of this left-wing party was powered by Mr Layton's charismatic leadership and by the wipeout of the Bloc Quebecois. Sat hehind Layton on the opposition benches will be a very young and untested set of MPs. The NDP won many more seats than they expected and the ruthless Conservative machine will look to expose all signs of eccentric and dangerous views among the NDP's rookie parliamentary membership.
The Bloc's leader Gilles Duceppe followed Ignatieff and lost his own seat. It was a deserved defeat and I can only quote this lovely line from John Ivison that sums up the once powerful separatist party; "No-one should be lamenting the demise of a party that had as many different words for grievance as the Inuit do for snow."
The fact that two of Canada's three left-wing parties suffered such big defeats and lost their leaders might finally force the parties to come together - ending a balkanisation of the Canadian Left that has so benefited the Conservatives.
And on a personal note I'd like to congratulate my friend John Williamson. Formerly of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation he entered parliament by retaining the Conservative riding of New Brunswick South West. Good luck John.
And, as promised, here are the videos. If you like political attack videos you'll love these...
For further reading there's this report in the Calgary Herald.
11.45am from Dan Hannan: Stephen Harper rises to lead the Anglosphere