We can have another election in six months!
I have received a few emails from people wondering why I haven’t mentioned much about Monday’s Canadian election. I had to take 36 hours to recover from the news that Stephen Harper will be the next prime minister (well, admittedly, I was having a busy day and just couldn’t get to it).
A few basic facts about the election for the confused masses: the Conservative Party won the largest number of seats in the House of Commons (124 vs. 103 for the Liberals), but they did not win a majority of the seats. Because they will be a minority government, any legislation they would like to pass would require an alliance with another party. But there are no natural alliances among the opposition parties: the Liberals, the New Democrats, and the Bloc Quebecois.
My prediction is that the Conservative-led government elected on Monday will collapse in six months, the earliest date that another election can be called.
Earlier this week, Paul Martin said of Stephen Harper and his Conservatives: “Never have we seen a major political party with such a conservative agenda as this one, an agenda really drawn from the extreme right in the United States.” A letter-writer in the Toronto Star seemed to agree:”I now can fully empathize with Americans who did not vote for Bush. I am truly mortified that Stephen Harper will be our prime minister.”
Certainly one of the most interesting angles on this election is the ascent of Western Canada politically. There have been few prime ministers from outside Quebec or Ontario (Paul Martin represents Montreal, and Stephen Harper represents Calgary, although both men were raised in Ontario), and the West has long felt alienated from more populous Quebec and Ontario. It’s not hard to see that the isolation of the West, both geographically and psychologically, has been politically punishing.
In what is sure to become a famous declaration, Stephen Harper said Monday night, “The West has wanted in, the West is in now.”